Stand up for comedy

Anjali Jhangiani
Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Comedian Rahul Subramanian was recently targeted, threatened and even stopped from presenting his act at Pune Comedy Festival. However, no police complaint has been made yet. But what makes us wonder is — why is humour being taken so seriously    

In his new solo special available on Amazon Prime, Kal Main Udega, comedian Rahul Subramanian talks about how he ‘hates’ DJs. For those who haven’t watched the four-minute clip he posted on Facebook on March 26, he says that he hates going to the club because of the DJ there, who apparently controls the vibe of the place. He also has serious concerns about people ‘wooooooing’ when they are asked to make some noise by the DJ.

Now, there are two ways to react to this clip — you either like or dislike it. If you like it, you’ve already had a good laugh, if not, consider those four minutes wasted and move on to something more entertaining. Some DJs, and those who like to call themselves that, were offended because they believed that Subramanian belittled their work, the effort required to remix a song and play at a club, and the talent to keep the crowd engaged. Some of them asked the comedian to take off the video, others abused him filthily and threatened him with violence.

However, there were folks like DJ Jasmeet from Bengaluru, who took the video in the right spirit. He made a dubstep remix of Subramanian’s clip, and while posting it he captioned it, ‘I personally believe one must learn to laugh at one’s ownself. Let each one do what they know best!’
Paranox, aka Parakh Mathur, from Bhopal also made a fun edit of Subramanian’s video and started the hashtag #TuDJHai. Subramanian had only one thing to say to this on his Facebook page, ‘These are just jokes. Jokes are not news. News are to be taken seriously.’

When Subramanian posted a poster of his act at Lord of the Drinks Barrel House, a pub in Gurgaon, the following day, he received comments indicating violence. Nevertheless, the comedian made it to the venue and the show went on as it should have, till something not so funny happened. ‘I was performing in Gurgaon and I was informed that there were some people waiting for me outside the venue, one of them being a guy who had apparently threatened to beat me up if he ever met me (of course after a handshake and a couple of drinks),’ posted Subramanian. He added that he has been performing the same set across the country and abroad for the last two years in clubs where the DJs in the audience have not taken offence, but instead had a good laugh. ‘It’s because they know it’s a stand up set and stand up comedy is about looking at things from a different perspective and bringing out the humour in it,’ says his post. He adds, ‘Type any profession + standup on YouTube and you are likely to come across at least one stand up comedy bit on that.’

Many people have expressed their hurt because the comedian literally says, ‘I hate DJs’ in his clip. To that, Subramanian answered, “People have taken offence because in the set I say, ‘I hate DJs’ which means I don’t actually hate them of course, I just said it in a stand up set. To give some context to it, this is a clip from one of my stand up specials Kal Main Udega — Stand up comedy with ‘no message’. The running theme of the whole special is making absurd jokes on random things. You have full right to dislike my comedy, cuss me, hate me, say the worst possible things to me — that’s your freedom of expression and I completely support that. As long as you don’t threaten me, I respect your right to be offended and criticise.”

Well, there you have it. But a group of DJs, some people have even called them an association of DJs, who were deeply offended by the comedian’s clip, expressed their fury in ways that were uncalled for. Subramanian was supposed to perform on the second day of Pune Comedy Festival 3.0 which was held at Royal Palms, Koregaon Park, from March 29-April 1. However, he did not take the stage as an infuriated group of people not only sent him death threats, but also threatened to vandalise the event. Keeping the safety of the audience in mind, the comedian was replaced by someone else.

Avinash Agarwal, founder, Classic Rock Coffee Co. India, who organised the festival, took the stage on Sunday to say how heartbroken he was because Subramanian could not perform due to the threats. However, he was unavailable for any further comment.

There has been no FIR or NC filed at either the Koregaon Park or Mundhwa police stations yet by any person offended by the comedian, the organisers of the festival, or the comedian himself.

Audiences feel that this kind of bullying should not be tolerated. Who are these people who feel that they can intimidate artists and organisers into altering the plans of an event? Who are these people who cannot take a joke, who feel that they need to deprive the audience of a good show and go out on a limb and make sure that the artist does not take the stage just because they lack the ability to laugh at themselves? Is this a political stunt? But then what does politics have to do with DJs? These are the questions the audiences want answers to.

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