World biz and more as seen from India

Monday, August 29, 2005

Comedy is serious business

There is nothing funny when a standup comedian signs a $50 million deal with Cable Channel. In 2003, Dave Chappelle got paid $50 million for two seasons and the DVD release while our Johnny Lever never graduated to even a fulltime actor status. Don’t get me wrong, I have been to his standup acts and he was amazing. But since then we haven’t had a single actor or performer who wanted to become a comic.

In the US, Comedy central has gained top spots in the cable world and recently it beat all the channels to gain the highest viewership on Sunday, Aug 14th with 4.3 Million people tuning in for the roast of Pamela Anderson by the meanest bunch of stand up comics. Jeff Foxworthy made his money when he quit his IBM job and became a fulltime comedian and sold 14 million copies of his comic album.

I know its all about the TRP and Ad sales but just go back a few years, Indian television had two awesome sitcoms in the form of "Dekh Bhai Dekh" and "Zaban Sambhalke". I am sure those would generate a lot of ad sales even on re-runs. Selling 14 million copies might be a lot an Indian comic but as far as I recollect, “Agri Ramayan” had become immensely popular in Mumbai before it was pulled off the market because it “disrespected our mythology”. Are Indians to uptight to handle a joke that someone could make a business out of it.