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Indian standup comedians: Is Indian Stand-up comedy scene encouraging profanity and abusive language

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

Standup comedy in India is still a very new concept for the mainstream Indian audience. With the rapid rise of internet penetration and shifting of a large number of television audiences to the OTT platforms and other digital streaming platforms like youtube and Instagram, stand-up comedians in India are now getting an audience for their shows offline and online. Though a major portion of their audience is from the metro cities of the country, through the digital mediums, Indian stand-up comedians especially the Hindi stand-up comedians of the country are becoming very popular among the millennials of tier 2 and tier 3 cities of the country.

Comedy shows are not exactly a very new thing in India. Johnny lever, Raju Srivastav, Kapil Sharma are some of the most celebrated comedians in India. However, earlier comedy acts were more of fictional stories or some imaginary scenes performed in a funny way in front of a large group audience.

The modern stand-up comedy acts are more into sharing one's life experiences, personal stories, and opinions or thoughts in a humorous way in front of a group of audiences mostly consisting of millennials. The introduction of standup comedy shows into the performing art scene of the country has given an opportunity to the modern millennials of the country to explore their hidden talents in comedy. Many online streaming platforms host shows featuring the new-age Indian standup comedians. A large number of modern office-going millennials want to try their luck in the stand-up comedy scene of the country. Indian stand-up comedians are turning into modern offbeat celebrities among the millennials.

Abhishek Upmanyu

Profanity and abusive language in the Indian stand up comedy landscape:

Stand-up comedy culture is not a very familiar concept for the Indian audience and even for the mainstream comedians of the country. The positive side of this is the flexibility of the new-age comedians of the country to try different styles, different topics, and even experimenting with sensible, religious, and controversial topics. India being a vibrant democracy is a home of various religious groups, different language-speaking people, different races. Some of the Stand-up comedians in India had to face a lot of criticisms in recent years because of their contents based on some religious events, beliefs, and races. Recently Agrima Joshua, a stand-up comedian from Lucknow has faced a lot of criticisms because of her remarks on Shivaji Maharaj. These are just a few incidences where a comedian was brought into controversy because of his/her content. However, the usages of slang are very common now and nobody seems to have any problem with it.

Stand-up comedy in India is all about storytelling and it's very normal to use some abusive or cuss words in front of an adult grown-up audience to make it feel more realistic. 

Some of the famous stand-up comedians in India :

1. Anubhav Singh Bassi: A lawyer turned comedian, Anubhav Singh Bassi came into the limelight as one of his stand-up acts “Cheating” got viral a year back. His youtube channel has 1.86 million subscribers at present with 3 uploads on his channel. A unique realistic style of storytelling is the USP of his acts.

Anubhav Singh Bassi
Source: YouTube

2. Abhishek Upmanyu: This Delhi-based engineer turned comedian became popular as his video on youtube “Indian insults and comebacks” went viral in 2016. Two of his famous comedy shows “Thoda saaf bol” and “Jealous of sabjiwala” managed to gain immense popularity back in 2016. His youtube channel has more than 2.8 million subscribers with 12 videos on the channel.

Abhishek Upmanyu

3. Zakir Khan: The biggest name in the Indian stand up comedy scene, Zakir khan became very popular with one of his stand up shows “On Air With AIB”. Two of his very famous standup shows “kakshya gyarvi” and “Haq Se Single” are live on amazon prime.

Zakir Khan

4. Biswa Kalyan Rath: An IITian himself, Biswa Kalyan Rath became viral as his original stand-up comedy act “Biswa Mast Aadmi” became very popular on Amazon prime. He is one of the few Indian comedians to have an original stand up comedy show on Amazon prime.

Biswa Kalyan Rath

Conclusion: More Indian millennials are now interested in trying their luck in stand-up comedy in India. The future is very promising for the stand-up scene in the country as more shows are coming up in the stand-up circuit both online and offline.

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