What is the Artists’ dilemma amidst the Deluge

Poke Me KKKarthik Kumar is the co-founder & director of Evam Entertainment. His energy and zeal for life in theatre is infectious. Catch him on stage as a stand up comic in his solo special show #PokeME on Dec 13 in Chennai and Dec 20 in Bangalore.


Firstly I’ll refrain from using Aquatic metaphors for the rest of this article – both for your sake, and mine.
Secondly, this article is all about the dilemma of an Artist, in the context of the gigantic human tragedy that we all have just witnessed and experienced, so read on if you are keen on knowing more about such banal challenges.

I have heard of so many Artists calling off their Margazhi shows. I have been witness to Artists and Actors being censured for even discussing their shows / work during this period. I myself had to think plenty about the social ramifications and meaning of going ahead with my Solo Standup show #PokeMe on December 13, in Chennai.

The fact that we are raising 2.5-7.5 Lacs for Chennai Flood Relief, and crowd sourcing rewards for young volunteers who worked tirelessly to stem the Bleed when Chennai most needed them, is reason enough for the show to go on. But thats not the Artist’s issue… thats the Producer’s issue!

Because as that got done – I’m sitting with the unique challenge of ‘How do I make my city laugh?’ – ‘How do I ( dare I )talk about South Indian stereotyping, Gobi Manjoori, Women in Nighties, and Maggi, when the Elephant in the room is the Human Tragedy that has befallen us?!’… I’m certain Bombay Jayashri is thinking of ‘How do I (dare I) make my Chennai people reflect on the nuance of a newly revisited Keerthanai when such a pall of sullenness hangs in the air?’

I’m sitting with my show and its material and wondering – where do I start? What do I say? Do I need to re-contextualize? Do I acknowledge the Elephant in the room? Do I refer to it? Do I talk about it? Do I make fun of it?

#Polaris and its huge number of supporters were touchy enough when the evident fallibility of their Blanket distribution system was in question, and poked fun at- and this was educated lovely fabulous people, and a corporate known for high values and practices. Their Blanket distribution system, and Communication machinery around it, was a blot on their way of doing things, but considerable resistance was made when it was made fun of. Even though by their own standards they would have thought it was a ‘joke’.

Sense of humour is at an all time low – as would be Appreciation of a solo Bharatanatyam artist’s rendition of Krishna’s flirtations with Radha – or a Modern dancers interpretation of the sexuality of Krishna and his oneness with his Dual identity…

Amidst that we are assured that there is a need for ART even more now… ART opens up emotions – provides vent to them – which also means if I Joke about Amma on Dec 13, I’m likely to face the solidarity of a huge lot of people, and if I say a word in sarcasm against those wanting to PAN her ill be lambasted by those who believe I should not take that stance – yet :)

And Timing is everything in Humour – and there I sit and ponder… is the Timing right? Will my Timing be right? Has that joke Expired? Or is it relevant in a different form now?

At the end of the day I start the readying for the show with the clear thought that – all my ‘Humour’ comes from an Emotional core… and that Emotional core is not right or wrong – its just Emotional. I will offend Everyone and I’ll make light of it all – because by doing so I’m Celebrating all that I am making fun of… I believe it worth Talking about! If it wasn’t I would not waste my energy constructing a piece of humour around it…
The humour I construct is the celebration of the subject!

So I celebrate LGBT identities, our Current political Quagmire, AMMA, Thaatha, Nighties, North India vs South Indias and all the Crocs that are freely wandering around Chennai now… can’t wait to feed some people to it- but although my love for Human beings is at the highest its ever been, but that won’t last long… Animals are always the better species!

Come on Dec 13 and I’ll have my wits about me by then – you do too please and we will Laugh – and Celebrate all that happened and didn’t happen and should happen…

May the Margazhi continue as Art :)

May we all find Meaning again – in everything, and in our ART even more so – and through it, be able to see the future through a kaleidoscope of Optimistic Angst!

Karthik Kumar

Facebook – Karthik Kumar Standup Comic

Twitter – @evamkarthik

About EVAM

Founded in 2003 by Sunil Vishnu K. and Karthik Kumar, ‘evam’ today is a profitable young thriving arts organization making people believe in the power of the Arts.
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