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2014: A Year in Comedy

India learns to laugh at itself. Conditions apply

The funniest videos and the smartest political commentary from the year that was.

Laughing Indians

2014 may just go down as the year that the Indian comedy scene came of age. Young urban professionals are visiting stand-up venues in droves every Friday night, while even younger ones are wasting way too much time watching locally produced content on YouTube. When Shahrukh Khan and Kajol choose to appear on a common platform to celebrate 1000 weeks of DDLJ, they do so at Comedy Nights with Kapil; and whenever something ‘newsworthy’ happens, everyone rushes to Twitter to get their favourite comedian’s take on the situation.

However, life is not all ha ha hee hee  in India’s Laughter Factories. For one, people continue to think that Navjot Singh Siddhu is funny. For another, a lot of our comedy remains curiously defanged- while Indians find it easy to laugh at the foibles of their Bollywood stars, politics and religion remains largely taboo. Comedy Central can still get banned for 6 days for a tasteless joke, and you can still get hounded by Narender Modi and Tendulkar fans for daring to crack a joke at the expense of their ‘Gods’. And even as our home grown talent continues to provide belly laughs, there is also a little too much reliance on international comedy acts and stylings for inspiration.

We would be overreaching if we say Indian Comedy has finally matured, but there’s no denying that it is here to stay!

Here are some of MBRB’s favourite moments in comedy from 2014.

Best ‘Viral’ Video

Suddenly , everyone wants to go ‘viral’- forgetting that the word once connoted a case of sniffles with no known cure! Film stars and industrialists hobnob with the guys behind All India Bakchod and The Viral Fever in an effort to seem cool and ‘with it’ (Seriously, Karan Johar – the most humourless man in India – is officiating their first ‘roast’). The danger of course is that comedy may get reduced to little more than a PR vehicle. And perhaps that is why we remained oddly unmoved by Alia Bhat’s  Genius of the Year, or at the weak Between Two Ferns parody which pit Arnub against SRK. None of these videos have quite the bite that VJ Juhi and Kalki’s “Rape: Its Your Fault” did last year.

That is why we will have to give 2014 to the East India Comedy team. They may not have the views, but they have the imagination and the DIY spirit that comes from thinking up their videos on the fly without tailoring them for popularity. Watch their Ultimate Shaadi Playlist (especially the clever send-off to dressing up for weddings) and the excellent production values of Monsoon is Coming to see why 2014 belongs to them.

 

 

Best ‘Tumblr’

This one is a no-contest. No one is doing political humour, environmental humour, artistic youth-y angst humour,  with the wit and quiet sadness of crocodileinwatertigeronland.tumblr.com

image via http://crocodileinwatertigeronland.tumblr.com/post/25825325554

 

Best Twitter Parody Account

While Norinder Mudi can be relied upon for relentless dhokla puns, and Trendulkar remains good for an occasional laugh, nothing beats the south-Bombay-hallowed-obliviousness-and-entitlement of RushdieExplainsIndia.

He knows his literary quotes, is not above throwing shade at Martin Amis, has trenchant political opinions and – most of all- just can’t conceal his dislike of Chetan Bhagat.

 

Indian men object to women in jeans and make up. Indian women fed up of genes that make up Indian men

— RushdieExplainsIndia (@RushdieExplains) October 5, 2014

 

Watching Barkha, Rajdeep, and Arnab cover Modi in the US, it suddenly dawns on Indian voters that they should have elected new TV anchors

— RushdieExplainsIndia (@RushdieExplains) September 28, 2014

 

Off to Big Bazaar to buy sabzi and the latest Chetan Bhagat! Special offer: one hot air balloon free with the book.

— RushdieExplainsIndia (@RushdieExplains) June 15, 2014

Best Filmy Commentary

A lot of people insist that this is the easiest form of comedy, making fun of Bollywood and its tropes. But it isn’t easy to do this well, and that is why young Sahil Rizwan’s Vigil Idiot continues to make the Bolly-skeptics laugh. The new kids on the block are Kanan Gill and Kalyan Rath, the guys behind Pretentious Movie Reviews. Their off-kilter sense of humour and very Bangalore vibe is best displayed in this hilarious take-down of Main Prem ki Deewani Hoon.  We hope the two have a lot more ideas to offer, because we may just be a little bit hooked!

Best Meme

Is it meme or ‘meem’? And why is Alok Nath funny?  Kids today like the darnedest things! But we can’t help being amused just a bit by the Dekh Behen/Bhai/Pagli  posters dotting our timelines these days. Something about the simple yellow background, that girl who looks straight from a 80s poster, and the wordly wisdom in this meme has struck our fancy.

Dekh Behen, PJ par tali to banti hain

Dekh Pagli

What made you laugh this year ? Tell us in the comments below, or share your recommendations on Facebook or Twitter. And keep returning to MBRB as we look at some of the year’s most memorable moments in the world of books, pop culture, travel and more.

Featured Photo Credit: Photosightfaces via Compfight cc

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