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Posted at: Aug 19, 2019, 7:52 AM; last updated: Aug 19, 2019, 7:52 AM (IST)

Mastering the art of laughter

Country, gender, politics— Singapore-based Sharul Channa knows the appeal of stand-up comedy but also knows where to draw the line
Mastering the art of laughter

Manpriya Singh

They say you can tell a lot about a person by the kind of jokes they laugh at, or maybe they kind of jokes they crack. Talk about anything, in-laws, funerals, weddings, Indian relatives and Sharul Channa has a lot to say, only you can’t tell if she’s joking or she is serious.

A few hours before her stand-up comedy gig in Chandigarh, this Singapore-based full-time comedienne will entertain it all, the volley of questions, controversial subjects and of course whether jokes have a shelf life. “You can carry on with the same joke for four years, it’s just about breathing new life into it,” she shares. A brand ambassador of Singapore Tourism, trained actor by profession, stand-up comedy happened when someone once requested her to entertain the audience for just three minutes. Those three minutes have lasted ever since and everything in between is like any other profession, “There are good days and there are bad days. Sometimes a joke lands well, sometimes it doesn’t.” she shrugs.

Indian television? No

While she understands India is a fertile market, especially, in terms of national TV channels all too willing and open to stand-up comedy, but it’s still a space she is sure about—in the negative. “I don’t think women reach the sphere they should do. I’d lose a lot of myself, I will intimidate everyone. I love the country and the audience though. It’s also a great place for social commentary, but I am not sure about television,” she adds currently on an 11-city tour in India.

License vs censorship

While she is in the profession for creative freedom and loves the fact that she can be her own, ‘director, writer, actor all in one go’, there is a lot of self-censorship that she imposes. “I’d never do a rape joke, a joke on natural disasters in any country, I don’t even believe in male bashing. I definitely do jokes on pay disparity between men and women, which is everywhere, but I don’t put men down.”

Incredibly Indian relatives

Three things relatives in India ask if you are a full-time comedienne, ‘So, how much are you earning doing this?’ followed by, ‘What exactly is this’ and lastly, ‘Do you really have to do this?’

Typical sense of humour

Difficult as it may be to define humour, or worse still categorise ‘sense of humour’, nevertheless, we’ve heard of terms like British humour, American humour, dry humour, etc. She shares her take on what sort of jokes will land well where. London—They are going through a lot currently so absolutely no racism jokes. They like a good play on words.

China—We are lucky to do any humour. Jokes apart.

Singapore—You are forced to do ‘international humour’ because it is so multicultural and cosmopolitan. You are constantly thinking of how am I going to unite everybody, there are kids, Asian women, European men, etc.

India— Indians love to be entertained, told stories.

The icons of comedy

Being a nineties kid, she grew up watching Omar Sharif, Jaspal Bhatti, even in Singapore. It’s their signature sense of humour that she finds very respectful.


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