Man of the hour: Karthik Kumar's latest special addresses mansplaining

Comedian Karthik Kumar gets candid about his special 'Aansplaining'
Karthik Kuma
Karthik Kuma

Karthik Kumar has worn many hats — actor, director, entrepreneur, author, and stand-up comedian. As we toggle between each, we come to the understanding that this performer has not only prevailed in the depiction of funny and impactful materials but also influenced the people of the South to think actively.

On similar lines of presenting humour with depth and thought, he observes, “People do not look at humour anymore as only ‘tell me a bunch of jokes and make me laugh’. People want to understand new subjects of perspectives through humour.” This is a major change that Karthik, the stand-up comic, has observed. Aansplaining (a Tamil take on the word ‘mansplaining’) is his special that follows a similar structure. We rope Karthik in for a quick chat about the material he has presented in other cities as part of Aansplaining, how the audience has received it, what drove him to write such a set and more.

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Karthik begins the conversation around the driving factor behind creating this special. “The ideation started during Covid, when I realised I had no job. Being an actor, stand-up comic, performer and entrepreneur, for two-and a-half years, I had no income. Now, in my 40s, when I realised I didn’t have an income, I suddenly also realised I’m not a man anymore,” he expresses. This perception of a cause-and-effect relationship between income and manhood is further enunciated by him. “Men get asked, ‘what do you do’ before they get asked how do you do,” he highlighted adding, “Somehow our manhood is connected to what we are capable of doing in society.” As this thought unravelled in his mind, Karthik felt he needed to revisit the definition of ‘being a man’. “Is it my bank balance? Is it my ability to bring in income?” he ponders

In response to this question, Aansplaining is born. As we ask Karthik about his idea of the general perception of masculinity and gender inequality in India, the comic has this to say, “I think it’s evolving. We are allowing for different shades of masculinity.” He compares these shades to the sargams in music. “Within this concept itself, there is sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, sa... This means that we can be different kinds of men. It’s up to us to figure out who we are, rather than conforming to the pre-scripted definition of man.” He points out such preconceived definitions and opines that in no way should one subscribe to them. Further, he jokingly adds, “Why do I have to lift a weapon? I can choose not to. That is also being a man.”

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Karthik also tells us that the name of the show is a deliberate irony. “I don’t want to talk about somebody else’s experience and go around explaining it to them, which is what mansplaining means,” he explains, adding, “It’s completely authentic to me, rather than at some level saying, what the other gender would be feeling at that point of time. And I am the only one with the mic in the room, so it’s tongue-in-cheek to call it mansplaining.”

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