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[Decade of Comedy] A Toast To Standup in India

By Rohan Joshi 23 January 2021

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How does one summarise a decade of an art form in words? Especially a decade so fundamental and transformative? You miss your first six deadlines and then panic shit it out one evening. That’s how. But this is not the sort of decade that lends itself to summary. It was… a lot. It’s like asking someone to “summarise 2020”. How many paragraphs does the coronavirus get? What about Kobe? Does the Beirut blast get a full look-in or a line or two? What about those ash-covered koalas from January? Hey remember CAA-NRC? That’s the sort of decade it’s been. But here’s to it anyway.

Here’s to an industry that once fit in a single Whatsapp group. And this is back when it was limited to 64 people.

Here’s to a decade that had a top ten comedians list when there were twelve working.

Here’s to Tuesday night shows at restaurants where the only good thing about the venue was that the owner said yes. So what if he then forgot to put up the poster for the show, so you yelled your best jokes over the sound of 15 people singing Happy Birthday to their friend?

Here’s to the shows that were cancelled on the day because only three people bought tickets.

And here’s to the ones that were cancelled because you forgot it was a dry day.

Here’s to comedy producers and programmers who built venues out of nothing by taking wild chances on formats and open micers and just trusting in the idea that if they built it, people would come.

Here’s to venue owners who have seen property destroyed, cases filed and money lost just because they gave someone the space to tell a joke.

Here’s to that corporate HR person who thought “comedy will be a good fit for our award night.” We’re sorry it wasn’t.

Here’s to managers and promoters and all the people that look at Excel sheets and Form 16s so you don’t have to.

And fine, here’s to that guy who booked you on the 5 a.m. flight when he really could have picked the 11 a.m. one.

Here’s to that time an audience member stayed back just to tell you they loved you.

And here’s to that time you had to stand there while they said it to someone else.

Here’s to that punchline you really loved, but had to abandon because nobody else did.

Here’s to all those jokes that will die in the Notes section of your phone because you forgot about them, or because you have NO idea what “doodoo stoned” means the next morning.

Here’s to that video you really thought would do better.

Here’s to that little stab in your heart every time someone else on a line-up killed harder than you did, or cracked a premise open better than you ever could.

But here’s another to that night it all went perfectly, when you flowed like water and could have picked up Mjolnir if asked.

Here’s to that night you wanted to quit because it was so so so bad.

And here’s to the morning you didn’t.

This is the first in a series of guest columns by comedians as part of our #ADecadeOfComedy coverage.

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