A while ago, I discovered that my style of comedy – and even comic writing – tends to be so deadpan as to leave most people in doubt over whether I am serious or not. Often, I am not entirely sure myself.
Several times, I have had to kill one of my own jokes in the interest of saving a tedious acquaintanceship. Eventually, I realised that I was looking through the wrong end of the tunnel.
Women ought to be given special treatment for generally existing
As someone who holds views that are perceived as contrarian, but which really boil down to a matter of convenience – such as the idea that women ought to be given special treatment for generally existing – it is incredibly easy for me to end meandering conversations to which I am regularly subjected.
Like most superpowers, I discovered mine by serendipity.
“It is most natural for two women to discuss the men in their lives”
I found myself in a group of playwrights. I hadn’t realised they were all feminists. I usually don’t. So, we were asked to put our plays through the Bechdel test – which rates films or plays based on the presence of two or more women who speak to each other about something other than men. The test doesn’t mention makeup, as far as I know, or children.
Being rather more partial to the sound of my own voice than anyone else’s – with the possible exception of Benedict Cumberbatch, who was not at the table at the time – I said, “When two women get together, it is most natural for them to discuss the men in their lives. And once they start, they rarely talk about anything else.”
The other women at the table burst into a hiss of righteous anger, scaring away the unfortunate lone gentleman among us. Apparently, none of the others discussed her partner with any of her female friends. One left the table in her fury, and the others looked at me with the expression usually reserved for the moment when I declare myself vegetarian.
When I was recounting this to another gentleman I know, he asked whether all these women were happily married. I replied, “Sadly, there’s no way we’ll ever know, because they never talk about their husbands.”
“James Bond shouldn’t be henpecked”
I decided to push the envelope a little further the next time I found myself among a group of aspiring activists.
Like most people of suitable sexual orientation, I endured the film version of The English Patient chiefly because of Ralph Fiennes, who contrived to look sexy even when most of his skin had peeled off. My delight at his taking over as M was only partially adulterated by my love for action bromance.
However, the most effective way to annoy aspiring activists is to say that M ought not to have been a woman, “because James Bond shouldn’t be, you know, henpecked.”
“I haven’t heard of Khaled Hosseini. Is he a singer?”
Worldwide, there is an entire generation of readers who aren’t sure of the difference between Paulo Coelho and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Even more unfortunately, before the likes of Chetan Bhagat broke all rules of grammar, everyone writing from the subcontinent was perceived as a literary figure.
Nothing gives me more pleasure than pretending I don’t know who Khaled Hosseini is, when people ask me whether I liked The Kite Runner.
“What is that?”
“The Kite Runner! I mean…THE KITE RUNNER. Khaled Hosseini.”
“I haven’t heard of him. Is he a singer?”
“I have a medical condition which makes it difficult for me to get married”
Since I turned twelve, some of my relatives have been planning my wedding. In the intervening years, several have successfully turned their daughters into dumpier, whinier versions of themselves.
And so it happened that, a few days ago, one of my cousins asked me, “So, listen, when are you going to get married?”
“Around the time you lose weight, I guess.”
“You know I have a medical condition which makes it difficult for me to lose weight.”
Yeah, it’s called ‘gluttony’. “And I have a medical condition which makes it difficult for me to get married?”
“Oh! Really?” the cousin leans forward eagerly.
“Yeah. High IQ.”
“My idea of the perfect thriller drama is Homeland”
For the longest time, I wanted to tell someone from Kazakhstan that my favourite film is Borat. I succeeded three years ago.
Homeland’s new season appears to have Pakistan confused with Yemen
Ever since Homeland launched its new season, which appears to have Pakistan confused with Yemen, I’ve begun to believe that this one drama is more likely to precipitate a diplomatic crisis between Pakistan and America than any militant group ever was.
And, so, I’ve decided that the next Aman ki Asha type peacenik venture could do with this icebreaker: “My idea of the perfect thriller drama is Homeland.” And it is somehow poetic that the first episode had one of the characters searching for his ma-behn.