Who doesn’t like to laugh? Everyone does. But not everyone can make other people laugh. Also, is comedy just about cracking jokes?
Guest Author Apoorva Vajpayee speaks about his tryst with stand up comedy and why he finds it to be significant today.
“Because I like making people laugh”
The clichéd answer we get every time a comedian is asked – Why do you do comedy? But people are already laughing at news channels, politicians and movies that are not comedy, they don’t need comedians to make them laugh. In my opinion – laughter is a by-product, making people understand their weird point of view is what comedians actually aim for.
Laughter makes comedians happy the way the salary credited SMS does. The real happiness is from salary, not from that SMS.
It’s been slightly more than a year since I started doing stand-up comedy. A couple of months before I went on stage for the first time, I got a chance to watch Zakir Khan performing live and even to talk to him for a while after the show. I asked him for advice on doing stand-up comedy, to which he replied – “Bhai koi suggestion nahin hai, bas stage pe ja” (I have no advice to give, just go on stage). Then, it sounded like a response from someone who is bored of being asked this question again and again. But looking back, it was the best advice one could give. It’s the kind of art form where each time you go on stage, you learn something new and there is always a lot to work on. As a performer, I am too new to give any expert advice, but I watch a lot of stand-up comedy while waiting for my turn to perform, hence I have few things to share about being a comedy viewer.
I was introduced to stand-up comedy by The Great Indian Laughter Challenge season 1 and developed more interest in it after Indian stand-up comedians came up with their YouTube videos. But live comedy was a different experience. There was no censorship here. Any topic, any language was fine as long as it could make people laugh. Unlike the internet, where people are just waiting to get offended about everything, people here were a lot more accommodating. They were okay to laugh about their religion, their favourite political figure or even themselves.
Jokes have a shelf life; it doesn’t take long for a joke to become a WhatsApp forward. So, comedians have to come up with something new every time. And with a lot of comedians doing the same, we get a lot of topics and several perspectives on those topics. Comedy shows may look like a one way communication, but they’re not. Audience communicate a lot by laughing or not laughing, some people argue and some go one step ahead and communicate by filing an FIR. Comedians adjust their jokes accordingly and that’s how, they also become part of the joke making process.
When someone buys a ticket to a comedy show, they expect nothing more than entertainment, but they get back a lot more. Comedy is one of the very few sources where you get unbiased opinions about all kinds of issues. Plenty of times after hearing a joke, I realized how wrong I was about certain things. Sometimes it surprises me how people supposedly from different cultures are so similar and sometimes I have to take help of Google to understand what a particular comedian is talking about. Comedians are not restricted to comedy anymore; many of them are influencers on social media. There are examples when a comedian or a group of comedians took on themselves to make people aware about a social issue.
So, go out and watch a show yourself if you want to hear something new, or take the stage if you have something to say. It has only started; let’s hope it becomes a significant voice in the future.
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