The second week of the year has yanked us all back to reality, with the repeating themes of a possible lockdown, surging Covid cases, the cricket team losing in South Africa, and open calls for genocide. Feels like we’ve seen this movie before, doesn’t it?
At least we’ve got new and exciting developments on the comedy front. In In this week’s roundup, we have Sahil Shah’s crowdwork video/PSA about the perils of having a shared phone gallery and Vijay Yadav’s breakdown of India’s first superhero, ‘Shaktimaan’. Inder Sahani finds a silver lining in the two-year-old cloud we’ve been living under, Chris Distefano reminisces about (almost) getting expelled from school, and Aditi Mittal talking about Indian shopping habits.
1. Sahil Shah – BDSM IN THE CROWD?
In this crowdwork snippet released on Sahil Shah’s birthday, the comedian riffs on familiar tropes about engineering students and his father’s life as a urologist, before being tripped up by three fairly obscure names in quick succession. Shah is quick on his toes though, and his improvised punchlines barely miss a beat. This video serves as a great reminder of the comedian’s well-honed comedy muscles, with a couple of clever call-backs and all the ‘Shahisms’ he’s come up with during his decade-long career.
2. Inder Sahani – Mummy, Motapa Aur Maut Ka Kuan
Inder Sahani’s first video of the year (and 21st on his channel) is a great showcase of his charismatic stage presence. He gently calls out a front-row audience member for putting his feet up on the stage before segueing into a bit about the entitlement of certain comedy fans. That leads into a joke about the positives of the COVID-19 lockdown: a slimmer physique. Which, it turns out, comes with its own downsides.
A fantastic eight minutes of storytelling that will leave you feeling guilty about that dumbbell tucked away in your cupboard.
3. Vijay Yadav – Shaktimaan
This punchline-packed 17-minute video is the longest clip on the list, and the 21st on Vijay Yadav’s YouTube channel. Shot at the Laugh Club in Chandigarh, Yadav digs into inter-generational antagonism with anecdotes about the sarcasm and tendency to give gyaan that often makes us irritable with our elders.
He then shifts gears to talk about the casual sadism of school sports teachers who invented events like the three-legged race just to see kids stumble their way around a race track. But the centre-piece of the video is Yadav’s childhood obsession with 90s pop culture idol Shaktimaan, which he now attributes to Shaktimaan’s quintessential desi-ness.
4. Aditi Mittal Live: Online Shopping
Aditi Mittal has just released the sixth episode of her Amazon miniTV series Aditi Mittal Live, and it’s a doozy. The episode focuses on the Indian online shopping experience (obviously), with its ups, downs, and small frustrations. Mittal talks about the annoyance of shopping sites sorting by “relevance”, when the one thing most relevant to Indian shoppers is the price. She also shares a hilarious story of being cast as a mouse for a Ganpati pandal, where she had to bear the brunt of costume budget cuts: a perfect analogy for our habit of prioritising lower costs over quality.
The ten minutes will just fly by, but you may catch yourself purging your wish-list after.
5. How Chris Distefano Almost Got Expelled from Catholic School
Comedy Central just put up this six-minute-clip from Di Stefano’s 2019 TV special Chris Distefano: Size 38 Waist, which features the American comedian in masterful story-telling flow. He talks about how his father was always incredibly supportive, even when he was in the wrong, like the time he almost got expelled from school for hitting a classmate with a chair. That led to a tense confrontation between the principal and his occasionally less-than-lawful father.
It’s a funny story, but the comedian also acknowledges the emotional trauma of his upbringing, joking that he’s only in comedy because his therapist kept laughing as he unloaded. But despite the occasionally embarrassing jokes at Distefano senior’s expense, it’s also obvious that there’s love there.