Tamil comedy group Temple Monkeys, which was one of the first YouTube channels in the language, is known for its edgy take on a wide variety of subjects concerning the state. From the NEET exam to TN politics and pop culture, the channel has come up with several entertaining videos which pack a punch while getting the point across.
The latest from the team takes on the standup comedy scene in Chennai, which has prominent comedians from the Brahmin community who are known to exhibit caste pride onstage. Itâ€™s not hard to guess which comedian in particular has been satirised in the video, but Sit Down Comedy, as it is titled, is much more than a critique of one person.
The video speaks of the caste network within the field which enables people from certain communities to get more opportunities than others, as is the case in other professions, too. Added to this is the constant reiterations of caste identity that punctuate several of these standup shows in the city, in the name of comedy and â€śculturalâ€ť references.
Sit Down Comedy is also about the audience which goes for these shows, and is primarily made up of upper caste and upper class people. As the â€śoutsiderâ€ť (played brilliantly by Abdool) points out, the expensive ticket makes sure that people like him cannot frequent these shows. And so, the audience, which comes from the same sociocultural location (Mylapore, physically speaking) as the comedian, encourage him by cheering wildly for his caste-laced humour.
Thereâ€™s also a character called Peter Johnson/Jackson (a reference to the Dalit Christian character played by GV Prakash in Sarvam Thaala Mayam) who wants to try his hand at standup comedy. To begin with, heâ€™s sitting on the floor, unlike the rest of the audience. He laughs at the jokes though he doesnâ€™t find them funny, in an attempt to be accepted. This is similar to the plot of the Tamil film, which had GV Prakashâ€™s Peter becoming Brahmanised to find acceptance in the Carnatic music scene. Eventually though, when he gets an opportunity to perform, nobody but Abdool is around to watch him.
The video ends with a pun that also doubles up as a challenge to break the Brahmin hegemony in the standup comedy scene in Chennai.
Sit Down Comedy, which was uploaded on YouTube on Wednesday, has received over 46,000 views. It has also been widely shared on Facebook.