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April 20, 2017

The Rise Of The Indian Comedy Club

Text by Amishi Parekh. Illustration by Hemant Sapre

A hearty lot of comedians are steadily becoming newly minted celebrities who look at pressing daily issues with tongue firmly in cheek

About a decade ago, ‘comedy’ was a term loosely applied to rehearsed-and-repeated routines on stage and in films by the likes of Johnny Lever and Jaspal Bhatti. Mimicry, mostly, accompanied by a stale repertoire of Sardar (or insert whichever community one is using as a scapegoat for that day) jokes. But comedians have polished up their acts — sundry matters afflicting the nation provide ample fodder, as do the missteps of just about anyone in the public eye. Borrowing from shows abroad, we see fleshed-out characters, sketch, improv and a uniquely Indian comic voice starting to emerge. While increasingly popular, roasts have irked and offended many a thin-skinned VIP; their hosts on the other hand have seen a meteoric rise in fans, followers, thumbs ups (and downs), retweets and more, steadily becoming household names in their own right.

Something is awry in the celebometer when a video of a certain comic playing a honeybee on Snapchat is all people can talk about; or when a comedian’s views on feminism break the internet, earning the kind of whiplash that is typically part and parcel of the usual suspects trolled online, whose names generally end with Khan, Kohli or Bachchan. Or when the audience ratio at a stand-up routine is hijacked by girls drooling over the funny man on stage. Comedians have become the new celebrities, raring to voice our despair about society at large by looking at the lighter side of things.

Comedy club

Aditi Mittal: For crashing through the glass ceiling of humour.

Bharti Singh: Comedy Nights Bachao star, for speaking out against body shaming.

Tanmay Bhat: For constantly pushing the envelope with his views on feminism, net neutrality and more.

Radhika Vaz: Self-proclaimed ‘underwear arsonist’, for fighting sexism with wit.

Vir Das: For proving that comedy can also show you the money.

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