A comic take on today's society

A comic take on today's society

Light Humour

Stand-up comedy can be refreshing in its irreverence, flippancy and sheer rudeness — which was why ‘Make Chai Not War’, a humourous act organised by the US Consulate, Chennai, in the City was such a resounding success.

Featuring three Indo-American comedians, the evening had all the staples of a rib-tickling, laughter-inducting riot – political humour, including a few jibes at George Bush, racial stereotypes and of course, plenty of tongue-in-cheek improvisation that kept the audience on their toes.

The first act of the night was performed by Rajiv Satyal, a Cincinnati-based comedian who also introduced himself as the ‘host for the evening’.  And like any good host, he went on to keep the audience entertained throughout his act. He started of with the tried-and-tested formula of racial stereotyping — welcoming the Punjabis in the audience with the mention of the open bar, acknowledging that there would be plenty of Gujaratis present since the passes were free and even making a brief mention of the somewhat lengthy South Indian surnames he’d come across.

He attempted to avoid the cliched ‘brown-people comedy’ with a few witty one-liners — “Indians aren’t black , we’re brown: the new grey”.  And that wasn’t all; whether it was referring to himself as ‘God’s gift to women — just not wrapped very well’, or informing the audience that men did indeed have a biologic clock, namely baldness, he managed to keep the laughs coming throughout his act.

Next up was Hari Kondabolu, an irreverently witty comedian who was enjoying his first trip to this country.  He began on a predictable note — describing the different ways in which Americans pronounced his name, and then listed the different
ethnicities that people in America assumed him to be – Iraqi, Afghani and even Pakistani.

Whether his jokes induced laughter or not, he kept the atmosphere light by chiding the audience, saying, “Some of you clapped, the rest of you are wrong!”.

He also touched on the issue of sexism in the USA, converting this otherwise serious topic into a minefield of potential jokes. The last act for the evening was performed by Azhar Usman, a comedian who was born and brought up in Chicago and has injected his sense of humour with plenty of typically-American references.

Describing the endless ways in which white Americans pronounced his name — and how nervous they got when they were trying to — he kept the audience laughing continuously.  But what is a good comedy act without a liberal dose of ‘desi humour’?

Azhar is originally from Bihar, which he cheekily referred to as the ‘armpit of India’— with him trying to be its deodorant.  And whether he was listing the difficulties of getting a SIM card in this country, or the outrageous behaviour of auto drivers, he managed to keep his comedy light and extremely relatable throughout.

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