Laugh and you laugh aloneAgainst the adage of course, but I've found these days that when I laugh, I usually laugh alone. In particular, when I'm watching films or TV shows. Either I have lost a chunk of the part of the brain that makes one chuckle or people find more and different things to be humoured by than me, but the fact is that I've observed a certain "out of phase" laughter track when I'm involved in it.
Most of the junta finds different stuff funnier than me. Case in point was a film called Hungama. When so many people told me it was funny, I knew I wouldn't find it the same way. I can just tell. It's an easily derivable personal formula that spews the answer as "not funny" when one of its variables, namely the amount of people finding it funny, is inordinately large. I might've opened my mouth once during the flick. Perhaps to yawn. Much to the consternation of some of my relatives (after they were picking themselves off the floor having being "loT-poT" with "hasii"). Perhaps they called me a dirty word like "snob" or "elitist". But I loved Deewana Mastana which proves I still got what it takes to laugh. It's the movies that got cornier, I console myself.
Another case study: the PIFF screening of No Man's Land. A poignant tale wrapped in a protective blanket of tragicomedy. The humour is dark, desperate, dismissive, defensive. I didn't find anything funny in it. Amused at the clever wit, of course, but that didn't hide the tragedy of each passing minute. But if I had recorded the sounds from the audience and played it back to you, you would've been forgiven for thinking I was in a theatre showing Groucho Marx. They roared when guns were fired accidentally, they held their splitting stomachs when the men threatened each other, they slapped their hands in laughter when the bureaucrats took over. And I sat there, being reduced to helpless unhappiness, and puzzled at the jokes invisible to me.
These will tell me if I'm in a minority here. I like the lame & aimless humour of Sajid Khan rather than the superficially imitative Shekhar Suman. I laugh at Leno's jokes though sometimes I have no clue who the person in the middle of the joke is, but I can imagine the context well. I'd pay to watch Utpal Dutt go "yeeesh" rather than hear Shakti Kapoor's favourite monosyllables. I think Cyrus Broacha is the funniest man in India. I think Senthil-Goundamani (who, you ask?) and Vivek are worth listening to. I think Seinfeld is a philosopher sent on earth to help us understand better our world. There's a lot more I could offer, but why bother? R.K.Narayan, in one of his brilliant essays, indicated that the best way to kill laughter was to analyse it. Let me not do that.
One last peek. Tell you what, I think I'm not going to like "Munnabhai M.B.B.S", if I see it. End of presentation.