Nothing funny about politics, Kunal Kamra!

With material as incendiary as this, it is little wonder that his bhakt of a landlady has asked him to vacate.

Most of you are familiar with the immortal line from Henry IV, ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,’ but there is a corollary which is far more apt in India. “Start house-hunting if you dare to speak truth to power”, as Kunal Kamra, one of a new breed of fearless comedians has ruefully learnt. His latest show taped before a live audience is scathing, incredibly funny and supremely topical. “Yaar, why can’t I vote directly for Ambani or Tata and cut out the middleman?” he asks earnestly, like a bespectacled teddy bear.

With material as incendiary as this, it is little wonder that his bhakt of a landlady has asked him to vacate. “ There r many political issues cmng up, wld be glad uf u take this as one month notice and empty the house.” No highbrow she, hopefully he won’t take her too literally and remove all her Chor Bazar furniture, if you will forgive a dreadful pun.

Kamra wryly posts, “As a comedian having a political opinion comes at a cost. Perhaps you are thinking ‘What is the big deal in making fun of people in power?’…But there are consequences. A corporation will call you 2 days before your show and say “Sorry, we’ll have to cancel this one because our CEO is a big fan of the PM and we don’t want any political jokes. You protest as you asked them this exact question 40 days ago...but they respond saying “He only joined last week, but let us work together on something soon”.

I feel CEO’s should concentrate on running companies while keeping their political views where they belong, in the toilet. The only exception is the Cherry Blossom CEO who is professionally qualified to bootlick and spit shine. “Something special is coming your way, did you cherryblossom your shoes today?” Most people assume that business and politics go hand in hand because of moolah; actually it’s power. Chamchas and colleagues squirm with pleasure when their masters smile, and tremble when they frown. In a culture where we brownnose tycoons and netas with equal enthusiasm, is it any wonder we are terrified of speaking truth to power?

Nobody ever steps up to a CEO and says, “Shut up, dude, you’re talking crap.” When Kamra does it to our Dear Leader, look what happens. Not only does he have to move out of his barsati in Shivaji Park but his gig at MS University, Ahmedabad, is cancelled thanks to student leaders mouthing the “anti-national” catchphrase. Arre baba, I can make allowances for my 84-year-old fauji uncle who bristles indignantly about teaching those Pakis a lesson, but at least he has 40 years in service. Unlike some 20 year old, fafda-munching, lassi-swilling sissy whose closest brush with combat was during dandiya ras. When they start mouthing off on patriotism, it’s a bit bloody thick. Got to toilet, potty mouth, stop defecating in the open, is what I say. Swaach Bharat.

Kamra moans that private gigs are rare, unless an event manager calls up to ask for clean, family- friendly humour. My friend Anuvab Pal has a simple one word response to shaadi gigs, “No.” If the caller is persistent he says, “What part of no did you not understand? When a girl says no, she means no.” Tragically, some dimwit at the other end will pedantically respond, “But Sir, you are a man, na?” Rather like the uncle on the airport bus who cuddles up when the automatic doors close and responds to your glare with, “Arre, why for you are getting annoyed, you are not a woman, na?” At the risk of sounding misogynistic, why should women get special treatment is what I want to know? Personal space should be gender-neutral.

Kamra says “Public figures will tell you privately that they love your work but will never share your stuff or stick up for you, denying even knowing you or having seen any of your shows. You think, ‘I don’t need this validation, the joy of doing stand-up is enough.’ Sometimes you get a FB enquiry and you give them your number which ends in abuse and threats.

While all this going on and you’re particularly suicidal, HDFC will message you asking you if you’ve linked your Aadhar Card.”

Shoot and I felt things were tough for journos; now I look back at my stand- up days and count my blessings. So, do I want NaMo or RaGa? Neither, but if Kamra stands, he has my vote.

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