Comedy as dissent is going to be our last safety valve...Varun Grover writes
The stand-up comic, screenwriter and lyricist thinks comedy is a strong medium to bring about social changeUpdated: Sep 14, 2019 22:11 IST
I am primarily a comedian. Sometimes I also do comedy about my cats. Now unless you find metaphors in cats, there is nothing political about those and I love doing such jokes as much as I love doing political content. I don’t think stand-up comedy is becoming too serious, in fact, I wish it was. We are still mostly doing frivolous stuff.
I read somewhere that great comedy is equal parts darkness and light. The best jokes take something awful and make it silly. The kings would have court jesters whose primary job was to ask questions to the king but in a way that if the king wished, the questions could be dismissed as a joke. So a person couldn’t write op-eds, but could ask questions as a stand-up comic. Since what they said could be easily rejected, jesters were allowed to say things that otherwise might be regarded as dissent.
Today, you have to engage people in a different way, and one such effective way is through storytelling, through comedy and satire, because it works as an icebreaker, as a channel opener
Right-wing politics is just starting off in this country. These are just early days. Comedy as dissent or any art form as dissent is going to be our last safety valve.
Today, the dialogue between the two sides has broken. I strongly believe that no matter how far you are on whichever side of the political spectrum, there needs to be a dialogue if you ever expect any form of resolution or reform. One major failure of the liberals is their elitism, which basically says that it is beneath us to engage in any kind of dialogue with the other side. The traditional media was so easily polarised and appropriated because of this elitism that had created a divide between the English press and the vernacular papers. Dialogue is needed. Today, you have to engage people in a different way, and one such effective way is through storytelling, through comedy and satire, because it works as an icebreaker, as a channel opener.
Moreover, as stand-ups we have the reach. Our content is on YouTube. Even if we are dissenters, and you don’t agree with what we are saying, you will eventually check out our content, you will engage, whether it’s because of peer pressure or because of pressure to troll us. Everyone keeps a few hours aside just for outrage these days. But when you engage, you unknowingly give a key to one of the rooms of your brain to us and we surreptitiously plant a seed of thought there.
Author bio: A comedian, lyricist and a screenwriter, Varun Grover’s also adapted Sacred Games and bagged many awards for his lyrics. He is part of the comedy act, Aisi Taisi Democracy, a major voice of dissent in the country today.
Counterpoint: As long as a comedian is funny, who cares about what the topic might be?...Sorabh Pant writes
From HT Brunch, Sept 15, 2019
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First Published: Sep 14, 2019 21:47 IST