At this point, I’ve spent a fair bit of time on watching the AIB Knockout video. While it makes no sense to throw good time after bad and write about it, I figured why not.
Let’s get a couple of things out of the way first. Was it any good? I went to watch a roast, and let’s just say that there was more sizzle than steak in the proceedings. Sure, there were a few moments, and they sadly belonged to KJo. I say sadly because I’m unable to fathom how a group of self-respecting ‘professional’ comics would let themselves be outclassed by KJo who, I don’t believe, even tried hard to outclass them. I sure hope that they had fun ’cause I don’t think I really did.
Comedy is art. In fact, it may be one of its highest forms. You’ll have a few Picassos and Rembrandts, and the rest will end up painting graffiti on street walls, writing jingles and designing cartoon characters for lunch boxes. That’s the harsh reality. But, here’s also the thing about art: There are naturals who bloom early, late bloomers and, those who will never bloom. It’s hard to tell how things will arrange themselves. So, we have no choice but to let darwinian selection play out, and let comedians do their thing. Let them be. Let them do their thing in as free an environment as humanly possible. Else, none of them might ever bloom.
I follow a couple of the AIB comedians (on Twitter), who write some outstandingly funny stuff. Wit, as PG Wodehouse said, is the coming together of things that were previously thought to be unconnected. Even by that high, nearly unattainable standard, these guys are funny. They have their moments, which are not infrequent. You know who they are. But, if AIB KO is any indication, what the Lord doled out to them in writing talent, he seems to have deducted from their comic timing and delivery. Or, maybe these guys are late bloomers. Truth be told, these guys have chosen one of the hardest professions to make a living. It’s easy to be critical, I know. We’re not the ones up there on the stage. But, greatness is often spurred by timely, harsh feedback. It’s in the spirit of tough love that I say this. I couldn’t care less if they are loony liberals or hate NaMo or politically biased or whatever things might make others uncomfortable. They are comedians, and that’s all that matters to me, for a sense of humor is a uniting force that is often ignored in this country. I really hope they go on to do well.
The funniest thing about AIB KO is not the roast itself. It’s the uproar and hoop-la over offensiveness and vulgarity. As the old jungle saying goes, “if you can’t stand the heat, log out of YouTube.” No one compelled anyone to watch the show. What I personally find offensive (since we’re all offended, I too have caught the virus) is that no one was offended by the show being not as funny as hyped.
So, you watched AIB KO and were offended. Let’s ponder over your predicament for the brief nanosecond it deserves. What did you expect? And, so effing what? Deal with it. Life’s tough, unfair and often filled with things that will make you uncomfortable. The sooner you learn to process discomfort, the better off you’ll be. If you want a shoulder on which to cry about being upset by a video that no one asked you to watch, I hope you don’t find one. Enough with the mollycoddling. Enough with the debates around what’s offensive and what’s not. Some lines will be crossed. That’s how it goes. That’s how change happens. If you’re easily offended, watch Sesame Street and have an ice cream. Stay the eff away from videos that openly proclaim themselves to be unfriendly to your sensitive inner child. As Voltaire or Beatrice Hall or whoever put it (loosely), people have a right to being unfunny, and we must defend their right to be so. Every day, people get up in the morning and go on to make asses of themselves. Last week, it was AIB’s turn. It’s all good, bro. Chill.
It’s entirely possible that more people clicked through to the AIB video, looking to see how offended they were going to be, than in search of a good laugh. In any case, AIB wins this round handsomely with over 7 million views on YT, and counting. For that, they possibly deserve some level of hollow, insincere applause.
Since I’m a nice guy, I’ll offer some free advice: “Hey AIB, don’t settle for banal mediocrity. You need to set your sights higher than getting ripples of obviously contrived laughter from a few Bollywood hacks. Vulgar is cool if you can learn how to wield it precisely like a scalpel, and not slash it around like a lower order primate with a sword. You really need to retire the fat and KJo-gay jokes that went out in the 90s. There’s got to be funnier ways to get eyeballs and page views. Be ruthlessly fair. Be uncompromisingly great. You’re not on the hook to make us proud. Eff proud. You’re here to make us laugh. God knows that this country could get used to laughing at itself. And God knows that it’s really hard to get this country to laugh at itself. I hope to God that you’re better than KJo the next time around. You keep doing your thing. And, we’ll (hopefully) keep watching until you (hopefully) bloom. Cheers.”