We Indians Finally Learnt to Laugh this Decade | #Decadehop #RRxMM

 We Indians Finally Learnt to Laugh this Decade

 We Indians Finally Learnt to Laugh this Decade

#DecadeHop organized by #RRxMM Rashi Roy and Manas Mukul.

What is a decade? 10 years of memories strung together on one string? Here is my string of pearls…

We Indians Finally Learnt to Laugh this Decade! !Like Wordsworth, I would like to burst into poetry…but instead, let me talk about Humour in India. Did you know that on the latest UN report on the World Happiness Index India ranks a pathetic 122!

Indians Have a Funny Bone

Lo and Behold, the new age Indians… have actually located their funny bone. The new generation is truly learning to rib one another and poke fun while pulling each other’s leg. The stiff upper lip is tweaking upwards and Indians are actually laughing at the quirky customs, traditions, superstitions in the society and culture.

The crass David Dhawan humour is passé and the new humour is a blast of fresh air. The best example of the new sensation was the All India Bakchod (AIB) which got roasted by the trio of Karan Johar, Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor. The starved audience lapped it up but the powers that be banned it.

Politics at Play

Actually it is the politics! The right to speech is fundamental only in name. Do we have the freedom to criticise, mock, or lampoon public figures who persistently throw their weight around and swagger in front of the media?

Religion! Touché? Ridiculing a religion, a God, Baba or a Godman, is considered a crime. Comedy as a genre hovers around tremendously close to things around us and requires a lot of matter on religion and culture. The BOLD stand-ups are taking them on heads up but….with the threat of being locked up.

But methinks, India’s sense of humour has evolved a wee bit over the years. Stand-up comedy is a gift from the west! Albeit in its infancy, these shows have become quite popular and kids, adults and even oldies my age are appreciating and having a laugh too many.

The Gradual Evolution

In the ’80s, when I was in college there were platonic dates, in the ’90s, it went from touch to kiss. In 2000, it was do anything but keep it under wraps and in this decade it is free for all!  From puritanical to wanton PDA and in the same way stand-up comedy has become explicit with debauched jokes on real sex, virtual sex, gays or heteros.

The move towards this openness is a bit sluggish and wavering but I would say that there has been remarkable progress.

Vir Das…

Vir Das started performing when he was studying at Knox College in Western Illinois. Vir’s comedy stems from American and British stand-up traditions but his content is deep-rooted in contemporary India. He unabashedly dares and gets away with risqué and political jokes.

Stand-up comedy is not funny business but is serious business for many of the new crop of youngsters. With the growing Internet penetration, audiences are now primed for adult entertainment after years of feeding on Hollywood comics. Many Indian comics have now gone on to bag their own comedy shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime. They have emerged as seasoned comedians while taking off on satires of their own experiences, paradoxes, and defiance of being a regular Indian.

Zakir Khan; the sakht launda

One of my personal favourites is Zakir Khan, who is one of the best comic storytellers in the country.  He looks very ordinary and weaves a plebeian circle arc around his jokes. The mix of mundane but nostalgic stories about growing up, especially his college days which make up the fodder for his best comic acts. His catchphrase, “Main sakht launda hoon. Pighalta nahi hoon” sets him apart from the herd.

Youtube and easy access to the internet has made overnight stars who are now being wooed to the stage. It was these videos that introduced us Indians to stand-up comedy as an art form. The current crop of popular stand-up comedians who can make you laugh till you drop is Biswa Kalyan Rath, Kenny Sebastian, Kanan Gill, Abish Mathew, Tanmay Bhatt in the males to name a few.

Female Stand-ups

Stand-up comedy always used to be a ‘bro space’ but it is another bastion stormed by female comedians. The big names would be Aditi Mittal, Kaneez Surka, Sumukhi Suresh, Mallika Dua and my favourite Neeti Palta.  I cannot take jokes about women’s bodily functions. Period! Comedy is the right medicine for all kinds of sadness and I absolutely agree. If you want to laugh till you cry then go watch Neeti Palta’s set on Comicstaan 2!

The reality shows like Comicstaan have opened up doors to many funny youngsters launching them into a viable career.  Most cities these days have local stand-up comedy shows at lounges, pubs and private gigs.

Writing a comic script in India is easier as it can be idiosyncratic. The jokes can be cracked in one or many languages. This flexibility creates a closer bond between the comic and the audience, as they can relate more to the jokes if stated in the local vernacular language.

We Indians Finally Learnt to Laugh this Decade– Humour Has Come of Age in India

It is heartening to note that stand-up comics are now thriving in India. A bourgeoning scene brimming with numerous open mics, comedy festivals, and of course OTT deals for stand-up specials proves that India is finally laughing. Keep laughing India, as it gets rid of many ills.

Here is to real ROTF and LOL’s. May the new decade have the stand-ups indulging in more horseplay, romps in the hay rather than vaudevilles of old?  Do you agree that  We Indians Finally Learnt to Laugh this Decade

Stand-up comedy

“This post is a part of ‘DECADE Blog Hop’ #DecadeHop organised by #RRxMM Rashi Roy and Manas Mukul. The event is sponsored by Glo and co-sponsored by Beyond The BoxWedding ClapThe Colaba Store and Sanity Daily in association with authors Piyusha Vir and Richa S Mukherjee”

149 thoughts on “We Indians Finally Learnt to Laugh this Decade | #Decadehop #RRxMM”

  1. Yes you said it right, we started laughing from the last decade. I really liked you mentioned women stand up comedians here. I personally like Mallika Dua. Best wishes for this decade 🙂

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  2. We have finally come of age ! Laughing at self is the best way to realize what needs to be left behind …age old superstitions, customs which no longer carry meaning and stand up comedians have opened up our eyes.

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  3. I am a huge stand up comedy fan and have been following the Indian scene very closely. Now that you mention it, I agree with you. It’s getting noticed and appreciated like never before. Seems like, in this field India has shown progress in the past decade. Lovely post

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  4. Harjeet ji I love the way you write from your food blogs to write ups you have a unique style. Just like you even I love stand up comedy have been following AIB and Zakir Khan is my favorite. Keep posting for amateurs like me are learning a lot from you.

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  5. Yes, agreed that we Indians learned to laugh last decade and this point is being proven time and again by the increase in the number of comedy shows on the TV Channels. But honestly, can u really call that humor? I rarely watch these shows and the so-called humor makes me cringe. Sorry for being so blunt here. Once we are used to literary humor from eminent writers, this really doesn’t work with us

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    • I am sorry but u got me wrong here Suha,…I am not talking of Sitcoms or Tv humour shows like Kapil Sharma…I am talking of stand-up Comedy which is totally different. That is the point I am trying to make here. We Indians don’t know how to laugh at ourselves. We still have the stiff upper lip. Thank u for your comments but I don’t think u understand what stand up comedy is.

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  6. I could relate to your blog instantly. I follow a lot of standup comedians. Apart from all the ones you mentioned, I like Karunesh Talwar, Rohan, Jose Covaco and Daniel Fernandes. Now a crop of comedians are coming up in regional languages too. I for one am relieved that Kapil Sharma style of jokes are on the decline. Though I don’t know how the program is still so popular! Bleauh 🙁

    We must laugh at ourselves to be able to really grow.

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  7. I can totally relate to your thoughts. Its not just the millenials who are funnier and more laid back than their predecessors but as you rightly point out, look at the stand up comedy era that we are living through right now! Loved the write up.

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  8. Wow! Standup comedians have really seen a boom in past decade. However, we always had funny bones and we had popular shows like ‘ flop show’, ‘office office’ and ‘ shreeman shreemati’ to name a few classical comedy shows. It is good to know that now world has started noticing our funny side. 😂 loved reading your post.

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  9. Sense of humor improves mental and physical health, boosts attractiveness and leadership skills – this is what most of the theories say and I truly believe in it as I am a funny person and people like my company a lot. Mark Twain said that “Humor is the great thing, the saving thing after all. We all grew up with David Dhawan humour and I am not ashamed of it. I still some times catch up his films.  All India Bakchod (AIB) is something I dont understand or may be I dont want to. Abish Mathew is one person whom I have watched and I like the way he handles humour. Not again into Zakir Khan at all. I feel he is overrated.

    I agree that We Indians Finally Learnt to Laugh this Decade and I give the credit to politics. I am very politically inclined person. I love laughing over the gimmicks played by politicians.

    I dont believe when I read/hear that a person is completely humorless individual — laughing is a fundamental part of human nature and it is no way possible that a person has never laughed on any issue in his life. We as Indians need to take humour in a broad sense as people in the west do.

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    • Wow…that was a really deep and long comment on my post. David Dhawan does slapstick comedy and I am not at all a fan of those kinds of movies. I love the way these stand-ups find humour in day to day events which we don’t even notice. There are many who don’t know humour at all and live their life as some kind of penance. I pity such people.

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  10. Hey wow…First of all for having a completely different take, secondly for your superb research work and for the well balanced and perfect expression to carry this post. I loved it and I learnt a whole lot of new names that I must watch out for. And I’m going to do that. Well done!

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  11. Wow! I also binge watch stand up.comedy shows so I could relate to much of what you say. I simply drool over Kenny Sebastian, not that I don’t like the others. I very sincerely watch Comicstaan. So….yes, Indian comedy scene has come a long way, thanks to the wider reach that’s made possible. And it’s a very welcome sign I would say. Lovely post! Keep writing.

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  12. You have not mentioned a couple of my favourite stand up comedians kunal kamra and varun grover. They are two of the boldest stand up comedians in the scene. Their language may be coarse and not meant for puritans but they have the guts to take potshots at the political bigwigs without hesitation. You are absolutely correct in saying India has learned to laugh.

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  13. Its real fact of today that as grown ups we think a thousand times to laugh and I think is side effect of growing up. As you said it is natural cure Indians must laugh and continue to do without a second thought.

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  14. For me, Comedy and humour mean Kapil Sharma whose show I enjoy on every weekend! Your take on humour is telling me to update my knowledge. Great one Harjeet Ji! Very unique take I totally enjoyed it and learnt some names in the humour zone.

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  15. You are so right. We Indians finally learnt to laugh this decade. Stand up comedians have really become popular and my all-time favorite is Vir Das, though I like most of the ones mentioned by you. Hoping the next decade brings in more laughs and we do get some freedom of speech which is lacking in our country. Loved your post 🙂

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  16. You’re right Harjeet. Stand ups have burst in on the Indian scene this last decade like never before.
    Does go to show that we Indians have finally learnt to laugh at ourselves.
    Personally I love Amit Tandon’s shows. His jokes are family oriented you see! 😊

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  17. I agree. We Indians learned to laugh last decade, and sometimes we laughed at things that weren’t even funny.
    Sometimes we laughed st the humour, at other times at the helplessness of the situations we were in. I guess humour is a flavour that makes nasty things a little more palatable.
    And so we laugh…

    To add to your list, another outstanding comedian (although his comedy is always a little more dark…a little more real than the others) is Kunaal Kamra.

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  18. Agree – this was the decade when ‘being a comedian’ started being somewhat of an acceptable career choice. But I think India still has a long way to go – we need to be more open!

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  19. True, standup comedy is coming up in a big way in India. I loved the way you brought it out. Most of the names are my fav too specially Zakir. Loved every bit of it..

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  20. Totally agree with you! Indians who used to laugh behind the doors, are now open to criticism/humour. I enjoy stand-up by Vir Das and Zakir Khan:)
    Loved reading your post ❤️

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  21. wow.. i thought it would be about some mouth-watering savory..but this is such a fresh perspective. U made me realize that the stand up has become popular in the last decade only…because earlier it was limited to movers and shakers only.. that’s the maximum my memory dates back to. I loved AIB for their brutally true and humorous takes on everything around. keep writing..

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  22. Such an interesting perspective…It was an enjoyable read which made me recall so many comic moments..Thank you for such a joyful post…

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  23. So true. Finally, we Indians have learned to laugh…. without fear. Although I do miss the hasya kavi sammelans of yore. They had a rustic charm to it with a generous dose of “vyang”.

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    • Thank u so much Damayanti. That is so sweet of you. Yes, laughter is a great way to deal with life especially the adversities and I have had more than my share of them. I try to be as positive as I can in the circumstances by smiling and spreading smiles.

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  24. I consider myself to be too tightly wound as well having a very distinct sense of humor and I loved reading the piece though I am not much impressed with the breed of stand ups who have no jokes to crack beyond sex life (of him, her or the entire nation) and generation gap.

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  25. I have binge watched comedy shows on amazon prime long back . This post of yours reminded me about show . Oh I love Zahir Khan too

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  26. Wow this is an interesting perspective of the last decade. I was a big fan of laughter shows on Tv in the initial years. But somewhere I lost the interest because it felt forced . I liked Kapil Sharma and Zakir khan !!

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  27. Wow, that’s a stand up take on the Decade hop. Loved your view how in the last 10 years Indians learnt the better way to laugh out loud. Instead of giggles, we are now enjoying a laugh together and so true the stand up shows that are in market today are worth a watch. And I really say a big thank you to all comedians even I will include Kapil Sharma, Rohan Joshi, Ahsan Qureshi who have made us laugh. They help us make our moods lighter after a hectic day. But I still miss the “char lina” and kavi sammelan more. As they had a literary touch to them. Lovely post harjeet.

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    • Thanks for your insights Pragun. I steer clear of kapil Sharma. My take was on stand-ups and open mics direct interaction with the audience in live shows. The kavi sammelans were a class apart. We shud get them back.

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      • Instead of leaving a fresh comment, would like to add to the reply here. I so agree with you and your title that Indians finally learned to laugh. I agree with Pragun on her thoughts on HASYA KAVI SAMMELAN to be precise but they were more of literary art.
        This post is clearly on the standups and open mics which is more casual or say informal.
        if one has followed the global trend when it comes to standup comedies or open mics, one can easily conclude that we were far behind lagging in this field. It is this trend that has grown stable in our country and more and more people are coming forward. And I love them and feel proud seeing the popularity they are gaining on international platform as well.
        Zakhir Khan is my personal favourite too 😀

        Awesome Post Harjeet!!

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  28. I m feeling like an alien who doesn’t know much about comedy or comicstan except one comedian jeeveshu whom I have loved whenever I have listened . It’s not that we have learnt to laugh only in this decade , yes that’s true that comedy has emerged as a new field – veg and non- veg version too.

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  29. No doubt about it, i remember i watched the AIB roasting show when no one was at home and laughed freely. I have gobbled up both the seasons of comicstaan and they are out standing. We find out new standups on YouTube and enjoy watching them every night. It is indeed a new profession which came into existence in last decade only.

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  30. Harjeetji, this was a real picture of the past decade.
    You nailed it in your words and am in love with your style of writing.
    This was something different and much needed one.

    Thank you for showing the humor side.

    I would love to read more…

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  31. Absolutely true…undoubtedly Humor added more tadka to our life over a decade gone by, I believe comedy and standup comedy both are completely different, and measured on different skill scale, bar of standup comedy raised to next level only because of evolution of you tube channels and that’s really amazing to watch, I am so happy to found one more fan of AIB knock out just like me, very Well written post Harjeet ji best wishes!

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  32. True Shows such as Comicstan and Platforms such as Habitat adn the Comedy Club have given a stage to Comedy. A new generation of Humour, which is actually more intelligent than ever.

    Most important, Humour is now a profession, which it wasn’t until the previous decade..Loved your take on the same.

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  33. I have been hooked to stand up comedies ever since I discovered them on YouTube few years ago. Rahul Subramaniam, Rahul Dua, Anirban Dasgupta are some of my favourites. The AIB roast was a never before done thing in India for sure!

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  34. While I agree with you that this decade has seen some tectonic shift in the way public humour has improved, I would submit that subtle classy humour as evidenced in Hrishikesh Mukherjee movies is no longer seen.

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  35. Oh I absolutely loved this so much! Humor is the best, when it’s directed at one’s own self. When I visit new places, I always gravitate towards the self deprecating folk, who know and embrace their silliness.
    I’m glad that India is becoming more tolerant of poking fun at her glorious idiosyncrasies. And I’m gladder to have found you! I popped on over to your ABOUT page and your story made me smile. Love and here’s to more KAUR magic!!

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  36. Yup – we Indians do have stiff upper lip that rarely curves… 🙂 I used to watch Seinfeld etc in the West and wonder why we don’t have anybody like that in India…Cheers to Indian comedy coming of age!! 🙂

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  37. What a lovely post!! You are absolutely right with stand-ups, the comedy has been seriously taken as a career by the young gen. I loved the unique style of your writing. This post was as good as to be published in any leading newspaper.

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  38. You have mentioned many names and Sumukhi is one of my favorite ones too. But, in few occurences, the humor was lost and it became more of a taunt. All things aside, YouTube and Amazon have certainly made laughs more common.

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  39. First thing… Loved the image on the post.
    Stand up comedy is something I love, it is my watch every evening after work before I put on my apron. All the people you have mentioned are my companions every evening… topping the list is Sakth Launda. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and yes, Indians have learnt to laugh and add a humourous tinge to everything. Minutes after an event there are memes on insta about it!

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  40. Wow it is really exciting to read your post on decade theme. I completely agree that stand up comedy had taken a huge high during last decade and indeed internet has played a big role in it. zakir hussain is my favouite too. I really like his presentation style.

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  41. Until last decade comedy for Indians used to be old formula of a quick insert of scenes in movies or series like office-office or Flop show. And then there was indeed a swift change in scenario with standup comedy and the fresh crop isn’t shy to have take over things happening around.
    Harjeet ji, your pot was thoroughly researched and well balanced. I enjoyed reading your post.

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  42. You have highlighted a fresh and interesting aspect of the past decade. You are so right – stand up comedians gained popularity in India only now. You have listed some of my favourites here. Enjoyed reading your write up!

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  43. I agree that we have learnt to laugh at ourselves. I feel that earlier it did happen but in a different format with close friends and family now people are more open about it. A personal acquaintance who was very good at stand-up gave up his flourishing career for his passion, I am glad about the change.

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  44. I’m sad my previous comment didn’t show up.

    Anyway, back here to reiterate that I loved this post. You’ve highlighted the raw power of humor and I’m hoping the ability to laugh at ourselves is never forgotten!

    Much love!

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  45. You are absolutely right. Stand up comedy has actually found the right grounds in India in the last decade. Although i’ll be honest, i not really watch many of those as at time the BOLD sarcasm and jokes aren’t my liking but a few of them are so good.

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  46. Very interesting take on the prompt, Harjeet. Well, I partially agree to the point that we learned to laugh this decade because though the number of comedy shows has increased but the quality is not worth watching. But again to each his /her own. There are a few shows/stand-ups, especially that are really good 🙂 A well-resaerched post as I learned many new names 🙂

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  47. What a unique perspective to the Decade Hop. I salute you Harjeet ji for being so full of life and being an inspiration for morons like me. I really need to call you sometime and get some life lessons.

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    • You are most welcome Anu..I am inspired by all you young girls. You are such go-getters. I am such a weakling. I try to keep myself pepped up. You can call me any time my dear. That is what I miss the most. Real interaction with people. Loneliness kills the spirit.

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  48. A refreshingly different post among the sea of personal journeys. In India, humour has been always serious business. Sometimes leading to violence. You have captured the dramatic change in the scenario in a nutshell. A great achievement! – Rohit Verma

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    • Thank u so much Rohit. That was exactly the intent of choosing this topic. Even my cup of woes is overflowing but I didnt want to share that here and wanted to spread some smiles. Thank u so much.

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  49. Though it was difficult for me to understand your vocabulary, I definitely agree with you on the point that we Indians learnt a lot in terms of laughing. I actually came across my decade of laughter as I started getting the hang of it and was able to recollect the aspects that you portrayed.
    –rightpurchasing

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  50. Lovely topic to choose and a brilliant write up chronicling the stand up comedy journey of India. We do have some amazing comics who make us forget all our worries. I’m particularly biased towards Atul Khatri.

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    • Thank u so much Zenobia….the intent behind the topic was to lighten up the serious accounts of everyone’s decade journey. My cup of life too is overflowing with woes but then I decided to bring some well-needed humour in. I missed out on Atul!!

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  51. Such a refreshingly different take on the prompt. Though Indians have learnt to laugh a little more, I feel we still take ourselves too seriously. Thanks for the recommendations though- I will definitely be checking some of the newer names out.

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  52. Oh yes, I agree with you, we Indians are finally learning to take things lightly and that graph of change can be seen clearly through the last decade. Even though I don’t watch a lot of stand up comedy but I’ve definitely heard a few famous names in the field of laughter and they surely are making us proud especially the women comedians who are coming out and fearlessly showcasing their talent. Lovely & interesting write-up, Harjeet!

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  53. My God, such a different post. First of all, I love Kenny. I can die listening to him. He really has that innocence and yet a strong power to make ppl go mad. Stand up comedy is finally in every cup and we Indians are really appreciating even every new comer. I also remember Laugher challenge which gave us Raju Srivastav and Siddhu pa ji’s style of “thoko Tali..” Enjoyed reading this post 😂

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  54. You are absolutely right Harjeet ji…Every Indian has a funny bone its just that we are too shy to explore that side…leave alone making a career out of it. India’s comedy circuit did witness a great leap. Hopefully it continues to grow from here.
    btw A Very Happy Birthday to you.
    #DecadeHop #RRxMM

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  55. That was a surprise post! I thought our very own super chef would come up with a food post but this was a refreshing one. True, it’s really hard to laugh at yourselves and these stand-up comedians are doing a great work, though their hardwork is not always appreciated. I personally switch to these shows whenever I get time. They never dissapoint. Glad you chose to write on something different. So happy to have you on board.

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