At the Mic Drop finale, everyone made sex jokes but not everyone was laughing
- The show pledged to be different but it was really more of the same--sex and sexist jokes
Mar 11, 2019-
The moment Aayush Shrestha comes up to the mic, before he’s even said a single word, the audience erupts in a cheer. Watching Shrestha, one of Kathmandu’s most popular stand-up comedians, on stage, I finally got to know just how he makes people laugh. Shrestha, who was master of ceremonies at Sunday’s VMAG Mic Drop, a stand-up comedy show, was unfortunately among the few elements of hilarity in a show that was more often cringe-worthy.
But let’s begin at the beginning. The event was supposed to start at 6.30 at M&S Building in Pulchowk, but I should’ve expected that things wouldn’t go as expected. Waiting for the event to start was like waiting for the final season of Game of Thrones to begin. I was repeatedly told that the programme would begin in 15 minutes but 15 minutes turned into an hour. By the time 7.30 came around, my enthusiasm had waned. The organisers excused themselves, blaming “technical glitches”, but all was forgiven once the self proclaimed “attention-whore” Aayush Shrestha came up on stage. Shrestha managed to make us forget the delay with his short intro, but Alan Jung Thapa, the first comedian up, made me regret sticking around despite the hour-long delay.
This was the final episode of Mic Drop’s first season, with six participants--Shraddha Verma, Mayur Goyal, Alan Jung Thapa, Pranesh Gautam, Bishal Gautam and Sajjan Shrestha. Nineteen-year-old Thapa was first up and everyone looked excited. However, his jokes about sex, being middle-class and a porn enthusiast were mundane, like something any other comedian might have come up with a thousand times before. Honestly speaking, I zoned out during his set and at a comedy show, boredom is anathema. Thapa’s gag about pursuing law all his life was absurdly inane--“Eh law, eh law bhanda bhandai maa law ma pugyo.”
Mayur Goyal was next and he came with a disclaimer--Shrestha introduced him as being massively offensive. Goyal looked like a serious man who might not even crack a smile, but his jokes cracked up the audience. His jokes about how beauty pageants had become a gateway for contestants to get into social service and his antics concerning Indian actors Salman Khan and Abhishek Bachchan invited loud cheers. Goyal might have been vulgar at times, but the disclaimer did him a disservice--he wasn’t half as offensive as he was made out to be.
I was definitely happy to see Shraddha Verma, the only woman, come up after Goyal. Verma, a social worker, fired up the stage and although the audience continued to laugh at her gags, I believe many didn’t realise the hidden meanings. Verma’s period jokes and ‘all you need is love and a little bit of blood’ sounded a bit off, when she thought the tagline for a Valentine’s day blood donation drive was about period sex. But she made it up. However, her jokes seemed to drag for the 15-minute set.
“Malai mann parne gori chittika pareko ko keti, tara malai mann paraune kali ghin lagdo keti.” With this line alone, Pranesh Gautam lost me. It wasn’t funny and it wasn’t smart. I’m not one to ask for political correctness from a comic but if you’re going to be offensive, the least you can do is be funny. “Keti haru Facebook ra Instagram ma esto ramri dekhchan, bhete pachi malai dai bhan bhanna mann lagi halcha,” another brilliant line. In case it wasn’t obvious, that was sarcastic.
Next up, Bishal Gautam made me laugh. He made everyone laugh. But is stand-up comedy only about dirty sex jokes? I don’t think anybody from the audience will forget his lines comparing abusive words in English and Nepali. “Penis sophisticated sound garcha tara Nepali ma penis lai kina tunturi bhanincha,” he asked. People laughed and I laughed too. Not because it was particularly funny but it was just amusing to hear such things said out loud on a public platform. However, his school memories did invite an air of nostalgia in us. “Hamro time ma porn haina, blue film bhaninthyo,” I enjoyed that one.
With every comedian getting 15 minutes, the sets seemed to drag on in most cases. However, I believe the organisers saved the best for the last. Artist Sajjan Shrestha came on like a breath of fresh air. His jokes were nothing but smooth. For a change, there was nothing regarding sex or curse words. He talked about smoking and as a smoker myself, I could relate to his problems. “Smoking le cancer lagcha tara aama cancer bhanda kum darrlagdo hudainan,” Sajjan’s quirky style made the jokes relevant, funny and indeed, rib-tickling.
While Mic Drop isn’t the first stand-up comedy show, Prajjwol Bhattarai, assistant marketing manager for M&S VMAG, said that they were different, because “we are focused on the audience, not on video, and we respect and pay our comedians what they deserve.” This might have been true, but I still felt that almost all of the comedians joked about sex. While some made it sound natural, others were clearly forced. So there was little that was different. Most of the comedy shows I’ve been to end up devolving into sex anyway.
When asked with why comedians always resort to sex jokes on stage, Aadarsh Mishra, founder of Meme Nepal and co-organiser of the event, was quick to reply, “People jump to conclusions easily. For the longest time, sex was a taboo and a stage like ours has given comedians a platform to speak about things that are only talked about behind closed doors.”
“Shraddha very eloquently joked about sex and periods, passing on a strong social message,” Mishra defended his comedians’ choice of subject matter.
But even one of the participants seemed to have had it with sex jokes. “I started with sex jokes but I wanted to be visible in the industry, so I needed to go a different way,” said Sajjan Shrestha, the only one who didn’t do a single sex joke. “They can be fun if delivered with good punchlines but stand-up comedy can’t be about sex jokes all the time.”
Shraddha Verma, the only woman participant, didn’t really seem to mind. “I can stand sex jokes but I cannot stand sexist jokes,” she said.
The show began late and ended late. It was past 9 when I walked out. I’d say the show was nothing different--just more of the same. I can’t speak for the pay disparity as I’m not a stand-up comedy artist but these artists really need to come up with smarter, more innovative takes, even if it is dirty sex jokes. But hey, at least they had free food and drinks.
Published: 12-03-2019 07:00