JUST FOR LAUGHS
MEET THE NEW CROP OF PUNJABI STAND-UP COMEDIANS ON INDIAN TELEVISION
Comedy in Punjab is serious business. The community’s penchant for humour has produced legendary comedians like I.S. Johar, Mehmood, Jaspal Bhatti, Bhagwant Mann and Gurpreet Ghuggi. However, it is the new-age Punjabi comedians that are a rage on the small screen. Their sharp wit sourced from everyday life and local lingo are becoming a staple at comedy shows. Not just smart mouths, these young comedians are also smart cookies, making big bucks through several live shows and stage performances.
Hitting the jackpot
Rajiv Thakur belongs to the breed of young Punjabi comedians whose spoofs on celebrities have won him a fan following. Thakur is not only the writer-director of several plays, but also an actor. His double role in SAB TV’S Sajan Re Jhooth
Mat Bolo has enthralled audiences. Thakur begun his career almost a decade ago, writing plays at Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar. The directoractor-turned-comedian has been featured among the top finalists of shows like Chhote Miyan Bade Miyan, Comedy Circus, Funjaabi Chak De and The Great Indian Laughter Challenge III.
“I never thought that what I did for fun at college would earn me not just my bread and butter, but cake and jam too!” laughs Thakur, pointing out that standup comedy is not just a hobby but a paying career now. “During the days of Doordarshan, a comedian could earn national fame by appearing in a few episodes of a soap, but would still be paid a pittance,” he says. “In fact, if he drove a Maruti 800, it was considered that he had ‘arrived’. But now, things are different. Even an ordinary comedian can make a decent living, thanks to the proliferation of channels.”
On the flip side, Thakur points out that even the most accomplished comedian finds it difficult to earn fame, because of the scores of channels competing for the audience’s attention,
Thakur credits the small screen for his success, “Comedy gets recognition on TV,” he says. “From villages, it has reached the cities and now it is on television.”