The COVID-19 pandemic is serious and there seems to be no respite from that. Many continue to lose their lives owing to the lack of a specialised vaccine and is causing serious economic crisis all over the world. While many are struggling to accept the ‘new normal’, it is equally important to not let the pandemic rob us of our sanity. And, one thing that comes as a welcome relief in such difficult times is laughter. Jokes, cartoons and funny video clips are currently rife on social media as our daily lives are turned upside down. One theory in humour research suggests jokes become interesting if the topic is of particular importance. It seems that even if you are not the funny one yourself behind those videos or jokes, simply sharing humorous clips with others is just as effective a tool in brightening up the day. And, we all need a little of laughter in our lives right now.
Speaking on how important it is to find a few laughs in the current times, Sapan Verma, co- founder, East India Comedy says, “True, but it's not just about the laughs. It's about keeping yourself occupied. So you might pick a comedy video, a TV show, a book — anything that keeps you engaged and takes your mind off things.”
During serious discussions, office meetings and even at home, there is always someone who finds something funny even when the temperatures are high and discussions are heated. “It is important we laugh our heart out during those moments,” emphasizes Tushar Khair, a well-known face on YouTube who goes by the name @alamothashana. “There are times we miss on the genuine laughter opportunities while we are working. We find a lot of it at home when we are irritated with our family members. It is a good sight to see all crack up,” he further adds.
Renowned comedian Sorabh Pant, founder of East India Comedy, is watching a lot of stand-up and comedy shows which he earlier couldn’t due to busy schedule. For him it is a tonic which every comedian needs as it is also their right to laugh and be on the other side of the stage. “I am re-watching old episodes of Flop Show, an old Doordarshan show along with Curvey enthusiasm and all the shows I can. As a comedian you also need to be entertained and remain in a happy frame of mind. All of us are watching so much stuff which is aside from the household and professional works. I have watched several seasons of shows and a few movies,” he shares.
For Sarang Sathaye, founder BhaDiPa, “Corona has made us take a U-turn in life and the restlessness and stress is a bi-product of this. It was easy for the first 21 days of the lockdown. But, then stress started to trickle in. After discussing with a lot of friends it became clear that most of us are feeling the same. Humour is not just about content. Looking at life in a funny way is important.” Sathaye finds laughter in absurdity as the best way to make people and himself laugh. “The entire year has become absurd. However, there are small things that can be absurd and make us laugh.” Sathaye and his team is working on content which might not have any connection with the current crisis and yet bring laughter. “Too much of comedy over pandemic might not do well for the audience. Slowly we need to think about life beyond and after the crisis,” he sums up.
That being said, how are the artistes dealing with these difficult times? Verma agrees that his sleep cycle has gone for a toss. “I still have a routine in place which has everything from work to playing video games to a workout to house cleaning,” he says. When it comes to staying relevant, Verma is all about sitting and write stand-up sets, work on developing scripts and new show formats. There's enough and more to do.
Khair is working from home via video conferencing and WhatsApp messages. “Currently we are working on finding new content and speaking with brands. Now we are working on Rewind shots. We are using our old videos, editing them and adding in current happenings to make something that will make people laugh. Online classes, virtual meetings are some pointers we are working on.”
Pant has kept himself busy by working on a numerous things. “I want to work and be working so much that I do not have time to look at what someone is saying about me or how the trolls are trying to get at me,” he says with a lot of determination. “I have two podcasts, of which one is in Hinglish. It is the first time I am doing something in Hindi. It has 21 episodes. I might also do a couple more as bonus. Also there is Pant Plus 1, which is a series of interviews. I am working on a non-fiction book which should be out by year end. A screenplay is also on the cards and something else might also be picked up in the process,” expresses Pant while sharing a list of things on he is occupied with.
Pant feels comedians have the privilege of making money even when they are working from home. He feels one should feel humbled that they are making money as not all are able to do so. “If I can bring a smile on someone’s face who is not having a good time due to the current scenario, I feel honoured,” he concludes.