My thoughts on A2Z Challenge 2020

When I signed up for the A2Z Challenge in 2020, life was chaotic and turbulent. With the Covid-19 pandemic engulfing our lives, it wasn’t easy being a doctor’s wife. When my husband was away on the emergency duty, it was difficult to balance the role of a mother to a 4.6-year-old, take care of my aging in-laws at home and continue working on my MFA creating writing assignments. By registering for the challenge, I was taking up the humongous tasks of writing and reading multiple posts daily on myself. Yet, the thrill of participating for the third time outweighed all the hurdles. I promised myself that the day the challenge became overwhelming, I would quit at that moment. It took away a lot of unnecessary pressure and let me write with ease.

In 2018, I wrote non-fiction posts on various aspects of my home state, West Bengal under the theme of ‘A dollop of Bengal.’

In 2019, I shared my real-life experiences related to the process of school admissions for my then 3.5-year-old son, Tuneer under the theme ‘Sagas of surviving a toddler’s school admission procedures.

In 2020, I thought of bringing some relief to the anxiety and stress around us by speaking about Indian stand-up comedians and comedy channels on YouTube under the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona.’

My posts were about a bunch of versatile and talented performers who use humor to spread happiness, social awareness, make political satires, draw comedy sketches, and much more. At the end of each post, I added a link to one of my favorite videos by the artist to ensure that anyone who read my post left the page with a smile on their face. And while I was drafting these pieces and watching these videos before choosing one for my posts, my stress reduced because of my daily dose of laughter.

Amidst household chores, playing the role of a caregiver, and juggling weekly assignments, I finished publishing 26 posts on schedule for the third time in a row. I read 25-30 posts on a daily average and thoroughly enjoyed interacting with my fellow bloggers. I must admit that it is writing that kept me going through a difficult month.

Heartfelt gratitude to the team of International A2Z challenge, Blogchatter, and my fellow writers for being a part of my April journey this year. I hope to return next year with a new theme and renewed energy.

Z for Zakir Khan

There couldn’t have been a better way to end this series than speaking about the king of stand-up comedy, Zakir Khan. The comedian who has immortalized the punchline ‘sakth launda’ makes humor look effortless. The content of his videos on his YouTube channel makes it fairly clear as to why he receives a standing ovation from the audience after almost every show. This writer, stand-up comedian, poet, and actor is a versatile genius. He has a unique way of delivering his jokes that are high in humor but aren’t entirely devoid of profanity. However, it is his voice modulation that makes them sound ridiculously funny.

Zakir Khan - Source Insider.in
Zakir Khan – Source: Insider.in

Zakir is one of the first few artists with a huge number of shows on Amazon Prime. He is seen performing in two highly popular stand-up specials ‘Haq Se Single’ and ‘Kaksha Gyarvi’. He has also written and acted in a web series called ‘Chacha Vidhayak Hain Humare’ along with Kumar Varun. He was one of the judges in Comicstaan Season 2 and very recently, he was also invited to be a part of the show ‘One Mic Stand’ as a mentor.

There is also a sensitive and philosophical side of this multi-talented performer that manifests itself through occasional videos of him performing ‘shayari’ on his YouTube channel. It is also a delight to listen to him discussing the journey of life through the podcast of his show ‘Ummeed’ on Gaana.

This is the last post in the Blogchatter A2Z challenge, 2020 based on the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona’. Thank you for being a part of my April journey this year.

All the posts in this series are available here. As I say bid goodbye to this season of A2Z challenge, I leave you with this cracker of a video that is surely going to make you roll with laughter. Stay safe and take care.

W for Karunesh Tal(W)ar

The primary similarity between the content of stand-up comedian Karunesh Talwar and the Bollywood movie ‘Thappad’ is about making the audience uncomfortable about issues that have been normalized for too long. This cynical writer and comedian believe in choosing humor as a medium to communicate his angst against such happenings while also initiating a conversation around such topics. I discovered Talwar through one of his hard-hitting YouTube videos on women’s safety long back. Back then, he would mostly perform while sitting in one place. It was way different from the usual way of acting out jokes by most of his contemporaries. Over time, the chair has disappeared from the stage but the style of the act in the form of a conversation stays the same. The man with an expressive set of eyes only uses content and voice modulation to get his point across.

Karunesh Talwar - Source: Facebook
Karunesh Talwar – Source: Facebook

During his performance, there are no histrionics on stage, no over-the-top performances and no intention of sugar-coating jokes. He is one of the most sensible, straight-forward and intelligent comedians. He also belongs to the rare group of feminist artists who highlight issues from a woman’s perspective. I identify him as a stand-up humorist who tries to show the mirror to a patriarchal society.

He also cracks jokes about the current political scenario and a few unique topics like the Masterchef show and Bollywood. He made a stellar debut on Amazon Prime with his brilliant stand-up special Pata Nahi Par Bolna Hai’. Talwar’s performance is a classic example of using words as a medium to stir the conscience of its audience while tickling them with humor. Recently, his homemade joke videos on life during quarantine turned out to be a laugh riot.

This is the twenty-third post in the Blogchatter A2Z challenge based on the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona’. Stay tuned to know the details of the content creator(s) getting featured in my post for X tomorrow.

You can read all the posts in this series here. Hope this video brings a smile on your face.

V for Varun Grover

Writer, author, lyricist, activist, poet, and stand-up comedian Varun Grover is a well-known name in the field of the visual medium. He has won the National award for the best lyrics in 2015-16 for his song ‘Moh moh ke dhaage’ from the movie ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar. This intellectual activist is known for his strong opinion on the current political and socio-economic scenario in the country. His work includes movies like Masaan and Gangs of Wasserpur, Udta Punjab, Newton and web series like Sacred Games among many others. His poem ‘Hum Kaagaz Nahi Dikhayenge’ against the imposition of NRC went viral to become such a rage that it was considered as the unofficial anthem for solidarity in the fight against oppression. A few months ago, he was also in the news for uploading pictures wearing nail paints while smashing gender stereotyping.

Varun Grover - Source: YouTube
Varun Grover – Source: YouTube

Grover is known for his political satires. Be it on the ban that the movie Padmavaat faced or the stifling environment overshadowing the nation, this razor-sharp humorist doesn’t mince his words while taking a dig at such an unfortunate turn of events. ‘Aisi Taisi Democracy‘, the part comedy and part musical show that he performs with Rahul Ram (Indian Ocean) and Sanjay Rajoura touch upon uncomfortable topics in the present scenario.

Through the veil of humor, Grover highlights those issues that are either covered-up or not supposed to be spoken about for being highly sensitive. This powerful and empowered artist promotes awareness by coating the truth with a dose of humor. There are very few performers who have the potential to create such thought-provoking quality content applying the genre of comedy.

This is the twenty-second post in the Blogchatter A2Z challenge based on the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona.’ I will see you on Monday when I disclose the featured stand-up comedian in my post for W.

You can read the previous posts in the series here. I strongly recommend everyone to watch this video to understand how jokes can also make you uncomfortable and hit your conscience while laughing out loud.

U for Abhishek Upmanyu

I discovered Abhishek Upmanyu, a curly-haired and bespectacled confident comedian with a unique way of delivering jokes in one of Biswa Kalyan Rath‘s videos. He was the only one among a handful of comedians who could make a bunch of children laughs with his impromptu gig. His pace of conversation is so unique that it earned him a show titled ‘thoda saaf bol.’ Over time, this Delhi humorist has got himself a make-over (both the specs and curls have disappeared) while his content has evolved into humor that’s witty yet insightful.

Abhishek Upmanyu Source: YouTube
Abhishek Upmanyu-Source: YouTube

This sharp-witted comedian started stand-up shows speaking about how ugly he looked while as a new-born baby to speaking about the unnecessary pressure on kids to respect elders, life in Delhi v/s Mumbai, friendship, obsession with the show of crime patrol, and many other topics. This observant performer draws inspiration from the mundane things in life and fits the relevant issues within the context of his show.

Of late, he has also started uploading unedited versions of his trial shows and videos of live audience interaction. His self-deprecating humor while roasting people with the same first name as him is ridiculously funny. Upmanyu’s content steers clear of unnecessary profanity and abusive language.

This is the twenty-first post in the Blogchatter A2Z challenge based on the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona.’ I will see you tomorrow when I disclose the featured funny man in my post for V.

You can read the previous posts in the series here. Don’t forget to click on his video to know why Upmanyu has a special attachment to the crime patrol show.

S for Sumukhi Suresh

Sumukhi Suresh is a firebrand performer. I was introduced to her skills through the Better Life Foundation web series created by Naveen Richard and Them Boxer Shorts. While she featured in a bunch of AIB videos, sketch comedies like ‘Go straight, take left’, I was mesmerized by dark humor she created in the Behti Naak series with Kumar Varun and Trupti Khamkhar. Through Behti, a ten-year-old with a deadpan expression, she spoke about issues like the perception towards marriages in India, domestic abuse, racism and many more She also created the memorable character of a house-help Parvathi Bai in the form of a series with Sanjay Manaktala. She has been a part of both the seasons of Comicstaan, playing the part of a host in the first season and that of a judge in the second season. She has also acted in the Kannada movie ‘Humble Politician Nograj’ with Danish Sait.

Sumukhi Suresh - Source platinumlist.ne:
Sumukhi Suresh – Source: platinumlist.net

Three years back, I binge-watched Pushpavalli Season one and I was so blown away by her writing skills, thought-process behind creating the not-so-likable protagonist and her acting prowess that I had to write a review for the show. In the last couple of months, her first solo stand-up special ‘Don’t Tell Amma’has been launched on Amazon Prime and she recently returned with the second season of Pushpavalli co-starring Naveen Richard that manages to keep the audience at tenterhooks yet again. Sumukhi is one of the finest humorists we have in India whose range of characters, topics, and ideas re-define the word ‘versatile’.

This is the nineteenth post in the Blogchatter A2Z challenge based on the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona.’ I will see you tomorrow when I disclose the featured funny man in my post for T.

You can read the previous posts in the series here. Dark Humour isn’t a genre explored by many Indian artists, so I am sharing one of Sumukhi’s brilliant sketches. It might make you smile but is bound to hit you hard.

R for Random Chikibum

Random Chikibum is a comedy channel run by the multitalented stand-up comedians, content creators and actors, Rahul Subramanian and Kumar Varun. Their focus was to create light-hearted web-series and sketches based on the life of corporate employees. Drawing inspiration from their experiences, the ex-colleagues explore the nuisances of the corporate world in their witty and satirical style through the series of Random Daftar and Chota Random.

Rahul Subramanian & Kumar Varun - Source: bookmyshow
Rahul Subramanian & Kumar Varun – Source: BookMyShow

This channel also features stand-up videos by Rahul Subramanian. He is such a versatile performer that even the modulation of his voice tone can make the audience roll with laughter. His content is intelligently humourous. A special mention to the unscripted crowd work videos that he has been uploading of late. Rahul interacts with a live audience and creates jokes on the spot based on his interactions with them. It takes an uber-creative and supremely confident artist to explore such spontaneous acts of comedy. He has also featured in multiple videos of AIB and web series like Pushpavalli. He made his debut on Amazon Prime with his solo stand-up special called ‘Kal Mein Udega’.

Kumar Varun is a well-known name in the comedy circuit. He has made appearances in AIB videos, Behti Naak series by Sumukhi Suresh, and acted in web series like Better Life Foundation, Chacha Vidhayak Hai Humara, and Pushpavalli. Very recently, he took to experimenting with stand-up comedy. He re-defines the ease with which a joke can be cracked without displaying too many emotions. He is a natural performer and an effortless humorist.

This is the eighteenth post in the Blogchatter A2Z challenge based on the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona.’ I hope to see you tomorrow when I divulge the details of the stand-up comedian getting featured in my post for ‘S’.

You can read the previous posts in the series here. Here’s a video from Rahul’s stand-up comedy that is also one of my personal favorites. Despite watching it more than fifty times, it never fails to make me laugh out loud.