Ever since the much talked-about AIB roast went viral, opinions about it have been divided. While some were offended (to the extent that an FIR was lodged against the people involved in the event), others felt it’s freedom of expression, and nothing to be oversensitive about.
In the wake of this controversy, we speak to popular TV comedians to know their stance on humour and where to draw the line.
Krushna Abhishek, who has been part of several shows that require him to present comedy acts, echoes a similar tone. He is all for freedom of speech, but is not in favour of insult comedy. "If one does it today, then what’s stopping someone else to do a repeat? Where will it stop? It simply eggs people on to use bad language," says Krushna.
Popular comedian Ali Asgar, feels that innovating is the need of the hour, but also maintains that pushing the envelope doesn’t just mean using sexual jokes, double meaning and insults to get people to laugh. "Clean comedy is tough, but that will help you stand apart. In our culture, we have limitations of what is acceptable in public and one has to keep that in mind."
Just a few years ago, Indian television moved from just producing fiction shows to adopting the concept of stand-up comedy, which resulted in high TRPs. Since these are positioned as ‘family shows’ by the producers, Ali, who is part of one such programme, admits that drawing the line is important when you are doing comedy on TV. "Even I have, at times, touched upon some below-the-belt jokes, but I have never gone overboard," says the comedian, adding that objections are needed to keep people in check. "Otherwise, there will be no limit to what you can and can’t talk about. No one will be spared then. One should express themselves and set their own limits," he feels.
Sunil Grover, however, feels that freedom to express shouldn’t be curbed.
Sunil has played many characters as a stand-up comic, including his most famous act, Gutthi, where he dresses as a woman. "Criticism is okay, but not objections or threats to put people in jail just because they expressed themselves. The people at the show were laughing at themselves and it wasn’t telecast on TV; it was uploaded on the Internet, which has all sorts of other things as well. People watched it by choice. It’s simple; if you don’t like it, don’t watch it," says Sunil. He says that he doesn’t relate to insult comedy and will never explore it, as he sticks to humour that a family audience can watch.
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