Will can, so Will will?

The same stage where AR Rahman picked up his Oscar for India a few years ago became the site of Will Smith picking up a familiar habit from India (and the Oscar, later). 

Published: 31st March 2022 01:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st March 2022 01:33 AM   |  A+A-

Will Smith, right, hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars on Sunday. (Photo | AP)

Will Smith, right, hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars on Sunday. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: This week was huge for India. Just when we thought we were the only obnoxious people overreacting to jokes, Will Smith said, ‘Hold my beer’ and smacked Chris Rock on international television. The same stage where AR Rahman picked up his Oscar for India a few years ago became the site of Will Smith picking up a familiar habit from India (and the Oscar, later). 

The entire world split into two (it often does these days) as people battled on for either Team Chris or Team Will as Zelensky secretly wondered who he had to smack to get the attention back to Ukraine.

Seems like offensivitis (noun: the disease of being offended) has crossed our borders and entered a place that has been a safe space for comedy for ages. But the incident itself sets a dangerous precedent -- of assaulters being awarded.

Rock’s joke, by itself, wasn’t the greatest punchline in the world. Not all jokes are. But using that as a justification for Will smacking him is a worse punchline. As a comedian, it is scary to think about getting smacked every time a joke tanks, because trust me, jokes tank more often than you think. If smacking a comedian for a bad joke becomes the norm, I’m sure you’ll find half of India’s open mic circuit in next year’s boxing and MMA finals because damn, we get a hellotta ducking practice. 

The question ‘Where do we draw the line in comedy?’ was brought up again, for the 30th time this year, like it’s the plague killing half the world’s population. But I believe that at the 30th time of asking, I have the answer: ‘Draw the line far away from the comedian and ask any audience who wants to punch the comedian to stay behind it.’

I believe it’s fair. Sometimes, I feel like we go after comedians because the bigger issues are out of our hands and we cannot solve them. Even if we ignore the humanitarian crisis of Ukraine for a second (or like we did after the first week of the war), a whole bunch of other, way more important things went down while we debated a silly, silly joke.

For the first time ever, the temperatures in Antarctica hit 30 degrees C. While we were busy adding yet another thing to the already million-strong list of issues that can’t be joked about, penguins in Antarctica wondered if they had taken a wrong turn and ended up in Lingampally.

No, I’m not trying to distract you from the issue, I’m saying the issue isn’t worth discussing at all. Like the optional questions in our exams, you can ignore this and not a single thing in the world would change. There’s absolutely no need to take jokes this seriously. If you still feel like talking about a comedian, please talk about how Putin is smacking Zelensky.

While The Oscars stage turned into ‘Willy Bonkers and The Smacking Factory’, way more important things went down in the world. For instance, the temperatures in Antarctica hit 30oC and the penguins wondered if they had taken a wrong turn and ended up in Lingampally, writes the author

(Bhavneet is a stand-up comedian and this may be his new material. The writer’s views are his own)


 



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