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What's the dark side of humour?

The fiercest feedback on my articles has been that they tend to be dense. And what do you know, I agree! I’d say that it’s tough to write a condensed post on topics that demand a conversation. And yet, Hemingway would disagree.

So, with this post, I’ve cut down the fluff and rammed the point across, plain and simple. Why THIS post? Because I’d like to spend the least amount of words on a topic that I thoroughly despise.

Humour comes in all forms, ‘dark’ by itself being a category. But, the dark side that I allude to is the fallout from excessive use of humour itself. Like too many heads spoil the broth, too much humour does dilute a message.

Could Dr King have moved the masses, had he cracked a joke after ‘I have a dream’? Could the Gettysburg address have carried the same gravitas, had Lincoln begun with a knock-knock joke? I sincerely hope not or else, we are officially ratifying the humour bombs that Rahul Gandhi throws every now and then!

But not only political speeches lose their seriousness with humour. Sensitive issues too need composure to cause a stir.

Imagine inaugurating a gender-equality symposium at the hands of our good friend Mr Trump. Sends shivers down your spine, no?

One could argue that humour helps open a dialogue where uncomfortable questions end them. That’s not entirely wrong! There’s a reason why female comedians are on the rise. There’s a reason why topical comedy is trending. It’s because humour opens up ‘taboo’ topics to a broader audience that had signed them off before today. Everyone laughs at jokes, but you can always slide a fact midway and hear the pin drop.

If you’ve watched ‘Vir Das For India’, then you know what I mean. Damn, I want tea in a kulhad now!

But if you don’t handle topical humour with equal care, it becomes offensive in a way that does more harm than good. A wrongly delivered sketch can trivialize real-life issues, marginalize victims, and start a culture, a very wrong one at that.

The writers of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. did just that, at the expense of poor Ross, all in good taste! Disappoints me even today, because I love the show otherwise!

However, the final coat of black for humour is ‘escapism’. Are we encouraging the use of humour as a defensive way to have difficult conversations? No… you’re kidding!

What if parents start disciplining their kids in the same fashion? Hey, son! Good to see you indulging in drugs mate! It’d surely be dope to be the first-ever father to mooch off his son’s insurance! Get that? DOPE!

Did you cringe yet? I hope so.

Because that’s the darkest that humour can get, without introducing murder in the mix. And if you’d like to experience the latter, here you go –

Knock knock. Who’s there? The guy. The guy who? The guy who butchered this joke, and will probably kill the ending too.

And God said, let there be light.

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