Jokes are a staple on our social networks – it used to be text messages or email, now it is Whatsapp that leads the charge of circulating jokes. We are no longer content with Santa-Banta jokes. These are new joke trends: jokes appear in series form or joke cycles; jokes aimed at celebs, at politicians and even jokes that satirise or make light of current issues.
Consider how Nirupa Roy is the archetypal mother – Mere paas maa hai, that iconic line from Deewar has spawned a multitude of jokes:
Nirupa Roy is brand Ambassador for all sewing machines in India.
Each film of Neil Nitin Mukesh is considered a trilogy automatically
Arvind Kejriwal filed bribery case against shopkeeper who mistakenly returned him Rs 10 extra
Alok Nath has requested for an ‘Aashirwad’ button on Twitter and a “Saubhagyawati Raho” button on Facebook.
Then there is the Chuck Norris style of Rajinikanth jokes – the ones that give Rajini superhuman powers and impossible abilities. And as for the Rahul Gandhi jokes, well that would be the publicity and marketing machinery of NaMo having a field day; following the RG interview they must have rubbed their hands in anticipation and glee!
So what is it that causes these jokes to start? What is it that so catches people’s fancy that the more jokes get made on the same subject, and then some more and then entire collections go viral. What causes joke cycles?
Jokes reflect celebrity stereotypes
Take Rajinikanth jokes for instance – they are perhaps a spontaneous result of the immense love people have for this movie star as well as a tongue in cheek allusion to the actor’s outrageous stunts in his films. Nirupa Roy is the archetypal ever-suffering, poor widowed mother of Hindi films and the many roles that she has done in films, lend themselves rather naturally to jokes. Alok Nath is rather like the male counterpoint to the Nirupa Roy jokes. Neil Nitin Mukesh chose to go with three first names instead of a name and surname and so his unusual name spawned a series of triangle, trilogy and trio jokes.
Jokes reflect societal/political trends
Then of course we have the political jokes. Arvind Kejriwal’s personality, his steadfastness and even his intractable cussedness lend themselves beautifully to jokes. For a while, the #YoKejriwalSoHonest hashtag was trending on Twitter and a veritable deluge of witticism emerged from this. Then it was Kejriwal’s trademark muffler that triggered a bunch of cartoons and jokes to emerge.
Now jokes are part of an organised marketing strategy
It isn’t just jokes that portray Rahul Gandhi is poor light – as an ineffectual duffer and a mama’s boy. Product marketers have also realized that there is nothing better than to create something funny and complimentary about a product and simply leave it to social media to do the rest.
Note the popularity of Nutella jokes and cartoons – the nutty sweet treat in a bottle has become hugely popular in India as well – so you and I may be inclined to pass on a little picture of Nutella with the words “Who says you can’t buy happiness” or similar. It’s a advertiser or marketer’s dream where the campaign for their product goes viral.
Our jokes are often a reaction
The marketing machinery of the BJP and their Prime Ministerial candidate notwithstanding, jokes are often a spontaneous expression of people’s feelings. They have a ripple effect where one gag leads to another and that inspires yet more. Jokes are social satire; they are a funny way to express feelings of disgust, angst, appreciation and more.
The many hundreds of Rajnikanth jokes floating around are just Indian versions of Chuck Norris jokes – they’ve been duly Indianised of course; they have been elevated a notch or two as well. The Rajini jokes are bigger, better, stronger; but they are essentially Chuck Norris jokes.
Jokes are sometimes a reaction to tragedy – they maybe a coping mechanism but at times they are simply bad taste. Witness the joke cycles that followed the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster or the spate of sick jokes that followed the death of celebrities such as Princess Diana or Michael Jackson – experts hypothesise that these jokes are sometimes a reaction to social and culture anxiety.
And here’s the latest – it’s a reaction to the great modern mystery of recent times; the disappearance of the Malaysian flight no MH 370 :
Ok Rajinikanth… Enough! Now tell us where the plane is
By – Reena Daruwalla
videos courtesy – AT Films alagaesian23894