As a teenager, I spent a few years trying to crack an original joke. And spent many more years waiting to unleash it at a crowd when they least expect it. Just so I time it well. And be hailed as a king of spontaneous wit. Because for some strange reason, this funny voice that seems to emerge from my hypothalamus always told me that it’s going to make me popular. So armed with a few puns, I started writing jokes. I now realise it’s not the same as being funny, but humour me for a few more lines, won’t you?
After writing a few jokes, it occurred to me that it would take me a lifetime before I found an opportune moment to say something like, “KFC is a truly democratic organisation. Whether it’s the left wing or the right wing, both can be bought at the same price.” What was I thinking?
Probably I thought I’d earned the right to be funny. Taking a cue from all those countless Bollywood movies of the 90s, where one would see 35-year-old heroes literally dancing around college, I learnt that if you weren’t hero enough to say “Meri Pant Bhi Sexy”, your best shot at getting some glory as a side-kick would be if you were witty enough to say, “Draupadi teri akele ki nahi hai … hum sab shareholder hain”. So I went about trying to write something funny every day.
To say I stayed committed would be an understatement. It’s almost like saying the IPL ads are irritating, when you actually mean to say that they are like mosquitoes breeding on Columbia’s most valuable chemicals. So on I wrote, one joke at a time. And what drove me to do this every day? Just a few laughs actually. “When I tell people I want to kick off a career in comedy, they laugh.”
But the more I tried to say something funny, the more I ended up laughing at myself. Here’s a sample, “I’m so lazy that even in my dreams, I find myself sleeping.”
I’d begun this earnest exercise four years back. I am still very far away from calling myself a funny guy. But at least, in four years I’d like to believe I spent more time trying to make sense than Rahul Gandhi has all his life. “What’s common to Congress and the pizza from the neighbourhood bakery? Both have a rotten crust with some Italian topping. ”
I’ll probably never know what it is to be a full-time comic. But thanks to this silly exercise I subjected myself to, I can make a safe guess. “As a kid, I thought becoming a humour writer would help me laugh all the way to the bank. Today, the only one who seems to be laughing is my banker.”
So after attempting to write 1407 jokes over the last four years, I’ve come to realise there are just two ways to look at all the troubles in life. I could choose to call them nightmares and lose my sleep over them. Or call them bad jokes and laugh it off. I think I’ll do the latter.
If it will bring me nothing else, it will at least help me think up of stuff like this – “The problem with being labelled a funny guy is the women stop taking you seriously.”