All for good humour

miscellany

All for good humour

All for good humour

Two friends, Joseph Reuben and H Subba Rao, classmates at the prestigious Maharaja’s College, Mysore, started a humour English weekly called The Irresponsible, nearly 100 years ago.

Citing the reasons for choosing humour as the genre, the two students wrote, “We have to laugh more than what we are doing now. The element of wit, which is the spice of life, is deplorably absent in us and it is our desire to publish witty and humorous sketches. We all need some diversions from the seriousness which characterises almost all our actions,” in the inaugural issue of The Irresponsible, launched on July 24, 1916.

At a time when freedom of expression was not even conceptualised in the country, it is remarkable how these two felt the need to laugh at themselves and also express it. Subba Rao and Joseph, who called themselves Nut and Ginger in the weekly, did not want to follow the dull routine of class lessons and wanted to lift the spirit of those equally bored around them with some wit and humour. And so every Monday, their four-page weekly, which cost half anna with a monthly subscription of two annas, hit the stands. While Nut looked after the content, Ginger oversaw its printing and distribution.

The Irresponsible did not carry full-length humorous articles. Most of them were titbits and fillers, mostly humorous takes on life around them. When they invited articles from public, one reader was bewildered and wrote back saying, “I am aware of only two articles — definite and indefinite.” The two editors used the space to write about college events too. The Irresponsible once interviewed a postman who claimed that his bounden duty was to “bringing smile to anxious lips and good cheer to broken hearts.” On another page, a honeymoon-returned author demolished the notion that an Indian lover is incapable of enjoying in full the sweet and enviable blessings of married life.

A letter to the editor described how one returned from the post office without being able to post a postcard because there were only two boxes, one for packets and another for letters, but none for postcards! An economics professor took offence when in one of the articles, it was jocularly mentioned that the real economists were mundi merchants. The two student editors panicked and decided to close down the newspaper but one Professor C R Reddy, who later became the principal of the college, stood by them and the magazine continued.

The Irresponsible’s reach was not just limited to the College campus. There was a demand for it even from the city. In fact, every quarter, the back issues were sold in a bound volume. But The Irresponsible’s life was limited to Joseph and Subba’s period of stay at the college. When they passed out, there was no one to take their legacy forward and the magazine was thus discontinued. 

Joseph and Subba Rao devoted so much time and effort to this venture that they were almost written off academically. But fortunately, they managed to scrape through the examination and a relieved C R Reddy even arranged a party to celebrate the event. Had The Irresponsible continued, it would have soon completed 100 years. Thankfully, Subba Rao’s son, Krishna, has preserved some of the back issues.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry