“Laughter promotes a bond and simultaneously draws a line”
—Konrad Lorenz, On Aggression
If someone were to say that humour and comedy form an integral part of Malayali life, politics and culture, you may be prompted to ask, ‘So what’s unique about that?’. Although a valid question, it would miss the sheer extent and nature of it that’s obvious to those who know it and can compare. Last week, comedian Indrans won the state’s best actor award. In 2010, Salim Kumar, another comedian, got the national award for best actor. That both of them won it, paradoxically, for tragic roles is not the only reason one can say that humour is serious business in Kerala.
Laughter, hilarious and liberating, oftentimes cynical and dark, invariably emerges in all discourses and interactions—they come in umpteen forms: as parodies, double entendres, mimicry, cartooning, spoofing…. Kerala’s folk and...