How The Internet Became The Funniest Place In India #satire #memes #GIFs #videos #puns #Facebook #Twitter #parody #uncensored
The Internet has shown us how videos can be a wonderful medium to make fun of anything and not give a *darn* about it
Online comedy is democratic. You forge a joke, and then the Internet embraces it. Your joke can then be reforged and re-appropriated by people who could be thousands of miles away on a park bench in Krakow, until it takes on a life of its own. Two weeks later, it’s back in your lap as a WhatsApp message, email or Facebook share.
Eight months ago, our collective, All India Bakch*d (AIB), jumped into the online video sandbox with our own YouTube channel. It’s been one of the most entertaining, exhausting and, most importantly, liberating experiences we’ve had as comedians. Most mass media in India is censored to the point of irrelevance. “Beef ”, “nipple” and “lesbian” get beeped out, so there’s no hope for anything remotely edgy. More than one channel has approached us with paranoid briefs like “We want to do a weekly half-hour show about Indian politics for the election BUT you can’t take the name of any politician.”
The joy of a self-publishing
platform like YouTube is that we don’t have to work to anybody’s briefs, bow to anyone’s sensibilities or kowtow to anybody’s prejudices. We get to make the jokes we want to make and say the things that we think need to be said, with little censorship. And if someone tries to censor us, we can just make a video about the fact that someone tried to censor us. The refreshing thing about working online has been getting to talk about the things that matter to us, on our terms. With no client or authority to report to, there’s little gap between the original idea and its execution. On our channel, we’ve been able to talk about everything from violence against women to LGBT rights and the idiocy of our political masters. Censorship Censorship has made Indian humour coy and blunted its egde over the last few decades. decades. But on the Internet, we can call a spade a f****ng b*****d spade.
We’ve all grown up on a diet of American and British sitcoms, stand-up and sketch comedy shows, and we’ve absorbed their tropes, styles and even their clichés. The liberating thing about online video is that it gives us the chance to replicate that idiom, but with references (pop-cultural and traditional) that are relevant to us as Indians. Better still, this happens at a fraction of the cost a TV production would require. All it really takes to start your own YouTube channel is a camera and the Internet. Best of all, at that price, you also theoretically have a larger reach than any one TV channel can offer. A TV show airs at a specific time in a specific country/state/city. Online, our videos are available to the entire world, for free, and they’re also available forever, to be viewed at your convenience.
Our favourite thing about working on videos for the Internet is the scale of the canvas. When you do a live stand-up act about Diwali for example, you ask an audience of 300 to imagine how annoying fireworks are, and the idiocy of festival shopping frenzy, and the countless boxes of dryfruit that show up at your door. But when AIB did a video about Diwali, we got to put those words into visuals, to act that out and add visual gags and physical comedy and tiny touches that would never work in a spoken-word piece. And why 300 people? It’s a joke we’ve been able to share with 4,30,153 and climbing.