What does a joke mean to the men & women striving to make people laugh?
Ahead of International Joke Day, we get in touch with four stand-up comedians from the city to get some serious answers
Singular is the concept of jokes that it seems finite at best. But, like love, it has transcended times and is well alive today. What's more, it seems to be most sought after now than ever before, such is the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people's lives.
Ahead of this International Joke Day (July 1), we ask the people who have made cracking jokes their life, ie, stand-up comedians, what jokes mean to them. Their responses are surprisingly not on the lighter side, but rather serious.
Karthik Kumar or KK, as he is known in the stand-up world, is well qualified to speak on the matter. Having appeared on the silver screen, he took up stand-up and has grown leaps and bounds in the field. So much so that he even founded Evam Standup Tamasha with likeminded people. So, what do jokes mean to him?
"For me a joke is the most non-violent form of protest. If you are angry or sad, a joke is a way in which you can positively express that emotion. It conveys to people that you have felt something and therefore it is a way of bringing an issue to everyone's attention so that they will listen to it," he begins.
Karthik says jokes are a language of communication in society and insists that one should not try and shut jokes down. "Stand-up comedians are important truth-tellers. They tell you the truth of the world around them. The more people laugh and identify with it, you know that it is a universal truth. It is an important voice of democracy," he clarifies. As for celebrating International Joke Day, Karhik Kumar says celebrating humour is "celebrating ourselves."
Another big name in the game is Praveen Kumar, known for his 'Family Man' series of shows. For him jokes simply meant fun and happiness, that is before he dived head first into the stand-up comedy field. "Now, jokes mean everything to me. Writing jokes is an every day habit. It has become a part of my life, like having a cup of coffee is. It is my bread and butter now," he states.
"Jokes are necessary in one's life. I have lost count of people who have confided in me that they watch comedy, be it a stand-up or any other form before they go to sleep in order to doze peacefully. People under a lot of stress need jokes as humour takes the stress away and makes you happy,' Praveen adds.
Funnily enough, Praveen, who will be in town for his show Family Man Returns that will take place on July 2, wants every day to be celebrated as the International Joke Day. "People want Valentine's Day to be celebrated each day and it should be the same with Joke Day too. We need happiness in life and should spread joy and therefore jokes. People deserve to smile, laugh and be happy everyday," he ends.
Having reached out to prominent names, we spoke with a stand-up comedian who is slowly finding her footing in the field. Syama Harini says a joke for her is innate. "I write jokes of things I know. It is something that comes from everyday life, from what I see, it can be from somebody I know, that's from where I take my jokes from. I do not write jokes on engineering and politics for I am neither," she states.
On a serious note, Syama adds that people want to be happy and live a chilled life which cannot happen without jokes and laughter. "It is important to celebrate the Joke Day because, at the end of the day, jokes keep us happy," says the Chennai resident, adding that as long as a joke doesn't hurt anybody and makes people laugh, that's a good joke in her books.
Finally, there's Manoj Prabhakar, who quit his IT job for a career dedicated to making people happy. "Anything that makes one laugh can be a joke and a joke is just a statement, if the listener does not have the context or relatability. In that respect, jokes to me are a reflection of my perspectives and thoughts with a funny twist. The more surprising and more relatable your statement is, the more funny it becomes," says Manoj.
To him, it is great if people are funny, for that means they are open minded. "I believe they would take less offense in general. It's absolutely fine if someone is not funny as well. But what is important is to understand and appreciate the funniness in others if they think they aren't a funny person. This would make them take things lightly and live a life that is less stressful," he claims.