It’s World Laughter Day! But trolling is so unfunny
Comedians say that Indians do have a sense of humour, but a few trolls tend to dominate the narrative
The first Sunday of every May is observed as World Laughter Day. Now, comedians make most of us go ROFL, but they get a lot of trolling, too. How do the people who crack jokes deal with the angry hordes on social media who just didn’t get the joke?
Just to jog your memory, Hindustan Times had observed April 26 as AntiTrolling Day. Raising their voice against Internet bullies, some of the country’s top comedians share their antitrolling strategy.
Comedian and television anchor Cyrus Broacha (left) says that the trolling culture is scary for two reasons. “One, the person has so much time, and two, he has so much anger,” says Cyrus. “Now everybody has Facebook and Twitter, where unnecessary comments are pushed forward. The same people you talk to in school or college or office become very opinionated on Facebook. They talk down and become hostile. Their avatar changes when they go near the computer or the phone.”
His advice for dealing with trolls is not to attack them back. “You should apologise immediately and say that they are completely correct. Douse the fire as fast as possible. It has worked with my wife. I have survived so many years by saying sorry,” quips Cyrus.
Comedian Mallika Dua, whose Make-Up Didi videos on social media have a huge fan following, feels that trolling is
“a form of Internet terrorism”. She deals with it by being “very intolerant” towards trolls.
Comic and actor Rohan Joshi, of the comedy group AIB, says that trolls create only nuisance value. “I don’t think we’ve lost the ability to laugh at ourselves. I think that [trolls are] just a very vocal, fundamentalist minority and they dominate the narrative,” says Joshi. “And it’s always some political or religious group. They’re very good at creating nuisance.” His advice on handling trolls: “Block and report.” But what about free speech? “I’m a free speech absolutist. You can say whatever you want, but that doesn’t mean that I have to listen to you,” replies Rohan.
Stand-up comedian Sorabh Pant also feels that most Indians do have a sense of humour, and that “it’s just a small minority that doesn’t”. Pant feels that even though engagement is important for performing artists, he has no qualms about blocking and reporting who people who are vitriolic and issue threats.