14 Aug 2014

Eastern Freeway

T-Shirt Reading In Mumbai: Nobody, Somebody, Everybody, Anybody. 

Long before the World Wide Web was world wide, Nobody, Somebody, Everybody and Anybody were popular characters and were part of the jokes that used to travel like wildfire from school to school, office to office, home to home. 

Those were the days when friends would meet,  they would actually ask - have you heard this new joke, one day somebody and nobody... or Knock Knock. Zail Singh was a very popular president and part of daily conversation.

Telling a joke or enacting one was a part of daily life for everybody and nobody loved somebody more when a joke was well told to everybody. 

Jokes travelled at a surprisingly blistering pace even in those days. People would write to and read Readers Digest magazine or the local magazine just to have the pleasure of sharing the jokes. It took effort to share jokes then. I have seen kids huddle around and look at a picture or read a joke on a mobile. Some still read jokes aloud even now. Smokers who huddle around still crack jokes instead of sharing or forwarding it. If you don't smoke or visit bars or coffee shops you could try this. Instead of just forwarding a joke over email, SMS or IMs, maybe we should just call and tell a joke or open conversations with one. 

Until he died at a very young age, Kushwant Singh carried on this tradition of collecting jokes and sharing it with the rest of the country. The readers of the slower and more accurate newspapers that carried his columns will remember. He would also mention the names of the people who sent him jokes. They came from all parts of the country. 

The best narrators of jokes from the old days that I knew became India's best copywriters. They loved cracking jokes while drinking too much and while smoking in bars with a darbar around them of eager "enjoyers" of jokes. They are laughing in heaven now. The best narrators of jokes are our best film writers, actors, politicans. Today in the age of forwards, you can even pay to watch somebody stand up and crack jokes like the Americans do. We all cried inside when Robin Williams died. Robin Williams would not have killed himself if he had someone who would share a joke with him a few days back. The PM of India himself passes off cheap jokes and wordplay as great oratory skills. The Maharaja of the Least Common Denominator's jokes in Gujarati are probably of a better standard because his Hindi and English seems scripted. His opposition is even worse. Imagine Rahul Gandhi trying to crack a joke. Bloody escape velocity of Jupiter.

If you have no one to crack a joke to, you can tweet. Just the right number of characters for everybody, nobody, somebody or anybody can experiment creating instant jokes with. People will want to meet you and listen your jokes one day. 

But most of all I want to meet the people who create the jokes we forward. Tens of jokes pass through everybody's fingers every week. Somebody must be writing them. Anybody who can create them must be fun to listen to.  

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