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What if comedy and humour weren't subjective?

Published: 04th June 2016 06:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th June 2016 06:42 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: A man walks into a bar. The bartender says that the joke format has been overused, and bars have been portrayed in bad light.

The man says, “Whiskey, large”.

Bartender succumbs to temptation of the trope and delivers the punch line, anyway.

The world we live in is an incomplete maze with every crevice and corner churning out infinite possibilities. The incomprehensible part about this maze, however, is that these possibilities are sometimes, a handful, seemingly impossible; in other words, the cruxes of these events are dealt with, only in hypotheticals and speculative histories.

Bhargav.jpgOne such hypothetical that seems to have masqueraded as a reality and crept into our already strange ideological ecosystem is subjectivity or its lack thereof. Perspectives, interpretations, and opinions are what have led to the creation of this sometimes-polarizing world. But, where does subjectivity come into question? When the populace of a nation begins to dictate opinion and narrow vantage points.

Comedy stems from unpredictability. Knowing how a joke works kills the quintessence of comedy. Jokes are the pinnacle of exercising interpretation.

Tickling the funny bone isn’t a meditated act but it is, in fact, a reflex. And this particular reflex varies from being to being. Stripping that reflex away and making sure that only a particular kind of humor strikes a chord with everyone while other brands of humor don’t mark the rise of a totalitarian government.

So, what if comedy isn’t subjective? This is in accordance with recent happenings that have clearly made a statement with respect to making a joke – there are rules when it comes to making a joke. And these rules have nothing to do with the artistic nature of the joke, but it does, in fact, have to do with the “political correctness” and the nature of the joke.

Laughing is a primal reflex and when you find something funny, you don’t find it funny because it is politically incorrect or offensive, but you find it funny because, well, you find it funny. Going back to the basics, comedy stems from unpredictability. And what’s unpredictable to one person might be predictable to another. Deriving from that, what’s tickling one person’s funny bone might leave another one’s untouched.

The question that’s been plaguing me is how can you make something that you have no control over, objective. No matter how politically incorrect and offensive a particular joke might be, there is a good chance that there is always that one person in some nook of the world who’s going to find that funny. Imposing objectivity on the person who made the joke and the person finding the joke funny mark the advent of a government only seen so far in George Orwell novels.

Even as a hypothetical, weeding out the subjective nature of comedy seems impossible. If the incorrectness of a joke wrangles with sensitivity, well, then, the joke is just not for you.

(When he isn’t writing, the creative producer with The Rascalas watches a lot of ‘cat videos’ on YouTube)

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