I should warn you now I am going to act like one of those females who spend their evenings watching the soap opera's and then spend the next day discussing the characters of the soaps like they are real people. I am only going to discuss the reality shows and people in them are real appearing in their own person, so I think I am more justified. Oh god no, no, no, no, I don't mean "reality shows" I mean these talent shows where comedians come on stage and make audience laugh. The reality shows? Ugh! I maintain that the sure sign of the decline of our culture is the popularity of those reality shows. But that story some other time.
The first thing I want to say is that I don't like Comedy Circus, never liked it from the beginning. But I watch every episode and even re-watch some of them or part of them later. Contradiction? Well, I am a complex human being, baby!
It was several years ago when my nephew told me about Comedy Circus and I told him I didn't like it. I preferred The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. I had bought several DVDs of TGILC because I loved it so much. Now that I am a regular viewer of Comedy Circus I still say I don't like it, and now I am going to dissect it and explain why it is so.
Some people say that humour should not be analysed and something is either funny or it is not. They are idiots. Comedy is an art but not a mindless art, like any art form it has its principles and like anything else humour can be studied and developed. Note that I said humour can be developed not sense of humour.
At this point I should clarify how I judge if someone has a good sense of humour or not. It's very simple. If they laugh at my jokes, they have a good sense of humour. There is no other definition.
The biggest, most glaring difference between TGILC and CC is the format. TGILC has a very simple format, one comedian or (rarely) a team of two, one microphone, 2 or 3 judges (2 regular plus guests sometimes). That's it. Oh, and a beautiful anchor. But both shows have that. Plus the team of musicians also is common in both.
CC's format is more complex - a writing team, teams of 2 or 3 comedians, an elaborate script, props, sets for the acts and some judges (2 or 3 regular and then guests).
So why I think CC's brand of humour is inferior to TGILC? Various reasons.
1. In CC's format it's easier to do comedy because there are other comedians in your team to help out and give you cues, there is a creative team to write your scripts, there are lot of props and sets to help you create that scene, and overall setup of the show persists from week to week and a lot of jokes are created around that.
In TGILC, it was usually one comedian, coming with his own material and performing in front of the audience and judges. Those who have stood behind a microphone (I have) know how terrifying it can be. But there were some really talented people who created such amazing performances with only their words to create the scene. Some of those performances were really memorable, while unavoidably there were weak performances as well.
2. CC's brand of humour is cheap and is tailored to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Not all of it is like that but there was a touch of class in TGILC humour which is missing here.
In the material itself there is an abundance of scatological humour, innuendoes, slapstick and other off-colour material. I believe that the TGILC material was censored better.
Many times, the CC writers and artists try to get away with just making jokes on other artists, Surinder and the judges. Personal jokes while they are funny are also dangerous because if you are not careful they can become cheap, offensive and not funny. This has happened many times in CC.
In CC the performances tend to favour more slipstick humour and a colour of "nautanki" than a refined TV show. Those who have seen a real "nautanki" in Indian villages will understand this, there is no other way for me to explain it. Well, they call themselves Comedy "Circus" I think that's justified.
3. There is also more evident commercialism. Nobody ever came to TGILC to promote their film as far as I know. Some of these guests who come to promote their film in CC, sometimes add a star value to the show, most times they are just parasitic waste, taking time for no good reason.
4. The nautanki flavour is also enhanced by other factors like adding song and dances to the acts and sometimes between the acts as well (in grand finales mostly).
5. Scoring of course is subjective in such shows but I am more dissatisfied by the scoring in CC mostly.
But there are good things in the show which I do like. For example the talent. And here my first point is vindicated by examples. The man, or girl, who can stand in front of a mic alone and give a good performance (like in TGILC) is a good comedian. Some of these have come to Comedy Circus from TGILC. Examples include Kapil Sharma, Sudesh Lehri, Bharti Singh, Sugandha, Rajeev Thakur, Kuldeep Dubey etc. There are some new talents also that have come and gone only in CC like Mantra, Shweta Tiwari, etc.
Most people will notice one name I didn't mention here. Krishna. That's because I don't like him. I don't consider him a good comedian. I think he survives only because he has a good screen presence and he has Sudesh with him. I find his brand of comedy very cheap and third class appealing to the lower classes.
Another good thing in CC is that they make fun of everything including especially their own surroundings. These jokes when written and performed properly are very good.
They use all kinds of formulas like themed shows, introducing celebrities, singers and soap actors in their shows to create humour. Some of it is very good.
I like the judges as well mostly. Archana Puran Singh laughs like a mad woman, but that's what comedy is for. Since she has done many successful comic roles (remember Miss Brigenza?) in Hindi films, I think she's justified in judging a comedy show even though I don't always agree with her scores. And I salute her sporting spirit that she can take so many jokes on herself, even when some of them are in poor taste. And she looks good. Yes, I said that.
Oh that reminds me. The beautiful girls on stage, as part of the teams or the anchors, I like them as well, when they are good.
In conclusion, I would say the format itself is good but it needs better control over content and class. It's been slipping lately, even more than before.
Hey, this is fun! Maybe I'll write more posts on Comedy Circus later. After all, this is the only Indian TV show that I watch.