Laughing Our Way Around the World

Laughing Our Way Around the World

Why you should care

Because laughter is the best medicine. And this medicine has spice and flavor all its own. 

Third-World Funnies

Quick, name a stand-up comic from anywhere in the world outside America or the U.K. Not so easy, is it? Down through the decades, comedy has usually done more to stereotype the rest of the world than to help us understand it. A new documentary aims to change that. Stand Up Planet points the way toward a transnational future for what is, after all, the most low-tech art form there is. The ingratiating Los Angeles-based comic Hasan Minhaj is sent abroad to meet some refreshingly un-careerist young stand-up pioneers — Mpho Popps from South Africa and Aditi Mittal in Mumbai. Those places aren’t commonly thought of as laugh riots, but that’s part of the point. If the Jews and the Irish are funny because they’ve suffered so much, as we’re regularly reminded, then the Third World ought to be hysterical. Maybe comedy can save us. Read the story here.

Laughs Out of Africa

These gags can definitely shock first-world audiences: When the punch line and the point (e.g., tackling the “poverty industry”) converge in laughs, it can get a little uncomfortable. Though she’s British, Jane Bussmann — a fast-talking, constantly working comedian whose sentences are thick with jokes, foul words and metaphors so extended you wonder if she’s lost the thread — has lived in Kenya for the past few years and has been a prominent, if thoroughly unconventional, aid critic for longer. Her book, The Worst Date Ever, Or How It Took a Comedy Writer to Expose Africa’s Secret War, describes how she set off to woo a hunky American human rights activist, was dissed and more or less stumbled into an investigation of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Africa. Read the story here.

Sassy Comedy From India

This group of Indian comedians isn’t afraid to piss off Mummy and Daddy. India’s newest, sassiest comedy group isn’t afraid to tackle the big stuff. All India Bakchod (pronounced buck-chothe ) loosely translates to “senseless fuckers,” and that’s just one of the many irreverent phrases these guys say that you’d never hear on Indian TV (where censorship sometimes renders the otherwise hilarious absurd). Which makes the daring, flip-the-birdie attitude of this comedy collective all the more surprising — and sensational. Like Jon Stewart, however, AIB trades in aggressively relevant, often intellectual, material. They’ve got plenty to say — in Hinglish — a bout Nietzsche, politics, cricket fandom and classic comedic parodies. Check them out and decide for yourself, but we think these senseless fuckers are the smartest, most hilarious proof that something new is brewing in India. And it ain’t chai. Read the story here.

The French Jerry Seinfeld

The next time you laugh this hard at a Jewish-Moroccan French comic will probably be the first time. And that first time will likely be courtesy of a one Mr. Gad Elmaleh. First coming to our attention voicing the animated Jerry Seinfeld’s character in the Bee Movie franchise , Elmaleh’s actually been called “the French Jerry Seinfeld.” With a straight face. Bu t getting a gander at his stand-up, IN French, you get it immediately. The rhythm, the syntactical stutter. Seinfeld-esque. Add this to the over-30-flick film career, films with Woody Allen, Al Pacino, a comic song, a mastery of Arabic, Hebrew, French and English and a marriage to (and a son with) Charlotte Casiraghi, daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco, and you have a life that thus far could handily be described as The Shit. Read the story here.

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