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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 Curious Case of the South Indian Thali


It’s 7 am on a lazy Sunday morning. The scent of the early morning mist still lingers in the air as the local newspaper boy does his rounds of the colony on his battered yet endearing bicycle. Distant echoes of street hawkers selling vegetables ring in my ear, but in some way I find it strangely soothing. With last night’s sumptuous meal long digested, my stomach growls as though warning me of a being that has been left unfed. The warm cozy mattress calls out to me like a lost child to its parent. Torn between my desire for sweet slumber and a hot breakfast, I shake myself to consciousness and make an early morning walk to the nearby South Indian restaurant.

Not halfway to the place,  I find the aroma of various delicacies filling my senses as I force my way forward with large strides that would make a soldier proud. I take my usual place at the ratty table on the corner of the rustic yet appealing dining area. Like bees to honey, I find that a bunch of people have now swarmed the place, with intentions very similar to mine. I find it hard to concentrate on the haphazardly prepared menu whose half crumpled portions have been religiously joined time and time again after various careful alterations to the prices. Not minding the utter confusion on that piece of paper, I look at the half disinterested face of the waiter and ask for the South Indian Breakfast Thali. For those of you non-Indians who haven’t heard of the term or those of you Indians who’ve probably been living all their life in a remote cave, a South Indian Thali is a blend of famous South Indian dishes served in a round plate (Thali) with limited attention given to your ability to maneuver over and across them. Astutely designed mini containers line the edge of the stainless steel plate and contain a variety of delightfully rich curries that one would take ages to fully discover and decrypt. A pint sized collection of starters, a main course and dessert are hurriedly assembled together with consummate ease.

I anxiously wait at my table, all the while consoling that beast inside me that now demands evasive action. I can’t help but notice the synchronized orchestra of movements all around me as waiters meticulously carry mouth watering delicacies to the prospective customers. How they nonchalantly appear to carry a humanly impossible number of tumblers and cups of hot tea totally bewilder me. They seem to speak an ancient and extinct language of gestures and hardly plausible, abbreviated sentences with grace and aplomb. Everything seems to be in perfect symmetry in the middle of total randomness as there exists an invisible telepathic network between the various departments of this little production line. The conveyor belt seems to churn out an unending line of well refined products as the demand for them steadily increases through the day. A small wonder in todays age of electronic engagement, yet a wonder to be marveled upon nonetheless.

A Traditional South Indian Vegetarian Lunch Thali

At long last the object of my desire seems to appear over the horizon as the waiter approaches my table with a steaming hot Thali carefully balanced on his superhuman palm. The ever familiar sight greets me as I plan to navigate through the crowd of exotic South Indian treats laid out in front of me. I dig into the traditional “Masala Dosa”, and like a man on a mission I move on with a determination that I hope will quieten the now whimpering beast in me. A few minutes later,  I have accomplished my task as only unrecognizable shards of my indulgence remain on the plate. I finish off the formalities that follow any Indian meal as I sip on a hot cup of tea and ponder over my plans for the predictably uneventful weekend.

As I make my way back to my extraordinarily ordinary life, I admire the beauty of Indian cuisine, the love of which is probably my only claim to being an ethnic Indian. And as the road takes a bend to the right, I have a final glance at the modern day sanctuary of proud South Indians whose food, just like their hospitality, leaves everyone supremely content and longing for more.

Kandisa – Yesterday,Today, Forever


Kandisa

“Kandisa Alahaye, Kandisa Esana Kandisa Alahaye, Kandisa Esana

Aalam Balam Aalam, Aamenu Aamen

Sliha Mar Yose, Almaduba Kudisa

Aangen Dhanusa, Nehave Dukharana


Aalam Balam Aalam, Aamenu Aamen

Sliha Mar Yose, Almaduba Kudisa

Aangen Dhanusa, Nehave Dukharana

Kandisa Alaha, Kandisa Esana,

Kandisa La Ma Yosa Isaraha Malem”

What is fact, is always beyond fiction. What is truth- is beyond resurrection. The pundits today take a surprising spritual turn. Not out of compulsion, or misery,no. It was the omnipresent symphony within the melancholy, the voices – the sheer resplendence within it.

One must have heard of Indian Ocean – a name synonymous with college fests throughout the country. The band has taken the country by storm, and has been riding the waves of fame since the early 1990’s. Their unique blend of rock with indo-centric tunes, give them a very subtle and soulful appeal. I was lured into this song through another album of the “Bandeh” fame.

The jive within their voices made this pundit yearn for more. The next step was procuring the album – Kandisa. I was startled from the early softness and mellowness. The language was Greek to me. But as the saying goes- Music has always triumphed over barriers of language. The percussion followed – very steady, yet soft. The guitars were beyond comprehension – hats off to Susmit Sen and Rahul Ram.

Kandisa was much more than an engineering college fest anthem as I found out after further reading. It is an ancient prayer in Aramic- a language that traces its roots from the Babylonian yore. It kicks off with an invocation to the Strong Powerful one above- at whose feet one falls humbly. This actually lays solid ground to the fact that civilizations have shared an eternal bond with God. He has forever been the powerful one – across all faiths and religions. The prayer proceeds stating that this fact shall forever be in memory. And so it has for thousands of years.

The prayer concludes with a simple invocation of the Holy immortal One to be merciful. The prayer may be a simple invocation. But as humans, i forever wonder as a mute spectator- have we not modified this wisdom to suit our devilish needs. The requirement of a recent Indian film requiring the defence of a certain faith in very fragile fabric of our contemporary, is a brute hypocrisy of how high our society has sunk to has sunk to. Kandisa may be a mere invocation- but the truths that lay interwoven within its syllables- carries its burden of communal tolerance and harmony.

Some have gone on to ridicule Indian Ocean for having defaced the original syllables of the incantation. However, the passive pundits here not only congratulate them but see them as Pundits within their own right. Messengers of God – is what suits them better. Kandisa, just like Aramic might have been reduced to the sands of time. However, its discovery in benevolent tunes – sung to the greater glory of mankind; is what will keep it aliver for eternity.