Thanks to Mamata Banerjee, stand-up comics are a surfeited lot these days. When in doubt, write a Didi joke (note to comics: there are just so many Didi jokes out there, and you have used them all. Stop this atrocity now). But, there is one man whose contribution to comedy in India has gone unnoticed, unacknowledged and yes, he alone keeps many struggling comics afloat. If it were not for him, the so-called urban stand-up comedy revolution (can we label it a revolution if beer and jokes can now be found under one roof in our cities?) would never have occurred. We all know him as journalist-crusader, the man who selflessly rescues us from ourselves every day, saviour of the nation, and purveyor of justice, it is the legen – wait for it – dary, Arnab Goswami.
Now, about the comics who’re mooching off him, there are those whose sole purpose in comedy seems to be the takedown of Arnab Goswami. Take Anuvab Pal for example, the playwright (Chaos Theory) and scriptwriter (Loins of Punjab) has recently started moonlighting as a stand-up comic. His new show which opened last week at the Comedy Store in Mumbai is called The Nation Wants to Know (one of Arnab’s stock lines). Pal wrote an eloquent Ode to Arnab some time back, which you can read here. He calls him the John Rambo of Indian news anchors, the only man who not just reads the news, but can tear the news, break the news, blow the news and be blown by the news. It’s a long missive, filled with love from fanboy Anuvab to his hero Arnab.
If you dig some more of this goo-goo eyed stuff from unemployed comics to their object of affection and raison d’etre, then here is another one by Mumbai-based comic Khamba. He contends that a one-horned rhino gets poached in Kaziranga every time He (in the context of comedy, ‘He’ is not ‘he’ anymore) opens his mouth. Rohan Joshi, a popular stand-up in Mumbai worked in an auto show on Times Now, his signature line after quitting his job reads, ‘He got to drive the best cars in the world, travel to the best places in the world, and get paid a lot for it, while working under Arnab Goswami. Then he quit for a job with hardly any travelling and money, for a chance to NOT work with Arnab Goswami’.
I could go on with my list that proves just how many people owe their bread and butter to Arnab Goswami, and they are not all employees of Times Now. Ashish Shakya, a columnist and comic knows that no matter which of his jokes work, this one with Him always will, ‘I predict that Arnab Goswami will become the Speaker of the House and will be able to shut everybody up, except Navjot Singh Sidhu. This will then lead to a loudmouth death-match and the universe will explode’.
A few weeks back Madhu Kishwar wrote a well-meaning open letter to Arnab Goswami that went viral. For many the angry epistle represented the victory of David (we the people) over Goliath (Arnab Goswami, judge, jury and executioner all rolled into one). Kishwar highlighted Goswami’s Kangaroo Court tactics where instant justice and punishment are doled out to the wrong-doers every night. I must confess to feeling a moment of glib satisfaction when I read the piece. But, here is where I will gladly eat crow. Arnab Goswami, there have been many dull days made better by you. We love you just the way you are. And did I mention? Thank you for the comedy.