10 Must Watch Stand-Up Comedians


1. Frankie Boyle

“The government are considering spending £3million on a state funeral for Margaret Thatcher when she dies. For £3million they could buy everyone in Scotland a shovel, and we’ll dig a hole deep enough to deliver her to Satan ourselves.”

He is the unmatched master of black comedy. The Scot has carved a niche for himself on British television owing to his risque act. He has appeared on television shows such as Mock the Week, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and is the host of the show Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights. His material touches upon everything from murder, pedophilia to autism and terrorism. Sprinkled among them are hilarious routines about Scottish people and the foibles of the British society. He has released two live DVDs named Live at the Hackney Empire and If I Could Reach Out Through Your TV and Strangle You I Would. You’ll either find him extremely offensive or extremely funny.

2. Michael McIntyre

“My wife and I both made a list of 5 people we could sleep with. She read hers out and there were no surprises, George Clooney, Brad Pitt etc. I thought ‘Ive got the better deal here’ so I just put down: Your sister”

At first he might look slightly Asian and camp, something he agrees with, but he’s the big thing in comedy right now. Performing in front of full houses around Britain, he is a must watch. His material focuses on everyday life and embarrassing situations that we often find ourselves in. He draws inspiration from the English way of life and his keen observations of human behaviour often result in hilarious routines. His major television appearances have been on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and Britain’s Got Talent where he serves as a judge; apart from appearances on various panel shows. He has released two DVDs named Live and Laughing and Hello Wembley.

3. Jimmy Carr

“I worry about my nan. If she’s alone and falls, does she make a noise? I’m joking, she’s dead.”

Another British comic completes the top 3 of our list. Jimmy Carr’s unique act features dark humour with an unmatched style of delivery. He might seem posh to you at first but soon his jokes about disability, rape, torture etc. will make you go, “Why am I laughing at that!”. One particular video of him being heckled during a performance has received over 2 million+ hits on YouTube because of the way he dismantles the heckler, completely battering him into submission! On television he hosts the show 8 out of 10 Cats and hosts the annual new year show, The Big Fat Quiz of The Year. He has released 6 DVDs to date named Live, Stand Up, Comedian, In Concert, Telling Jokes, and Making People Laugh.

4. Greg Giraldo

“If you’re going to dedicate your career to ranting about the excesses of American capitalism, you probably shouldn’t weigh 450 pounds.”

Greg Giraldo was undoubtedly one of the funniest American comedians around. His death in 2010 came as shock to everyone. A lawyer by profession, he is fondly remembered for his awesome performances on Comedy Central’s annual Roast Specials where he roasted celebrities such as William Shatner, Chevy Chase, Pamela Anderson, Larry the Cable Guy, Bob Saget etc. Despite this, his best work was his stand-up comedy where he really came into his own. Talking about everything from the unhealthy American lifestyle to our unsustainable modern society, he wasn’t just funny, he was intelligent. He mostly performed short specials on Comedy Central and released an album named Good Day To Cross A River and a DVD named Midlife Vices. A truly funny guy who will be missed.

5. Jim Gaffigan

“Whenever you are single, all you see are couples, but whenever you are a couple, all you see are hookers.”

Two words describe this guy: Unbelievably Funny! Seriously I haven’t laughed as much over an hour and a half as I did watching him perform on stage. His mode of delivering the jokes is what sets him apart from the rest. While talking about something he’ll abruptly switch his voice to sound like a member of his audience saying things like “Oh this guy is going to hell”, or “He’s weird!”. He talks about the most mundane stuff around like food or family traditions but somehow manages to extract comedy from them. He has released five albums and two DVDs named Beyond the Pale and King Baby.

6. Jack Dee

“My local’s rough as anything. I went to the pub quiz the other night, first question was, “What the f**k are you looking at?”

Jack Dee’s USP lies in the way he tells his jokes. On stage he comes off as an easily irritated person who just basically hates the world! He slags off everyone from telemarketers to Cockneys (a possible overlap) and mostly does observational comedy with some really loud moments in between. He usually ends his show by reading out comments or SMS’es sent by his audience which results in some truly laugh out loud situations. He has released six shows on VHS and DVDs to date. His last two DVDs Live Again and Live At The Apollo shouldn’t be missed.

7. Danny Bhoy

“I saw corn-fed, farm-reared breast of chicken on the menu of a posh restaurant. I thought, I don’t really care about the chicken’s childhood!”

Part Scottish part Indian, Danny Bhoy is a very funny guy. His comedy is mostly observational and his impressions of people of different nationalities are extremely funny. A lot of his material also focuses on his Scottish heritage and is often hilarious. He appeared on Comedy Central performing a special named Subject to Change and has also performed on Live at The Apollo.

8. Brian Regan

“ I would have been a lot better off if I’d studied more when I was growing up, y’know. But you know where it all went wrong was the day they started the spelling bee. Because up until that day I was an idiot, but nobody else knew.”

An immensely talented comedian and an equally lovable person, Brian Regan has gained quite a large fan base in the US. His observational and self deprecating humour often leaves audiences in splits. He sometimes does slapstick, physical humour too; just the image of him jumping around on the stage makes me laugh! He has performed specials for Comedy Central and has released three DVDs titled Epitome of Hyperbole, Standing Up and All By Myself.

9. Adam Hills

Adam Hills is Australia’s darling. A genuinely funny comic from down under, he has quickly made a name for himself after appearing on shows such as Mock The Week, Never Mind The Buzzcocks in Britain and has his own weekly talk show named Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight on Australian television. What’s unique about his stand-up is that he uses a sign language interpreter for deaf people among his audience. In one routine of his, he actually talks about how sign language is a bit racist! Being from Australia, a lot of his material focuses on Australians and their way of life. His shows often involve interaction with members of the audience and have a general feel good environment about them. Check out his solo work Characterful, Joymonger and Inflatable.

10. Milton Jones

” I once baked a pie and took it to Leeds, Reading and Liverpool. All because my teacher told me to take pie (pi) to three dismal (decimal) places”

On first look he’d probably come across as a homeless person on a bad hair day! But Milton Jones is an incredibly funny comic. His style of humour is based on one-liners and puns. The way he incorporates this play on words into his material is truly brilliant. His deadpan delivery style further adds to the hilarious nature of his jokes which, admittedly, take a couple of seconds to be fully understood and appreciated! He has released one DVD titled Milton Jones Live Universe Tour.

Special Mention:

Russell Peters, Robin Williams, Ed Byrne, Dara O’Braian, Russell Brand, Mark Watson

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Going With The Flow: The Placement Blame-Crib Diagram


Prevalent in all major colleges in India, the above diagram illustrates the general behaviour of a student in his/her final year during placement season i.e their first career recruitment. Unrealistic expectations, mood swings, tendency to blame unrelated factors, competing with friends – all come into picture.
Note: The Pundits are not immune to this phenomenon.

Reflections Upon Graduation


It feels like the end of an era, the last of the good old days and the final frontier with life staring from the other side when one graduates from college and into the world beyond the walls of the campus. Facing the realities of life as one leaves college may seem like a daunting prospect and one often feels inept and ill equipped for it. Starting a business, joining the work force, taking the family business forward or even studying further, all require an amount of pre planning and analysis of one’s skills to be able to choose the best among the myriad possibilities. A lot depends on where you see yourself in, say, ten years’ time. Do you see yourself at a desk in an office, or in a rainforest looking to capture the perfect picture? It’s a matter of perspective as a job which is appealing to one person may be the last thing another person would do.

It all boils down to competition in the end, a real life “survival of the fittest” scenario where the best are chosen to occupy the higher ends of the social ladder while the mediocre are shown the door. An entrepreneur will only be successful if he either has a novel idea of a unique start up or he works on an existing idea while making it more efficient and better suited to needs. Similarly, a quality firm will hire you only when you have proven to be better in aptitude, skills, and personality, than your immediate competitors. A family business will stagnate if you do not possess the skills to effectively take it forward while maintaining its legacy. And if you’re looking for an admission into that dream university of yours, it would require clearing entrance exams and various other tests to separate you from the ones who will be rejected. Alas, we all fear rejection! What we forget is that rejection is a kind of a litmus test which tells us what we’ve been missing all along. It often shatters self-confidence but brings us back down to earth so that we evaluate ourselves and then give it another go with all our concerted efforts. If we find that it still hasn’t quite worked out for us, then it’s probably because we have been directing our skills and efforts in the wrong place and a realization that our real competencies lie elsewhere dawns on us.

It’s not unheard of to take time off to re-evaluate ones interests in life before “going with the flow” – something that a majority of us do end up doing. Unfortunately, our society doesn’t allow that kind of breathing space for a young person who is still learning about his inclinations in life. Society inherently demands you to follow the existing trend and often frowns upon anyone who breaks from the rut to pursue their own ambitions. Yet it is how great people are created; people who question trends and have the confidence and aptitude to shape public opinion and social values while leading from the front.

Finally, it is ambition along with faith in ourselves that drives us to prepare for life after graduation. Be it any goal of ours, ambition will help shape our abilities towards achieving it. Because what we all want, in the end, is to look back at our lives and say, “What a journey it’s been!”

 

The Tale Of The Reality Show


This Passive Pundit has on multiple times berated Reality Shows and everything about them. Yet the fact remains that reality shows are today’s rage. Moreover now, genres of reality shows are starting to emerge, ranging from sport-adventure, business, cooking, comedy, general knowledge to performing arts. Then there are those which cannot be categorized simply because, well, they just have people doing nothing and millions of people sitting at home spying on them (And no the show isn’t on Voyeur TV). Hordes of competing shows each with similar yet slightly different formats to keep the audiences hooked is commonplace nowadays. Famous shows occasionally go international too with different language versions cropping up. Sure one might argue that these shows, apart from entertaining, also provide opportunities to participants to win and gain recognition in their respective fields (Susan Boyle, Chris Daughtry, Abhijeet Sawant etc. ) and again in some cases, earn the out-of-work celebrity some severely needed television exposure (The Kamal Khan types that is).

One look at all reality shows and a pattern emerges. Implying that there are basic features that govern a reality show. This being common to almost every reality show with slight variations. So here goes:

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1. The Judge:

Critical, contemptuous, condescending. Almost perfectly describes your average reality show judge. Though some of them do possess sound knowledge of their field of expertise yet their often rude disposition and disdain for the very nervy participant is amusing indeed. Some real talents do get their well deserved applause . But almost all judges seem to have an agenda (probably script written beforehand) of vilifying the performer, often bringing them down to tears. something completely unnecessary. Apparently all matters of acceptable social behaviour are rendered nullified once the camera starts rolling on these reality shows. Then there’s the antics these “judges” perform themselves. Quitting the show on camera, rushing backstage crying, quarelling amongst themselves; these are the asinine stunts which these geniuses-at-work attempt to pull off and completely mocking public intelligence in the process. As if one couldn’t see through these well-rehearsed, often scripted lies that are meant to add spice to the show and keep the audiences hooked. “More (melo)drama continues after the commercial break”, is what the presenter ought to say.

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2. The Contestant

One couldn’t completely discount the participants for making the reality show experience so distasteful either. If the judges are blamed to be too harsh on the participants, it’s often because of certain participants who are moronic beyond belief. These people appear to have joined in a cause to humiliate themselves on national television! Their purpose isn’t to actually register a commendable performance, but to gain some time on tv, just for the heck of it. Luckily these calamities are often eliminated in the early stages before they start wrecking our lives along with theirs. But even the talented ones that do make it through sometimes behave in uncultured ways. Again, more often than not their behaviour is dictated by the ever TRP hungry reality show makers who consider public swearing, and brawling amongst contestants as good agents of developing attention.


3.  The Host

What wonders me the most is what might be the criteria that reality shows use to pick their hosts. Maybe any obsessive, excessively jovial, emotionally inanimate jock that tickles their fancy. But again, out of work celebrities are preferred. As if the show wasn’t irritating itself, these harbingers of all things tedious keep appearing on screen to deliver line after line of repetitive monologues that never seem to serve any useful purpose. And each time they start every part of my body seems to scream, “We don’t need your opinion on how the performance was, you cretin!”. Regulations must dictate that this person spend the least time in front of the camera i.e do their job of introducing the contestant and announcing the result and fade into the backdrop. But alas, if it was for reality tv regulations lives would’ve been so much simpler.

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4. The Music + The Voice-over Guy:

The insipid  music and the computer-generated-voice like announcer guy add to the sickening experience of the reality show. Drumrolls, percussionary bangs, loud techno sound effects are commonly used. The kind of music you’d expect in a discotheque in fact.  And on the complete flip side, horror, goosebumps inducing, mortal peril, near death kind of music like the type you would hear in psycho killer movies. The arrangements are designed to be catchy too so as to create a unique identity for the reality show. One note played, and you’d know which reality show’s turn it is now to torture you internally. Then there’s the omnipresent Voice-over guy who seems to be watching everything from up above. From a safe distance in fact, yet he’s got all the inside info. No one’s actually ever sees this guy but still everyone eagerly anticipates his golden words. He’s got a scary and irritating voice too. I mean, who ever talks like that in real life? If they did, they’d be laughed at and mocked to no end! But it’s reality tv, so all sense of reasoning takes a corner seat.

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In conclusion, the bitter ride that is a reality show is indeed a series of unnecessary, yet knowingly, built in annoyances that divert the attention from the actual show itself. We may complain, but the fact remains that these mediums of mind boggling absurdities are here to stay.


Of Deliberate, Compassionate Conscience and The Following Silence


“Oh Demonic world, we doth behold,
How prices flew? How conscience sold?
How darkness loomed, how grave the shame
All lost in loss, absorbed deep in blame.”

Tainted Telecom minister A.Raja

As I watched a debate on a noted TV news channel last night, my stomach curled up in rage. My conscience mocked, I brooded as the gentlemen and women involved threw brickbats and bouquets at each other. Over what might you question? Passive through we are, we refuse to remain silent when the scoundrel of a thief, plays the kingmaker (read Raja).

Dr. Manmohan Singh has been playing his cards efficiently in the recent past, placing his accomplices under his protective care, ensuring robust protection to those who cement his existence the most.

Brand Congress has seen its image tarnished and tattered in the last couple of months. Be it the Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society Scam or the mismanagement at the Commonwealth Games at Delhi; the Congress will find it difficult to resurface to the near-pinnacle location that it had found itself at. With the 2-G scam making a backdoor entry, just at the completion of the games in Delhi, the party has been hit hook-line and sinker.

What would be interesting to the observer is how the chieftain of the herd would retort. Mr. Suresh Kalmadi was sacked under desperate circumstances. Amidst hectic midnight parleys, AK Antony and Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, the loyalist faces of the Congress chose Mr. Prithviraj Chavan as the successor to the beleaguered Mr. Ashok Chavan.
Common logic would suggest – Shouldn’t Raja too get the boot? Why not?

As the entire country looks up to this man, the Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy for his judgment, we simply wonder- is it really arriving at all? This beacon of conscience and principles is caged within the darkness of silence. I allude a line that I recall from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to the predicament that all of us are in -“The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power”.

Must not the ministry be purged of all its inherent evil elements? Has the stability of the ministry become a greater liability to the esteemed Prime Minister of the nation, than the existence of righteousness? He might have made good beginnings by sacking two very prominent officials of the country, but it just wasn’t enough. He must complete what he had set out to resolve.

The Prime Minister is acting right now towards the upcoming Tamil Nadu, as well as the General Elections much ahead. It is a well-thought out act to garner some precious Tamil seats. However, had the country elected the NDA to destroy the present for the benefit of the future? No, we hadn’t. Dr. Singh must come out with a verdict soon.

Let’s discuss the figures to familiarize you with the loss. The country lost crores in revenue, over seven times the amount upon which various agreements were made during President Obama’s visit. The amount was enough to feed the entire country hundreds of times over. Such was the revenue that the 2G auction could have generated. But alas, the king (‘Raja’) had other plans.

Road Sense 101: Road Signs and What They Really Mean


Have a problem perceiving things the right way? Does your mind tell you to do the complete opposite of what you’re told to do? Well worry not then, ‘coz you’re one among the millions of Indians who suffer from the precise same problem and don’t even know about it. A brilliant place to find these geniuses at work is on our very own Indian roads. Highways, main streets, crossroads, level crossings, flyovers, gullies and where not, you’ll always find one of your kind. And that’s uniquely Indian.

Road signs. Meant to guide the driver and to effectively manage traffic without the actual need of a human. More often than not though, Indian drivers mysteriously perceive these road signs as completely different instructions. Let’s have a look at some examples:

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Really Means: Straight prohibited or No Entry

Perceived Meaning: Drive right through, we’ve been expecting you.

Also Perceived as: What? A challenge? I’m going in.

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Really Means: One way sign

Perceived Meaning: See if you can dodge oncoming traffic and wedge your way through. Don’t worry, as long as you’ve got change in your wallet we’ll handle the police.

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Really Means: Pedestrians prohibited

Perceived Meaning: The world is your oyster and nothing’s out of bounds for you! Please feel free to use the street for all purposes that you may require it for. Littering will be appreciated.


Really Means: Left turn prohibited (Another variant is the Right turn prohibited sign)

Perceived Meaning: Free left turn at all times. Do watch out for competing traffic though and do NOT let those bastards past you.

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Really Means: U-Turn prohibited

Perceived Meaning: Don’t take this seriously. It’s an inverted U after all.

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Really Means: Overtaking Prohibited

Perceived Meaning: In case the vehicle ahead is slowing your highness down, mow down the prick and/or make a rude gesture while overtaking him from any direction of your choice.

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Really Means: Horns prohibited

Perceived Meaning: Pump up the volume, pump up the volume!


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Really Means: No Parking

Perceived Meaning: Look around. Do you see anyone else parking here? Yes? Alright go ahead. No? Alright go ahead.

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Really Means: Speed Limit 50 km/h

Perceived Meaning: Don’t drive like a freaking 50 year old. Hit the pedal!

Also Perceived as: Driving below 50 km/h will prove beyond a doubt that you’re a pussy.

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Really Means: Stop
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Perceived Meaning: Random red octagon trying to spoil my driving experience.
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Really Means: Give Way
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Perceived Meaning: Drive defensively taking the inside line. Evade any attempts of tailgating by swearing loudly.
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Really Means: Pedestrian crossing
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Perceived Meaning: Pedestrian challenge ahead. Dodge as many possible for extra points.
Also Perceived as: Zebra crossing is for sissies!
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Really Means: School ahead
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Perceived Meaning: School challenge ahead. Hang around for hot teachers. Make toddlers cry for bonus points.
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Really Means: Cross road
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Perceived Meaning: Cross over to the other side before people from the other three directions get the same idea. Ignore all red lights at all costs.
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Really Means: Gap in median
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Perceived Meaning: Gap too far ahead! Must make my own gap in the median here. Proceed to cut across the median and over to the other side. Act macho afterwards.
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Really Means: Roundabout
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Perceived Meaning: Driving in circles was never productive. Navigate through the traffic in a perfectly straight line.
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Really Means: Barrier ahead
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Perceived Meaning: Barrier to your successful attempt at flouting the rules ahead. Unmount the vehicle and proceed by ducking under the obstruction for a full standing ovation.
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Another name for this post could be Sarcasm 101, as I’ve been told. But you’ve got to admit the fact that some of these made you chuckle (at least some?). If they didn’t then you’re one of the people I’m taking a piss at here (if you’re not, feel free to check out possibly funnier posts on the blog)

10 Perceptions of the Indian Kind


Just a few days away from India’s independence, we witness changes that have sporadically evolved throughout these years. Changes that have been truly dynamic and changes that have definitely shaped the society that we live in today.

We might have evolved socially, economically and are definitely much more tougher inside than we were 63 years ago. But some things still remain as they were.  We apparently forgot to go beyond the full-stop a couple of times. I have compiled a list of 10 such instances. Hope that you agree and inform us of several more.

So here are the top 10 uncanny Perceptions of the Indian Kind.

1) That all Sardars hail from Punjab.
2) That only white-skinned people are foreigners.
3) That Onion and Garlic fall under the category of Non-vegetarian food.
4) That the character of the groom is judged by his educational qualification prior marriage.
5) That heavy discounts put on some products cannot make the product inferior.
6) That the beauty of a place  is judged by the number of tourist spots located there.
7) That the number of children borne is seen as more of a hobby.
8) That one must possess certain electronic equipment despite having any requirement.
9) That the national anthem might just be Vande Mataram.
10) That the end of all education leads to an engineering or a medical college.
I sincerely hope that we can definitely get over these in the next couple of years. Claim as you  strongly might, these social stigma or utter carelessness are much prevalent in our society today.
Jai Hind!  Jai Bharat!