Why is AIB against Narendra Modi


Stand-up comedy is a regular feature in every major city in India. The middle and upper classes are particularly drawn to the live shows. Ever since there was trouble with individual comedians, stand-up comedy has been out of the niche and on the social radar. Rajneesh Kapoor and Neeti Palta are both successful stand-upper. They hold back when joking about gods.

I reported on stand-up comedy for Deutschlandradio Kultur for Weltzeit. The report ran on June 19, 2017. The audio is still available for a few weeks to listen to:

Stand-up comedy has been on the rise in India for a few years. So right. The stage is about politics, sexuality and religion. The audience is young and belongs to the upper and middle class, because the evenings are relatively expensive.

There are various reasons for the boom. In the cities there is now a middle and upper class who can afford such evenings. Because the shows are relatively expensive. Then there is the new media: The comedians present themselves on YouTube and Facebook. You don't need television to get known.

More satire, more opinion

Comedy is not new to India. There are a lot of comedy shows on television - in Hindi or other Indian languages. They are very successful and have an audience of millions. But these shows are more for the whole family; they rely more on slapstick, ridicule and aping.

Stand-up comedy, on the other hand, relies more on satire and more opinion. For the upper-class Neeti Palta, this form of conversation has a lot to do with observation. She calls her humor observant.

Neeti Palma was once a writer for Sesame Street in India. Today she does stand-up comedy very successfully. (Photo: Lokesh Dang & Saurabh Suryan)

Neeti is one of the few female comedians and she is very successful - with appearances all over India as well as abroad.

When she goes on stage, she thinks about what will go online later or not. Because through the Internet, her humor also reaches an audience that doesn't believe in jokes about gods or politicians and calls for hateful tirades on the Internet.

The privileged sit in the audience

Her colleague Rajneesh Kapoor is also sensitized when it comes to the hardliners. And they have been on the rise since 2014 when the BJP won the parliamentary elections. Since then, radical Hindu nationalists have repeatedly interfered in the cultural scene.

Rajneesh takes it sporty. He loves what he does. As a stand-upper and also a cartoonist, he is constantly refining his humor. He just enjoys making jokes.