{First Published in The Hindu Metroplus}

In the year 2013, Cyrus Broacha, one time MTV video jockey and presently, host of the satire news show, The Week That Wasn’t, took on the topic of our current Chief Minister. The episode revolved around her barring Sri Lankan cricketers from playing in the IPL matches in Chennai, and given that it was a news satire show, many jokes were made and it was an entertaining episode overall. Unfortunately for the show’s writers, and for Cyrus, the CM wasn’t amused, and soon enough, they found themselves facing a lawsuit for Criminal Defamation Charges from the Tamil Nadu State Government.
The show’s writers and Cyrus apologised profusely, of course and the case disappeared, but this isn’t the first time that legal action is being taken against remarks that have been made on television. We are a nation that thrives on outrage, to the point where I can actually picture outraging being introduced as an elective in colleges, or as a professional course. While we enjoy laughing at other’s, we seem incapable of laughing at ourselves.
In the other end of the world, John Oliver hosts a show called The Last Week Tonight on HBO, which is now popular all around the world for the carefully researched, (mostly) political insights that he delivers with razor sharp humour. Oliver leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of the perfect political joke – anything and everything that can be made fun of, is, and no politician or any important figure for that matter, is too big to mess with. Every time I watch that show I wonder, when will India get the John Oliver that it deserves? After all, the politics in our country has enough and more material for satire (if not actually resembling satire), but every time I do, I remember television hosts and writers being sued for their opinions, and consequently I get my answer.
If you’ve also been having the same question as I’ve been the last couple of years, then I am here to tell you that all hope is not lost! All India Bakchod, the stand up comedy outfit which was started by four of India’s leading comedians – Tanmay Bhat, Gursimran Khamba, Rohan Joshi and Ashish Shakya (who was incidentally, one of the writers on that The Week That Wasn’t episode), have come out with On Air With AIB, a comedy meets news show which airs in two languages, Hindi and English, and over two mediums – online, and on air. The first episode titled “Why Be Good” released this Thursday.
Running for about twenty five minutes, “Why Be Good”, doused in the clever humour that AIB famous for, discusses the difficulties of being a whistleblower in India, and reveals the shocking safety measures and complete lack of witness protection in our country. A second watch (yes, I watched it twice) reveals the careful research that has gone in to presenting the programme. As corny as this sounds, the episode made me think almost as hard as it made me laugh. There were also a few extra segments, like “International News”, which talked about Benjamin Netanyahu’s comment on how it was a Palestine leader, Al-Husseini who was responsible for the sparking the idea of the Holocaust to Hitler, after which the German Chancellor Angela Merkel released a statement saying that Germany accepted this crime against humanity as their very own. “Germany, just reminded a Jew to be sensitive about the holocaust!” quips Rohan Joshi as the audience bursts into laughter.
I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and I cannot wait for the next nine episodes of this season to come out. Is On Air With AIB, India’s answer to The Last Week Tonight? I can’t say, but it sure as hell is a good start.

{On Air With AIB is presently telecast on Star World. Alternatively, you can watch it online on HotStar}

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