At a dinner table, recently, I asserted that ‘family’ was largely absent from the routines of desi comedians. Their comedy was largely set in the habermasian realm of the public [yes that is a joke. of course, I would never say anything like 'habermasian realm'. ever]. You get lots of material about interactions with the pre-dominant caucasian society, prejudices, life after 9/11 etc. But no sa’as-bahoo jokes. No Auntie Ji jokes. Nothing even about mothers and grandmothers. And definitely no Sardar Ji jokes. Why is that? I wondered. I don’t really know the answer nor am I sure that my assertion is even correct.
So, I compiled a list of desi comedians that I am somewhat familiar with – along with some links to their youtube etc. routines. Maybe you folks can help sort it all out.
- Tinku Patel & Azhar Usman. I was in a security checkout line at O’Hare with Azhar Usman. Fun.
- Rajiv Satyal. I really don’t know much about him besides that he is from around Cincinnati. Which sucks for him. Trust me, I know.
- Hari K. Kondabolu. The tips for brown people is predictable but funny. Also see his blog entry on being a desi comic.
- Aziz Ansari. Ok. I love Aziz Ansari but, the only thing desi about his comedy is … him. Nothing wrong with that and nothing funnier than Clell Tickle: Indie Marketing Guru.
- Aladdin Ullah. I couldn’t find any links to his stand-up.
- Some more random ones.
- Daniel Nainan. Now he does tackle family. But is that because he is taking his cue from Margaret Cho, Eliot Chang and other Asian-American comedians?
Also, asserted at that dinner table: The only people who can laugh at themselves in homistans are the Sikhs [Punjabis in general - maybe].
Feel free to take up either assertion.