‘Gender in Indian Standup Comedy’ – Kenny Sebastian

**In this 10-blog series, Priyanka Londhe examines various popular stand up comedy artists, and how they humorously capture gender issues through their work.**

“Being in a relationship for 3 years, you learn some things, certain rules you have to follow especially if you are dating an Indian girl. It is because Indian girls have a lot of restrictions unfortunately. Every Indian girl who has to lie to her parents to date a guy is like in a covert Russian spy mission. She is always on the lookout, “Is that my mom? Is that my dad? Is that my uncle! Oh shit! F*ck oh! Put a moustache!” When her mom calls, you NEVER disturb that call. Do NOT disturb the girl and her mother call. Because like an idiot I went like, “hehehe whom are you talking to you? Is it your mom?” and she was like, “NO! MOVE AWAY! YOU FOOL! YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF SHE KNOWS… Ya mom… yes…  I am doing pooja… ya we are studying, chilling.” I have seen girlfriends turn into hulks…”

“Rule no. 3 of dating an Indian girl. It is a very weird thing but it shows your character. You have to drop your girlfriend to the auto rickshaw. It makes sense when it gets really dark but it makes no sense to me if it is before 5 p.m. Guys are horrible at catching auto rickshaws. The worst part about catching an auto rickshaw is that you have to judge the auto… if it is like dark… like 7 pm, 8 pm, 9 pm and you have to drop your girlfriend, you have to judge the auto driver. You go like, “okay he looks like a murderer! He looks like rapist. Okay that one! He looks very weak, malnourished… Okay here here sir… you stop… nothing he will do. Nothing!”

“…Also there is one thing, guys don’t know how to say sorry. Guys have this ego so they don’t apologize a lot but women apologize a lot. Have you noticed? I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. They (the women) have a bank where they collect all sorry’s. They say sorry for stupid shit that does not matter, “oh my god! I know you asked for apple but there is a banana! Is it okay? I am so sorry!” And you are like, “That’s… that’s fine… I am just slightly hungry.”


For the entire episode of Kenny Sebastian, log on to the YouTube video, ‘Dating Rules Indian Guys need to follow’. The Indian standup comedy industry is not only a new entrant in the list of cool career aspirations millennials seek but it is also a burgeoning culture of re-assessing and inserting humor in the ‘Indianness’ of an Indian life. It is through live performances / Open Mic nights that almost all the standup performers launch themselves. After which they financially optimize upon their live performance content through YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, SnapChat, Instagram and Facebook. Some of the standup comedy artists create separate content for Instagram and Snapchat.

The live performances and standup comedy stars are managed by new media organizations like East India Comedy, Canvas Laugh Club, Only Much Louder, A Little Anarky, KWAN etc. The target audience for new media is youth who extensively consumes internet. A lot of content is in Hinglish and hence the audience is required to know, understand and ideally speak the same in order to enjoy the humor. Keeping the target audience demographics in mind, we are looking at standup comedy to be popular in Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Pune, Kanpur, Indore, Jaipur, Vadodara, Nagpur, Lucknow, Patna, Vishakapatnam, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Gwalior and Gandhinagar. The aforementioned cities belong to the Tier 1 and Tier 2 classification. These classifications are arrived upon after calculating income of an individual and house rent expenditure.

The new media standup comedy questions the morality of India’s socio-culture fabric while the mainstream media standup comedy merely laughs at it or worse still reinforces certain questionable ideologies. At the outset, both seem to be thriving in the entertainment industry. However, which of the category an individual patronizes speaks a lot about that person’s own mindset.