Some things are not funny anymore – Gulf News

The story is also about a stand-up comedian who now handles the obituary pages
People around the globe are losing their sense of humour which makes it difficult for jokesters like me and for irreverent stand-up comedians who may have to move to more sober professions.
I like to write about the fads and foibles of humans, their crazy political affiliations, mainly because most readers are fed up of the violence in the news and reading something cheerful and funny will give them a good start to the day, or so I thought.
In today’s really crazy world, I do not have to spend much time to think up something funny, because most of the news in the other pages of the newspaper is really, totally over the top, and all I have to do is twiddle some things that politicians say and I have a funny column.
Just to be on the safe side I show the column to my wife, which is the wrong thing to do as a writer, because my wife is an unflinching critic and does not mince words about what she thinks about my pieces.
Writers (even those who write meaningless, so-called funny stuff) are very fragile people, just as movie stars, stand-up comedians and of course, politicians who just cannot stand anyone criticising them, or they break down and have to take meditation classes and do yoga and breathe through one nostril, just to get back on track in life.
While I sit biting my nails to the quick, my wife never smiles, even when I write the most ridiculous of things and even when I get fan mail telling me how much they laughed reading it.
My mother-in-law, on the other hand, loves my jokes and would sometimes giggle very loudly, which my wife thought was very undignified.
“What are you trying to say here?” she suddenly would ask reading my final draft. “You will get into trouble. I can’t spend all my weekdays trying to get you out of jail. The trick is not to get into trouble nowadays, ” she would say firmly.
“Don’t you see”? I tell her. “This politician really believes that …”
“You wanted my opinion. Just take it out,” says my wife, sounding like the censor-in-chief.
I am not sure when stand-up comedy started in India (which is based on the American model of comedy that involves swearing like a sailor and making fun of the ticket-paying audience), but in the recent past, there have been crazy scenes on the stage.
This occurred recently as the comedian was saying: “And when my father came in and looked what was in my hand, he said …”.
Stop, says someone in the audience, jumping agilely on to the stage. “Don’t you know in our culture we respect our elders,” and he gives a resounding slap to the comedian.
“But he’s my father and he is not really crazy, this is all made-up stuff,” says the comedian weeping.
“We don’t care,” says the burly man. “We are going to call the police for trying to mess with our traditions.”
When you have spent all your life looking at the absurd side of nature and humanity and suddenly you are told to pursue some other stream of work, it becomes stressful.
“Can’t you write some serious stuff, like coronavirus and anti-maskers,” said one editor. “Funny stuff is a no-no nowadays. maybe things will change in a couple of years. Think about it. Learn sports writing, or finance, or environment.”
Suddenly, I am interested. “What if I write about how bovine poo and how it is contributing to greenhouse gases?”
“Noooo. Why don’t you learn a new skill, like plumbing, for example. In these pandemic times there is a shortage of plumbers.
By the way, meet our new writer. He used to be a stand-up comedian and now he handles our obituary pages. Cheer up. Move with the times.”
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi

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