What is a funny joke and what is an offensive joke, is highly subjective. A joke might be questioning everything we have been fighting for, might be normalizing the most painful atrocities but some people still might find it funny. Comedians are generally found to be the center of this very narrative. From Vir Das dropping truth bombs in the forms of jokes in one of his stand up comedies, “Vir Das For India” to Trevor Noah cracking some very racist jokes, through genuine humor or offense, comedians have always struck conversations around crucial topics.
There have been jokes cracked by comedians which have led to sensitization towards issues that often come with prejudices. Like the one cracked by Vir Das himself about homosexuality, “Section 377 was defeated. We decriminalized homosexuality in this country. That’s an amazing thing. Because Indian uncles were holding on to that one for some time, “If we legalize it, they will come for us next.” They’re gays, not zombies. They don’t have to spread. If a gay dude bites you, you don’t become fabulous overnight.” While others like Trevor Noah and Lilly Singh went a little overboard and turned an entire joke into a racist remark. In the very first episode of her late-night talk show, “A Little Late With Lilly Singh” featured actor Jessica Alba. The actor was discussing an event, “They wear the towels, the turbie twists, so they like look super not cool in the turbie twists but it dries their hair really quickly, so it’s very practical.” To this Lilly Singh replied, “They look like my Punjabi friends. It’s fine.” After receiving a lot of backlash on social media for passing racist remarks in the name of jokes, both Trevor Noah and Lilly Singh apologized for their comments. Cracking a joke offensive to a certain community, realizing how problematic and hurtful it could be and then apologizing for it, is still better than not accepting your mistake at all and sprouting your entire career based on offensive remarks.
While we’re talking about offensive humor, let us also not forget comedian Kapil Sharma’s extensive contribution to it. His shows, “Comedy Nights with Kapil” and “The Kapil Sharma Show” lost its humor even before it started gaining popularity. In the language of his shows, to joke is to verbally bash colleagues and audiences on the basis of their body features. Whenever Sumona Chakravarti comes to the screen, her nose, her lips, and her height are made fun of. In one of the episodes featuring Tapsee Pannu and Manoj Bajpai, Sumona tells Kapil that she is here to promote the actors’ latest film to which Kapil replies that she should compare her height with Tapsee’s and promote short films. Another time he made a similar remark on her lips saying, “Lips toh tumhaare haan, bade ache hain, jitna bada gala diya hai bhagwaan ne, utne bade hain. Lip sync karegi lips aapas mein sync kar nahi rahe.” These remarks are not only not funny but are offensive, they are only based on somebody’s physical features. Remarks on Kiku Sharda’s weight have also been made on the show. “Na duniya ka koi kona hai, na tere shareer ka koi kona hai”, is what the show sells in the name of comedy. Similar offensive remarks are also made on Archana Puran Singh’s body and even the audience is not spared in the show!
Another line of offensive humor comes from Carry Minati aka Ajey Nagar’s latest video called “YOUTUBE vs TIK TOK: THE END”. The video apparently got 19 million likes in just one day. The video focuses specifically on roasting Amir Siddiqui, a Tiktok star. It genuinely could have been a piece of good humor if Carry Minati did not decide to be transphobic and sexist. In the entire video, he refers to Siddiqui as “beti”. He then says, “tujh jaise ko toh mai mithaai ki dukaan par 200 rupey mein bech doon”. Thus, calling him ‘meetha’ which is generally referred to the transgender community by those people who do not see a man as conventionally manly. Another time when Siddiqui posted a picture of himself on his Instagram handle and added a “hashtag skirt” in his caption, Carry makes fun of it. He then says, “tujhse zyada mard toh mujhe Deepak Kalal lagta hai”. These comments are beyond offensive, how can you even call somebody meetha and then claim to roast them? And what are you proving by calling him beti again and again? More than the sickening remarks the video contains, it is upsetting the way in which the audience is reacting to the video blindly, giving it 19 million likes in a day and hailing the Youtuber/Comedian.
Again, what is offensive and what is funny is subjective. But stooping down to such a level where all you can joke about is somebody’s body, sexuality or gender in the name of comedy, stands unjustified. There exists genuine comedy too, where one does not casually joke about other’s insecurities, the things which they cannot control.
Image Source – Newslaundry