Desi Comedians Don’t Do Yo Mama! Jokes

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.

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sepoy

what is the vertiginous chapati saying to me?

6 thoughts on “Desi Comedians Don’t Do Yo Mama! Jokes”

  1. hey! i’m the guy from Cincinnati, “which sucks for him.” ha ha! thanks for the email exchange and for encouraging me to post. = )

    you make a very good observation about family jokes. my theory as to why you don’t see more is that most of the videos we comics post are filmed in comedy clubs, where the crowds are generally 90% white.

    not to totally self-promote but rather to make my point… i do cover some desi family topics in this video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=OBtzk0PypU4

    about 30 of the 75 minutes i do for private gigs tends to be desi/indian material (family trips, mandir, taking off your shoes, saying the long good-bye at parties after the men & women sit in different rooms and the kids play in the basement).

    anyway, that’s my 2 rupees.

    feel free to hit me up to discuss further!

  2. “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.”

    I think because these desis’ audience(s) are not entirely desi…actually most of them are white. How would a non-desi audience know about who and what “sardarjis” are unless it is explained to them? It’s difficult to translate jokes from one language, community, and humor to another.

    But Lapata is right, Russell Peters definately makes jokes about families. Like how desi fathers all beat their kids, while the white ones don’t. And how his parents are always trying to find him a suitable spouse.

    “The only people who can laugh at themselves in homistans are the Sikhs [Punjabis in general – maybe].”

    Oi, oi, what’s this Punjabi-centrism? :)Gujaratis can laugh at themselves, too:

    http://mrpatelrap.ytmnd.com/

    This website floods my heart with pride and joy. I get choked up whenever I listen to this rap.

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