The Performance Of Being Honest

There was a major momentous moment in my life about a month ago. I told my parents the truth about my dabbling in standup comedy. Of course, in an age where pop-culture has convinced us that coming out of the closet to your parents wins the “Moment That Deserves The Most Dramatic Music” award, my moment compared to that isn’t as dramatic. But compared to coming out of the closet, my moment of honesty, was at least a  Liam Hemsworth:Chris Hemsworth and less a Rohan Gavaskar: Sunil Gavaskar (His name is Rahul. Ok no. It’s Rohan. Or, is it? But you get the point!)

You may be wondering, what shady shenanigans my parents thought I was up to all the while (nearly eight months since graduation). Well, suit up ladies and gentlemen and non-conformists to the gender binary, IT’S STORY TIME!


Flashback sequence on!

Ba Duhm Tsh!!!

You see, back in the days of being a Padma Shree recipient for Excellence and leaving behind a large body of work in the field of Professional Idiocy, (a.k.a childhood and teens), I had my own “childhood dream” that I was sure was going to be my source of happiness. I had the ambition of being a Telugu film maker. It was only when I tried to poke into those circles that I realized I had long moved beyond my childhood dream and that I, for too long, had romanticized the idea of following a boyhood passion. Not that I think I am superior to Telugu films in any way. I know nothing makes me laugh harder than the goofball Telugu comedies I consumed like a frustrated investment banker at a buffet of free alcohol and recreational drugs. But still, I didn’t enjoy the process or the company. The bubble of a romanticized childhood dream was burst by the universe. (Yes, I’ve seen Tamasha and 3 Idiots. Nope, all childhood dreams are not meaningful! Somewhere in Bombay as that statement echoes through the time-space continuum a weeping Imtiaz Ali is given a group jaadu ki jhappi by Aamir Khan and Raju Hirani).

And then, an art form that I learned to watch and appreciate during the many nights in college, which otherwise were being spent over-thinking the chocolate ice cream out of love, love life and the Proletariat revolution, came to mind – standup comedy. I wanted to give it a shot before migrating for a Masters education in Rebels with Failed Causes in the London School of Confusion (LSE for over thinkers. Especially for all the times I’ve thought, is it LSC or LSE? Or are we all saying LAC really fast? I digress!)

With not much to do in a new city nor too many familiar faces, standup comedy happened. And of course it was still not a happily ever after and it’s probably going to be tougher now than ever but there was marginal closure to that problem (Will someone please check on Imtiaz Ali? He’s probably committed suicide by now.)

While the “what-to-do” was solved, temporarily at least, the how-do-you-tell-parents had just opened up. How do you explain standup comedy to Telugu parents who grew up in a different sort of India and with a radically distinct cultural baggage altogether?

*me after poetically explaining the art and history of standup comedy*

Parents: So you do mimicry in Telugu?

Me: No no! Not in Telugu. It’s in English.

Parents: So you imitate Hollywood actors?

Me: No. I don’t imitate anyone. I just talk and people are supposed to laugh.

Parents: Are you going to come in drag on Kapil Sharma’s new show?

I still think the worst part is, they will be sweet enough and try to show me off to other parents even if they think standup comedy is me doing mimicry of Bollywood celebrities on Colors TV.

Non-my-Parents: (showing off their son) This is our male offspring who was birthed after we sacrificed his grandmother to the god of fertility. After pursuing a Masters in a University founded by White people in the Whitest town in Whiteland he works at a multinational company where he is a revered demigod whose sperm is so powerful that his male genital organ has an underground cult following where it is called Magic Mike. What does yours do?

My Parents: Standup comedy.

Non-my-Parents: Speak, jester! Tell us two jokes and we shall pay you handsomely in buffaloes.

But after much over-thinking and Vedic Mathematics I did tell my parents about pursuing standup comedy. And contrary to the banishment and exile that I was expecting (I am not being over dramatic, it’s just that I already told them about wanting to become a part-time house husband. Read Dropping The H-Bomb), they were actually really happy and surprisingly supportive. And I know I should get killed for over-thinking a reasonably sappy moment, but I think they were actually glad that I didn’t end up in a B Grade Telugu soft porn film. Imagine finding out from  a dim-witted cousin, in haste to make fun of me but foolish enough to reveal his choice in erotica!

And that was that. Thus another chapter in the constant misadventures of a bumbling Mukthegaul came to a close. (Sorry that last bit of mush was just to give some oxygen to a dying Imtiaz Ali. I swear!)

Trombone Music.

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Ba Duhm Tsh!