In a country like India, where taking offence is a national pastime, how political can the comic scene be? Is it okay to make jokes on politicians and their politics, or is everyone too scared of Jaya Bachchan?
We sent email questionnaires to India’s leading comics and satirist to get answers to these questions. We also asked them to rate themselves on our liberal-conservative scale.
Next on our series is Neeti Palta. After writing for advertisements and Gali Gali Sim Sim, the Indian version of the American television series, Sesame Street, Neeti moved on to comedy. She has performed shows across the country and was India’s first stand-up artiste to perform at the Melbourne Comedy Festival in 2013.
Currently, stand-up comedy is broadly divided as:
To me, comedy is all about holding a mirror (albeit, a slightly warped mirror) to society. There is a kernel of truth in practically every joke. Thankfully, we (mostly) function as a democracy so the comedy scene is rife with political humour. It is vital to have a contrary point of view out there that might provoke, hopefully, only thought! However, the other heads I pointed out are equally popular for comedy fodder.
To a large extent, comedy is about holding a mirror to society. Be this about gender discrimination, the political/politicians’ shenanigans, rampant sexism, any other social issue or simply human behaviour. Most jokes have a message of sorts. However, I like to keep in mind that someone has come to watch comedy to lighten up a bit and try not to preach. If a comedian has made them laugh at themselves or even at others through simple observational comedy and they go out on the road in a better mood and honk at fewer people, a comedian has done his/her job.
I have yet to come across one!
For some reason, an adjective often used when talking about a female comedian is “bold”. So I’d place myself at 2.5.