I am late to this game and let me first give you the verdict - I am offended!
But, pray, read on.
I have been observing social media (at least the Indian side of it) going crazy about this AIB Roast and censors and free speech. I just considered this to be yet another arm chair upheaval about 'Indian Values' versus the newly in fashion 'Freedom of Speech' and didn’t care to get the details. But since the discussions kept going on and since I had recently expressed myself in the issue of a Tamil writer crucified for his novels, I decided to at least understand what was happening.
I am not familiar with the comedy circuit in India but for Evam, in which a friend of mine is a performer. So I was curious to hear that a US style roast happened and wanted to see it. A helpful friend of mine passed on a youtube link to an edited version of the roast. If you have not seen it, here is the video but then dont blame me for that lost bit of your life.
(Thankfully the video is removed. You still have those 60 minutes for yourself.)
I watched it and I was offended! And I was offended by the comic value of the content. This was not a roast. This was a juvenile. stereotypical, bland, lacklustre performance. There was a host, there were a bunch of ‘panelists’ and there were two guys who were to be roasted. What followed was a disaster. Every one of the panelist would walk to the mike, say something about the host, the fellow panelists and the roastees (yeah, I made up that word). And every single one spoke as if their lines were written by the same guy. There was one about a fat guy, one about a black guy, one about a guy being virginal (seriously, what was that shit about anyways?), the host being a closet gay and about dud acting and sexual escapades of the roastees. Every single one of them followed this pattern. And the lines were not even remotely funny. Dropping F bombs of different calibers is not roasting. Come on guys, this isn’t high school!
And that was what was offensive about it. Not because it did not conform to Indian values, not because it disrespected anyone but because it was bad, it was full of stereotypical lines and it was seriously unfunny. After seeing this I had to see a couple of US Presidents being roasted in the Annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner to remind myself what roasting meant. (If you haven’t seen any, do google and watch a few, they are well worth your time!) And I did fume about it to my friends and another friend of mine then sent a link to this video.
The length of it almost made me not watch it. But I am glad I watched it because it gave an insight into what is the current situation in India and what is changing and what is not. Most of the guys featured were part of the Roast and from the excerpts that form part of the video I can see that their regular fare is far better than what they peddled in the Roast. Although I dont agree to all the views that are expressed, this balanced my original thoughts by showing the other side. If you have a couple of hours to share, this is a good video to watch.
Finally, to those who are opposing this Roast, “Guys, Grow up and go get a Life”. This was a paid show, this is a Roast, this is what you should expect. If you didn’t know that, you know it now. No one is forcing you to watch. No one is foisting this on you. If you want to exercise your right to oppose something, there are enough things happening around you. Oppose the violent attacks on women and men, Oppose the lack of civic sense your fellow men have, Oppose the lack of infrastructure and support you would expect your government to provide, Oppose the rabid corruption, Oppose the stupid politicians who force unneeded elections and waste public money, Oppose the injustice that is meted out to the less fortunate. If you are done with all of those, join me in standing up against people who protest inconsequential things. But leave these poor guys alone, being stand up comedians in India is enough punishment for them.