No Country For Funny Men: AIB Kicks Where it Hurts

Now anyone who is even a tad bit active on social media must be aware of the fiasco surrounding the recent AIB roast. The Maharashtra government, on 3rd February ordered a probe into a comedy show organized by AIB after receiving multiple complaints regarding its content. At least two police cases have been filed against the event, alleging that it violated religious sentiments.


Well, they deserved this!
It’s not like they warned us about the kind of content in the video, did they?  My, those swear words, I was genuinely surprised.

aib-roast-warning-1Source: Google Images

The image above is fictional; any resemblance to any warning issued or not, is purely coincidental.

And lest it’s still unclear, all of us were forced to watch it. There was no involvement of free will or individual decision making. Our laptops and phones held as captive to an hour long (still edited version) session of crass, filthy, abusive, indecent, tactless, insensitive, forgot the point in all these adjectives…Jokes, yes. They were jokes.

AIB, how dare you?

How dare you insult ‘icons’ publicly and make money off of it? You should have donated that money, why do you have to be so selfish huh?

2 (4)Source: Google images + editing on Paint
Dear AIB, the path is beaten for a reason. You’re supposed to stick to it. The fact that you tried to do something ‘unique’, ‘refreshing’ and it is difficult to say this ‘different’ is so appalling, the social media sphere will not get over it. Some of the jokes were so different it hurt our Indian sensibilities. Roasting Aditi Mittal, a woman like she was equal to a man?

Come on, you know we’re about 10 years away from doing that.

Touching upon the issue of vulgarity,

4 (4)Source: Google Images

Comedians, take note. Censor board members show you how it’s done. And somehow, even after public backlash, Ashoke Pandit will get away with insulting an ‘icon’ publicly, and let me add, with malicious intent.

Unfortunately, things aren’t as easy for AIB.
Their foray into insult comedy, involved the consent and appreciation of everyone associated with the event. However the roast, despite receiving over 8 million views and raising over Rs. 40 lakh for charity was heavily criticized by members of political parties in Maharashtra, where the show took place.

“We will not allow any film featuring the actors present at the AIB comedy show to be released in Mumbai, until they tender an apology.” – Amey Khopkar, President, Maharashtra Navnirman Chitrapat Sena.

This is like saying – Since you enjoyed chocolate already, we refrain from giving you it to you anymore. Even though we neither make the chocolate nor sell it.

“This show is vulgarity and any cultured person would not watch it. We want the government to step in and stop such shows, or else we will disrupt such events,” – JitendraAwhad, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)

Events, in fact, have been disrupted. For example, Aditi Mittal’s show in Mumbai, cancelled recently due to political protest over her participation in the roast.

It’s technically, not wrong for political activists to oppose impolite content. Alluding that it lies in complete contradiction of Indian culture and values is unfounded. Culture is insanely dynamic, growing with almost every event that shapes our beliefs and attitudes, from every derogatory tweet and political scandal to every comedy show and R-rated scene in mainstream Bollywood movies.

5 (4)Source : Google Images
The Knockout was one of the few times independent artists, in their own words “tried to push the envelope”, but it ended up pushing back, which was to be expected but till what extent do we let it?

The link of the AIB roast –

6 (4)Source : Google Images

Even though they were not forced to, AIB took the videos down from their channel.
Amidst all the controversy, AIB’s open letter doing the rounds contains explanations they shouldn’t have to make.

“With the Knockout, in our own juvenile, idiotic way, we wanted to push the envelope of comedy in this country. But then the envelope pushed back. Things got to a point where people who have supported us, people who work hard to make what we do come to life, were put in a position where things could get deeply unpleasant for them. And that’s a problem. We can live with abuse, hate, anger, fury, rage, ignorance, bigotry and perhaps even bullying. But we don’t want anybody to get hurt because of us. And we do mean anybody” – An excerpt from the letter.

It would take a prejudiced view to say that these men meant harm to our sensibilities and wished to offend any community or our culture as a whole, in any way.

The Maharashtra government seems to share this view as Culture minister, Vinod Tawde tweeted “”On #AIBRoast, will only enquire if the AIB had taken appropriate certificate. No moral policing… If they are allowed by law, I can’t stop them,”

It’s gratifying to know that Tawde kept the incident strictly centered on the legality of it.

Speaking of roasts, the concept of which has been around since 1910, meaning it’s older than independent India (and your mom), is quite simply the mock counter of a toast. The jabs are not considered as serious criticism or insult, but facilitate the good old spirit of taking a joke. Popular channel, Comedy Central has televised (in India as well) roasts of well-known stars like James Franco and Charlie Sheen, boasting of even more exciting panels.

And look how badly some Make in India was received?

Defending AIB, legions of fans and comics spoke up. The Viral Fever took to YouTube, urging the viewers to think about this fiasco, to think about how this is not about one show with cuss words. Humor remains one of the most subtle and effective ways to entertain, educate and sensitize, but apparently this is not a country for funny men. There has to come a time when we tear up the envelope into pieces so little even AAP wouldn’t use them for advertisement.

And just like AIB began their letter, I end this article – “I may not agree with you, but I will defend to death my right to get offended. How dare you? Baahar mil.” – Desi Voltaire

P.S – Just imagine the reaction 50 Shades of Grey will get.
But maybe it’s okay to watch (edited) porn in darkened theatres (Sometimes in assembly meetings) as opposed to swearing openly.



By Manvika Athwani


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