They feel politics and religion are the two biggest topics for stand-up comedy globally, but stand-up comedians Jeeveshu Ahluwalia, Sundeep Rao and Daniel Fernandes feel it is a no-entry zone in India.
Ahluwalia, known as the ‘Salman Khan of the fat world’, after he self-proclaimed it in one of his stand-up acts, partially blind comic Rao and Fernandes say that as a precautionary measure they stay away from “politically motivated or religious or sentimental” gags.
“In India, comedy is not given, it is taken. We are still in a country where comedy is only seven to eight years old, whereas in the US, it is an art form. You still can’t do a politically motivated or religious or sentimental one pulled off here because people are highly biased,” Ahluwalia told IANS.
He added: “I don’t think that a large part of the audience is biased. I think it is a notion that few of them create, and then the reaction is such a volatile reaction that everybody on stage gets so scared that they don’t want to touch that arena altogether.
“That is why you don’t have many people doing it, or they do it in a fashion that they play around it. They don’t want to push that envelope very very far.”
The comedians have come together for Comedy Central’s initiative Chuckle Stop — an attempt to create a platform for home grown talent. The first edition of Chuckle Stop – UNINVITED is a three-stop comic show. It was held in Mumbai on Friday, will be held in Delhi on Saturday and in Bengaluru on Sunday.
Fernandes said: “The only censorship that exists should exist in comedy itself and every one should have the freedom to talk about everything that they want. Right now that is the case. I personally do not censor myself in any way. If I feel convinced to talk about something, I’ll talk about it.”
He feels there’s comedy everywhere.
“Look at the American presidential election and how someone with thirty years of experience is trying to prove herself worthy in front of a guy who had a reality TV show. There’s comedy everywhere, not just in politics but in life in general. And I think politics and religion are the two biggest fodder, two biggest sources of comedy these days,” he said.
Rao hopes things will get better.
“Comedy is a commentary of the society. It could be on the political, social, sub social level. But eventually it should get there, because if we call ourselves a democracy, we should really encourage people to sort of realize that discussion is the first step to understanding and solving an issue, and comedy highlights that,” Rao said.