So last week I had the chance to attend East India Comedy’s Backbenchers, a stand up show about college life and it was one of the most amazing times I’ve had in a long time. But as much as I loved that show, it has left me with a nagging thought, ergo this post. You see, a lot of their jokes consisted of that obvious one liner and caricatured mimicry. I would go ahead and say their jokes were offensive. But you won’t believe this, I laughed. I laughed so much my throat was burning and my cheeks were hurting.
If you don’t know this about me, I am not a big fan of offensive humor. I don’t have a very picky sense of humor but gags at someone else’s expense (mine or otherwise) are not very funny. But this night, I threw caution to the winds and didn’t worry about someone feeling bad. I figured, everyone else around me are laughing aren’t they? So why not me. It was selfish. I ought to have thought and understood the joke for what it was, I shouldn’t have laughed, I should have clenched my jaw and refused. But everyone around me was laughing and it isn’t a justification but a reason for my actions. Self righteousness has no space in the middle of laughter.
I also felt hypocritical because I know people who forward me equally annoying jokes on 'whatsapp' and I always call them out for their ignorance and carelessness. My brother once made the mistake of sending a sexist message that lead to one huge argument, four strongly opinionated people and all hell breaking loose upon him. He wore ‘you need to lighten up’ as his armor. I scoffed.
But perhaps he was right. When EIC gave into stereotypes about Gujarati folks (Me) and B.A students (Me, again) I wanted to walk up on the stage and explain its not true. And in that moment I realized how silly I was being. And so I forced myself to be a good sport and laughed. And it was a glorious feeling. One of my friends once told me that laughing at ourselves is an important life lesson that will save me a lot of grief later. I can’t say I disagree. And think about it, it says so much about you as a person when you can laugh things off.
But Digvi, not all things are funny. Some things deserve seriousness. True. It is all about finding a balance and differentiating effectively. Rape jokes- No, Misogynistic remark- break their patriarchy kissing mouth, a mildly sexist joke that maybe valid for someone – shrug it off. Am I saying belittling someone for a joke is acceptable? Never. But maybe laughing is, cause the world is a serious place as it is and when you have the chance to laugh, why not take it by the wings and fly.