This article has been submitted by Stuti Agarwal for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.
“Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.” – Charlie Chaplin
I love comedy. Heck, my life’s a comedy. But let’s not get into that, a poor old sob’s sob story. I want to write about this art that, honestly, gets me and the masses cracked up every time.
My initiation into reading and watching comedy and humour was secured by an early introduction to Jane Austen’s comedy of manners and P. G. Wodehouse’s colourful world, where no one is evil, everything is sunny, light and frothy, and a happy ending is around the corner. He is the perfect antidepressant! Oscar Wilde, that bugger, he wrote possibly the best one-liners ever. He once said, “God gave man imagination to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humour to console him for what he is.” Brilliant, eh? R. K. Narayan’s world of Malgudi was unique; as my friend Sarrah put it, it was “adorably simple and simply adorable.” Ruskin Bond’s adventures with his Uncle Ken still regale me. Agatha Christie – murder she wrote, but she had a great sense of humour too (Poirot’s physical description is enough). And how could one forget, the ubiquitous and evergreen comics, Asterix (the characters’ names: Getafix, Vitalstatistix, Crismus Bonus, to name a few), Tintin (“Thundering typhoons, blistering barnacles!”), Calvin & Hobbes and Peanuts.
I grew up watching films like Sholay, Golmaal (the Amol Palekar version. Duh!) and Chupke Chupke. I break out each time I watch Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, and Chashme Buddoor. Their brilliance in their simplicity is beyond words.
Laurel & Hardy and Charlie Chaplin made great slapstick. Duck Soup is the gold standard of the Marx Brothers’ whimsy. The scene with the hats, and the mirror sequence will have you in splits. Woody Allen is the filmmaker I love best, with the fast-paced dialogue that catches his galloping train of thought and his grip on the humour behind and the volatility of human emotions (Look at Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters, Mighty Aphrodite, Radio Days and Everyone Says I Love You). His films are pure joy. When Harry Met Sally… set a standard for romantic comedies that’s still unbroken (Best line: “I’ll have what she’s having.”). Amelie is such a whimsical film, with Audrey Tautou’s sweet innocence and the city I’m in love with, Paris! My Fair Lady, where Rex Harrison informs the crowd that the Americans have not spoken English in years and Audrey Hepburn’s tells Ascot’s elegant ladies that someone “did my uncle in”. Peter’s Friends is stuffed with one-liners, trademark Brit humour. Sample this; Carol: “I would like some coffee, do you have any Equal?” Peter: “I’m famous for having no equal.” In A Fish Called Wanda, an animal lover tries to kill off an old woman, but ends up killing her four pet dogs one-by-one. He then attends the dogs’ funerals. Singin’ in the Rain, my favourite musical, is a fond satire of Hollywood. Gene Kelly, a superstar, tries to break up with his shrill co-star who is in love with him because she read about it in a fan-magazine. He tells her, “There’s nothing between us; just air.” Also, A Hard Day’s Night, about a day in the life of the Beatles. A reporter asks McCartney, “How did you find America?” McCartney replies, “I just turned left of Greenland.”
Sitcoms too. Friends is like my mum’s kadhi-chaawal; satisfying and comforting. My other favourite sitcoms are 30 Rock, Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, Yes Minister, That 70’s Show, Jeeves & Wooster, A Bit of Fry & Laurie. (I love the British sense of humour. It’s so cruel!) And the usual Full House, Small Wonder that I grew up with. And I’m looking forward to Arrested Development (Get me that portable HDD, Shubha!)
So you see, I’m a hopeless romantic, head over heels in love with comedy. I’m an escapist I think, and comedy and movies are my refuge. (From the last sentence, you can also deduce that I love making fatalistic, filmi dialogues. And personal remarks in parentheses.) Comedy is that perfect world, where everyone’s predicament is a happy ending.
Comedy has taught me to laugh at myself. As Dame Edna Everage said, “Don’t be afraid of laughing at yourself; you could be missing out on the joke of the century.”
Batch of 2016,
Gujarat National Law University