It seems only fair to react to a controversial subject that, according to NDTV.com, has ‘divided the country in half on Twitter’. And I think I might have a word (or hundred) on the subject. While, indeed, as crass and politically incorrect as the ‘haters’ make it out to be, AIB ought to be given their due—they prefaced their shenanigans by telling us they were working with a format, one that’s been making New Yorkers—and then, the rest of world—laugh since the 1940s.
There are people who like the Roast as a concept. And people who don’t. I’m of the latter variety. Taking digs at someone over and over about one painfully obvious trait seems to me terribly unimaginative. To see the crème de la crème of the comedy world accumulate in one place to do so seems even more futile.
The AIB Roast was the exception. Not because it was the best Roast I’ve ever seen (that would be the roast of one Donald Trump). But because it took the celebs—the very ones we’ve put on a pedestal in a glass castle—and it made them people. They were being made fun of for being too slutty (Ranveer), too talentless to function (Arjun), too stupid to know her ass from ISIS (Alia) and too scared to come out of his walk-in closet (Karan). Plus, it was actually was quite funny.
I’ve marvelled for years at this country’s inability to be truly funny on screen. I have tremendous respect for the Zoya and Farhan Akhtars of the world, who brought wit into the mix in a space where, in order to be funny, you had to be loud, overtly physical,—and incredibly careful.
If it wasn’t family humour, it wasn’t allowed. And if it was going to allude to anything mildly sexual, it needed to tread so delicately that it often didn’t even make a sound. I kept wondering how I could meet so many funny Indians on a daily basis, but have to scour the internet for the likes of a British sitcom (Try Coupling by Steven Moffat) or an Irish stand-up comedian (Dylan Moran’s Like Totally is a routine worth watching) for my comic amusement.
And the AIB Roast brought the problem into clear light. It’s too dangerous to be funny—fully, unabashedly, disgustingly funny—in this country because someone is always around the corner, waiting to be offended. Even in a situation where you have age and content warnings (like in this case) and have to 'click on link to view', people lie in wait, daggers drawn, needing to be upset about something.
AIB, as I gasp for a breath of comic relief in this world of Comedy Circus type entertainment shows, I reach out my hand (as far as it’ll go from my desk at work; it’s a lazy day) to you in solidarity. Sadly, it looks for a while that the only thing you can roast is a consolation chicken. Good luck and Godspeed.