Tanmay Bhat's Sachin-Lata joke is a classic example of how content on Internet is taken out of context

FP Staff

May,30 2016 14:06 32 IST

Comedian Sapan Verma can’t believe that Tanmay Bhat’s Snapchat joke on Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar has become national news.

“It’s also about the kind of platform the joke was made on,” said Sapan, in a conversation with Firstpost. “Firstly, very few people use Snapchat here. Secondly, the issue has just snowballed and the outrage over the joke is now out of all proportion (to the content).”

Sapan says that the real issue is that Tanmay Bhat’s joke has been taken out of context — an issue he says comedians often face when their routines are posted on the Internet.

“On the Internet, a lot of things get taken out of context. He’s been doing this Sachin filter on Snapchat for a couple of weeks now where he says these silly things. It’s like a silly character he inhabits; just as all comedians do. But for someone who has only seen the 10-second clip that has gone viral, they don’t have that context. It happens with my jokes as well. In the live setting, people get it, but the moment it goes on the Net, it gets taken out of context.”

Tanmay Bhat's Snapchat joke on Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar has snowballed into a major controversy

Tanmay Bhat's Snapchat joke on Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar has snowballed into a major controversy

Sapan also takes issue with the way — what is, all said and done — a joke has been politicised.

“A sense of humour is a very personal thing. We may not find the same things funny. And it’s perfectly fine to criticise or comment on a joke you didn’t like. But the minute you bring politicians into it and legality into it, that’s wrong. Today, you’ll tell me don’t joke about Lata Mangeshkar or Sachin Tendulkar. Tomorrow, you’ll say don’t joke about Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan! A conversation or a dialogue is fine, but the minute you threaten someone with police action, and file FIRs, it’s not,” he said.

Sapan Verma

Sapan Verma

But isn’t there such a thing as taking a joke too far? Sapan refers to something Jon Stewart said previously and wonders: “Why is it that it is only comedians who are asked ‘where should the line be drawn’ (when making a joke?) Why doesn’t anybody ask that of a politician?”

For himself, Sapan says he has a simple rule: If more people enjoy his jokes rather than being offended by them, he’s on the right track. If the reverse is the case, then he knows he needs to work on his material.

But he certainly doesn’t treat any subjects or personalities as too sacred to joke about. “In live comedy, people come to your shows with a certain attitude, so I don’t have to think twice before making any jokes,” he says. “But that’s not the case when I put content out on the Internet. I do think twice (then). Content going on the Net is always scrutinised.”

Also read: Comedian Sorabh Pant to Firstpost on the controversy — 'The outrage is exhausting'