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Move over political comedy, Danish Sait’s lockdown humour pokes fun at middle-class Indians

Through short one-minute videos of daily observations, Danish Sait has become the lockdown’s biggest comic star.

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The suffering is next level, bro!’

This one-liner from RJ and comedian Danish Sait’s quarantine comedy series perfectly encapsulates why the comedian has caught the imagination of Indians amid the lockdown.

His brand of lockdown-humour involves nitpicking various things about privileged Indians, specifically Bangalorean millennial archetypes— they wear long tees and caps at home, smoke ganja or are in the constant pursuit of scoring some, pepper every sentence with ‘bro’, ‘macha’ or ‘dude’ and usually end their statements with a question.

Sait’s observational comedy strikes a chord with viewers because of his ability to see humour in our collective, dark experience during the Covid-19 pandemic. His videos help us take a step back for a minute, to look at ourselves, look back at his videos, and laugh at the absurdity of the times we’re living in. Thanks to his sketches, we don’t have to wait for the future in order to look back at this experience and laugh at it ‘one day’ — we can do it right now.

Voice of middle-class India

Scores of articles and research papers are currently documenting changes occurring in society — be it in terms of mental health or people’s habits amid lockdown. These are published on a daily basis and use heavy jargon. But without trivialising their importance, RJ and comedian Danish Sait has been capturing the lockdown’s impact on everyday life through effortless jokes told in the form of one-minute videos.

Experts across different disciplines should take a minute to look at the videos to see how simply these everyday observations can be made and brought into popular culture. From discussing the challenges of zoom calls, struggles of living without the help of domestic workers, or the collective anxiety Indians go through before every speech made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Danish Sait has said it all. His playlist of sketch videos could be the go-to for anyone who wants to understand how middle-class India is living and coping with the pandemic.

Bangalore boy to Pan-India sensation

Before the lockdown hit and Danish Sait became an internet sensation, his voice had been able to attract the attention of Indians through his long-running prank call show Supari on Fever FM in Bengaluru, which also aired in Hyderabad and Chennai.

The characters in Sait’s lockdown videos are not new, they’ve been re-imagined from his radio show, but are now enjoying pan-India popularity.

It’s refreshing to see characters from outside Mumbai, Delhi or the Hindi heartland not only get mainstream representation, but also go viral. Sait’s characters draw inspiration from South Indians, but thankfully never parody themselves in order to appeal to a North Indian gaze.

Also read: TikTok vs YouTube is the new class war on internet. It all began with a roast


Humour that could match up to Seinfeld

At the risk of giving Sait too generous a compliment, it is possible that his comedic persona compares to the hugely successful 1989 American sitcom Seinfeld, which could be considered the benchmark of observational humour.

Not to say that his snippy videos match the genius of Seinfeld (although Sait should definitely try out a 20-minute format). But his videos are reminiscent of the simple, unwitting Seinfeld-style comedy that exaggerates the mundane things. They offer the same delightful and precise reading of society, without a judgemental tone —“Bro the birds are the next level, da!”

If this collective lockdown experience wasn’t enough to make you crack up, then Sait’s use of objects such as his mobile phone, his cat, a tissue box, and even a 15-litre water can and gas cylinder will definitely have you in splits. Special shout out to the random fits of forced laughter that he lets out following a bad joke, which are quite the embodiment of the forced ‘hahas’ we send on WhatsApp.

It’s not like others haven’t tried their hands at observational humour. Even celebrities like couple Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra attempted to make funny videos while acting “middle class”, but failed to produce anything an ordinary Indian might relate to.

Also read: Quarantine has taken away Patriot Act’s oomph, Hasan Minhaj’s show isn’t the same without it

Move over, political comedy

There is little mainstream comedy in India right now that isn’t politically heavy in nature. Take Saloni Gaur’s insanely popular Nazma Aapi for instance, whose claim to fame has been hot-takes on political developments of the day.

Comics play an important role in raising issues plaguing society and expressing dissent. But lately, it seems like political comedy is the only kind of comedy being served to us.

Other popular comedians, with the exception of Jose Covaco with his trademark comedy of errors — have been MIA amid lockdown. Biswa Kalyan Rath is busy posting which day it is on his Instagram, Vir Das is largely promoting his show Hansmukh on Netflix, and Kunal Kamra’s Twitter is used mostly for political activism, or videos parodying the Central government with a ‘who did this (crying face) emoji’. Nothing new or experimental.

This inconspicuous absence of other comics from the scene seems to have also helped the Bangalore boy, who has become India’s voice amid lockdown, while others continue to revel in their Netflix specials.

It’s refreshing to see someone take potshots at society-at-large instead of the government all the time, especially finding comedy in tragedy.

Sait has made us laugh at ourselves, something all of us need to learn because life would actually be tragic if not funny.

Views are personal.

Also read: Live shows out, live-streaming in: What the future of performing arts could look like


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