Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Do I self-censor myself?

(Photography by Evan Murphy)

Do i self-censor myself? Sometimes. I am guilty of that. I live in a country like Singapore where i am forced to cater to groups of people from different ethnicities. Does that stop me from pointing out the cultural differences that i happen to notice? Nope. It doesn't. There is a fine line between making fun and simply pointing out our cultural differences. Then there are the audience members who say - "I am into smart comedy..you know? Intelligent jokes? You know not about race? Witty humor?"
I always laugh at such comments. Mr Bean has been making billions of people laugh with his physical humor..sometimes knocking himself down and sometimes getting himself involved in the most awkward situations ever. We burst out laughing at those "Just for gags" tv programs where people are punked into believing certain situations. We all laugh at those jokes. What is witty, intelligent , smart humor anyway? If you are making a room full of people laugh..its simple..you are funny. Stand-up comedy is all about personal experiences and often as comics we start off stating the cultural differences between different races that are obvious to us. And yet..you hear these statements. Smart humor might make you want to "think" but people watch stand-up for different reasons. Some want to hear your funny stories, some don't want to think at all and some want to be challenged. To those who want to feel mentally challenged..all i want to say is - there are other options..like for example Sudoko or a maths class. That's what i think. At least that's what i laugh at. Simple observations. We all get better as writers. The more we perform and watch other comedians..our writing gets better. Stage time is key here. You can't trade off stage time with anything. We jump up on stage and find new things every time we do. Sometimes we don't find anything. We get bored with our own jokes and then crack our heads to write something that means something to us but we try to take a different approach. 1000 ways to look at one subject. It isn't easy! I can tell you that! Having said that, if you love the art of stand-up..the writing process is such an exciting journey. From the writing pad to the mic - the joke evolves. Some jokes are funnier when written as a status update but the moment you say it out..it loses its charm. 
The one thing i am scared of is though  is self-censoring myself. I might have started doing that in the fear of hurting people. I need to get out of that bubble. Someone is bound to get hurt..i find my personal experiences painful but hilarious. When i am over the pain, i will be able to pick up the pen and write about the absurdity of it all. I am in process of doing that. In the middle of it all, i break down and then i continue writing till i start humoring myself. If you look close enough, every funny story has shades of tragedy in it. Nope, i am not depressed about anything. I am just trying to awaken those numbed areas of my experiences that i never wished to acknowledge. That process requires some shaking and waking up! You know how you sleep on your hand and then wake up feeling like its dead and then you frantically rub it into life again! Yup, that one. Awakening in process.
See you at the next comedy show.

Warmest regards,

Sharul Channa