‘Ek kiss-an ragu thatha’; ‘Verum Das-a, illa Lord-u labakku Das-a?’; ‘Cool down, cool down, cool down’. Are you grinning? Film comedy is evergreen, isn’t it? These iconic lines from Tamil films are so seeped into our psyche that many of us can recite them even in our sleep. Which standup comedy joke can you remember off the top of your head? It is an entertainment form for the privileged — not everyone can afford the tickets. Besides, what’s the fun in making only one section of society laugh?
Film comedy does not have any class barriers. To enjoy it, a free Amma or Kalaignar TV set will do. You do not have to own a phone with 3G or 4G Internet. Just looking at our film comedians is enough to make us laugh: Think Vadivelu in his ‘Dubai dress’. Standup comedians, however, have to try hard to make the audience laugh.
The other day, I was laughing my head off in front of our TV at Soori downing his 20th parotta at an eating contest as someone shared a standup comedy clip on WhatsApp. It was quite funny, to be honest — it had several million views. But I watched it the second time and it was not so funny anymore. That Soori-eating-parotta scene, however, makes me laugh every time I watch it. Standup, like they say, is just a side-dish. The main course, is any day film comedy.
How many people you know go to a standup show every day? And how many people you know watch Adithya TV every day? We have a clear winner.
— Akila Kannadasan is a writer by day, popcorn-muncher by night
There are two things that absolutely everyone in Chennai agrees on: first, the idea of Hindi imposition is laughable, and second, that ‘Lungi Dance’ is a crime of the order of dosa pizza — a ghastly creation that should have never seen the light of the day. And it took a standup comedian — city-bred Aravind SA — to pack a sucker punch of an answer to the North Indian mockery.
Thanks to Chennai’s rising standup scene, comedy is no longer relegated to slapstick humour you find in movies. Witty dialogues, wise observations, whip-smart sass, self deprecation: the city’s standup comedians are pushing against the boundaries of what clearly is an art form.
Let us be real, we live in a post Jio world, where Internet access is sadly, more common than public toilets. I would be more surprised if you owned a TV in this day and age. Now, you come back after a hard day at work, you don’t have the patience to watch an entire movie, you want someone to laugh with — not at — over a nice meal. Our comedians have you covered.
But what is even better: standup is inclusive. Today, every sharp witted backbencher and class joker, can dream of going around the world on tours, making people laugh. No more schmoozing with producers, directors and actors, all to get the role of a funny sidekick. No more kowtowing to people’s egos and censor board rules; offend away. You, dear sir/madam, are the hero of your own story. Isn’t that the dream?
— Sweta Akundi will meet George Carlin in heaven and they will share a drink
In this column, we pit two Chennai icons against each other