Ajit Saldanha has a finger in the pie, and another on the political pulse. And when he writes, he cooks up a storm.

On the contrary: Write Off

Published Dec 3, 2017, 7:28 am IST
Updated Dec 3, 2017, 7:28 am IST
Alas, modernity and smartphones have conspired to render a once noble profession obsolete.
Comedians are referred as lunatics in a nerve-wracking profession.(Photo: Pixabay)
 Comedians are referred as lunatics in a nerve-wracking profession.(Photo: Pixabay)

Mature readers will recall a gentler era when the professional letter-writer reigned supreme in his town or village. He was privy to the most intimate secrets of his clients ranging from lover to landlord. Sunrise could find him penning a love note (tell Manju how I long to bury my face in her long, black hair, but tell her not to use Parachute coconut oil tonight), by lunch his services may have been requisitioned by a creditor (tell Mohan to return the loan by tomorrow or I'll break his legs) while sundown could find him composing a job application for Raja Naresh (PUC failed 3rd attempt). Alas, modernity and smartphones have conspired to render a once noble profession obsolete. Call me old-fashioned, but I think it's sad. 

I once ghost- wrote a rebuttal for an amateur stand-up comedian, Dash, who had been panned by a creepy journalist with frustration issues: the guy had been waiting to unleash his purple prose on the fashion page with a Bidapa bouquet, but had been assigned to 'stray dog menace' and pourkarmika strike. Consequently his outlook on life had soured and when he was told to cover Dash's show in Koramangala, one could almost visualise him licking his lips. The review was a standard "trashing" replete with "cheap amateur humour" and "from my knowledge of American comics", basically fluff designed to impress the gullible.

 

Dash's use of notes came in for particularly harsh criticism but since he was rich, the fashionista prudently used 'Tito Taylor' instead of his usual byline. 

Dear Tito,
Gossip columnists who cower behind the foliage of Tito Taylor remind me of flashers and bottom pinchers who run a mile when cornered. Why tito taylor? Teetotaller? Dude, you're probably better off having a few stiff ones than struggling to get published on the letters page. Judging by your output, there can't be that many brain cells to damage, so why you abstain is a mystery. It is tiresome to perform comedy and then explain it, just as there is little to be gained by taking the high road with a lowlife. Suffice it to say, my introduction was intended to portray the gulf between amateurs like myself and professionals like Jerry Seinfield: comparisons are odious, but the fact that you took this seriously was flattering.

I referred to comedians as lunatics in a nerve-wracking profession while I do stand-up once a year for fun. If the venues I perform at could afford a teleprompter, I'd use one, but until then I just paper over the cracks in my memory with notes on recycled paper. Also the schools I went to in the "underdeveloped" world to which I belong all spelt trash with only one "h". In calling my shows 'thrash', I presume you refer to the noun, not the verb, which, by the by, is precisely what your father should have done in your youth. A sound thrashing may not have made you a better writer, but possibly a better human being. 

Coming to Seinfield, he has a hundred well paid gag writers while Jennifer Aniston and Dave Shwimmer of "Friends" get a million bucks per episode; I performed for a thousand bucks. When freeloaders like you start paying for their drinks and entertainment, I'll take my Alzheimer's medication and memorise my set. Until then, your choices are pretty clear. Stay home, clear your DTH bill and watch Seinfield. 
Sincerely,

Dash
Aeons ago, my friend Jonathan Atherton lost an argument with a truck and spent a year recuperating in a Bangkok hospital. To while away the boredom, he took up a job writing letters for Thai bar girls to their "farang" boyfriends. "No, no, Nattapong, you cannot just say, 'Gimme money, you have to be romantic…'" Being a literary type, he initially quoted Proust and Simone de Beauvoir but switched to Harold Robbins when the demand increased and he took to charging by the word. He had a charming name for his service, advertised on handbills and flyers: I think it was called Write Off. 





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