Saturday, September 19, 2015

The joke is mightier than the tabloid, but not nearly as good a coaster.

Stand-up comedians are my heroes! If I wasn't reasonably happy and satisfied being an average Telecom/IT engineer with optimistic prospects and average wage, I'd be a rich lucky lottery-winner, an overweight happy cookery show host, a tired hungry travel show photographer or -more relevantly here- a broke pitiful stand-up comedian. But I'd be living the dream, just like the thousand others scampering for nervous minutes in an already overflowing stand-up scene.

I am pretty confident that I would soon realize that it's too much trouble for too little, that I'm not as funny as I think I am (side note: I'm hilarious sometimes, usually awkward and mostly frustrated at not being able to make my point) and that the profession isn't nearly as gratifying or forgiving as blabbering a few amusing observations at the lunch table.

The one thing I do envy though is the freedom to say anything with impunity- sometimes the rules seem to be: 'the more offensive, the better' (I'm of course not referring to violations of freedom of speech by Big Brother). These guys proudly make objectionable, sexist (read misogynistic), racist or just plain mean comments to thunderous laughter and rapturous applause. I often feel guilty later, when I recall some of the things I giggled at- things that would raise eyebrows anywhere else and make cafes use their 'RIGHT OF ADMISSION RESERVED' card.

For someone who hasn't witnessed a stand-up, I'd suggest youtubing it (to those complaining that it's not a word, I say 'not yet'). That's basically where I personally became familiar with the art form.

In the beginning you're enthralled by these people and their wit, spontaneity, intelligence and otherwise keen sense of observation. You later see patterns, 'hey, didn't he make that same joke in the other video', 'hmm... she's just repeating herself again'. I'm not claiming that they don't deserve credit or that they don't work hard. It's just so much more impressive when you actually believe that they're making up so many jokes while on stage with judgmental and bored eyes staring up at them.

It appears to me that there are 3 categories of stand-up comedians. The cheap jokers, the clowns that observe and the pokers of the heart.

The cheap jokers are basically ticklers and caters to those who like beer and tons of it. They don't have a strong point to make. By repeating popular, mundane topics to those who're there just to get tickled, they make comedy a joke. Who hasn't heard a million jokes about men not getting women, politicians being silly and I don't care enough to think of more examples. A happy ending doesn't really need dexterity.

The observing clowns cater to wine lovers. Your time is filled with 'Aha' moments. The show stays with you for a day or two. You most likely try to repeat your favourite lines to friends, fail miserably, get embarrassed and try again.

The pokers of the heart and those you cannot ignore. They make you sip your bitter whiskey. Your vision gets fuzzy but you see more clearly. You hate them for holding your hand and pulling you out from the comfortable gutter of ignorance. They let go once their time is up, but not until they make the gutter a little less comfortable.

Now that your attention and my imagination have reached their ends, could there possible be a better way to end this post than a joke? Well, yes perhaps there is. But I'll take the easy way out.

Why did the billionaire have bad breath? Because he hadn't brushed his teeth.

About Me

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I am Arjun P. Kamath, and I am a nice guy to know.