The Sbcltr Mixtape: Volume 9
December 20, 2017
In Conversation with Reema Sengupta
January 5, 2018

2017, the year of the laughing monkeys

Our little rock around the sun has certainly heated up in 2017 and it isn’t entirely global warming, writes Percy Bharucha

There is a paragraph in The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco where two monks argue about laughter, God and Aristotle.

Jorge: Laughter is a devilish wind, which deforms the lineaments of the face and makes men look like monkeys.

William: And yet, Aristotle devoted his second book of poetics to comedy as an instrument of truth.

William: But what is so alarming about laughter?

Jorge: Laughter kills fear and without fear there can’t be any faith. Because without fear of the devil there is no more need of God.

Jorge: No, to be sure. Laughter will remain the common man’s recreation but what would happen if, because of this book learned men work to pronounce it permissible to laugh at everything? Can we laugh at God? The world would relapse into chaos.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that in 2017, the world did relapse into chaos. It is hard to think of a world that has been burnt, flooded, cracked open, windswept, that can only look up to stormy skies to not indulge in levity. We’ve already paid for it in full measure. Laughter has become the common man’s recreation, thanks to Donald Trump, a monster who has single-handedly managed to herd us all into the fields of dark humor under the shade of a tragicomic sun.

Our little rock around the sun has certainly heated up in 2017 and it isn’t entirely global warming, we’ve had the US in open war with the North Korea. In Las Vegas a lone gunman opened fire on a country music concert, injuring more than 500, in what became the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. That and the Manchester arena bombing, well apparently concerts are the new terrorist targets.

And then enter Harvey Weinstein, I never thought someone could beat the Kardashian-Jenner stronghold over the online media but Weinstein managed to do just that. As cascade of allegations broke out against many men, across many areas and suddenly #NotAllMen became #AllTheMaleCelebritiesWellNotAllButCertainlyEnoughToImplyAGeneralMajorityOfThem

Harvey Weinstein

Britain and the EU got into a lovers spat with both of them going, “It’s not you it’s me” after a point, the EU conceded defeat and said, “It was definitely Britain” but like an old married Gujarati couple, they bickered and then stayed together, while contemplating how much the divorce would cost.

Closer home, the Rohingya crisis became the ‘world’s fastest growing refugee crisis’. It’s almost like we have various crises competing against each other to be No. 1. Healthy spirit of competition. Everybody wins. Do you think it’s possible there be some management guy in a team meeting going, “Guys our crises isn’t growing fast enough, those drought guys in Karnataka are going to beat us soon. We need to pick this up, eh. This is a competition guys, who wants to be no 2 huh? You want to be no 2? ‘Cos I didn’t come here and sweat it out, to be no 2! C’mon guys more immigrants, we can do this, we can beat them! Team huddle in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO TEAM CRISIS!”

A local platform in Mumbai had an hour-long stampede with over 22 people killed in Mumbai, offices refused to consider a half day working and people still had to get to work in time. #SpiritOfMumbai #MumbaiNeverSleepsExceptInMorningLocalFromBorivali

In a landmark verdict the Indian Supreme Court ruled that the practice of divorce through triple talaq for Muslims was “void”, “illegal” and “unconstitutional” Bollywood and the Indian TV industry suffered the biggest blow, they are now searching for a substitute cliché.

The government made it mandatory for financial institutions to link the Aadhar of their customers with their accounts. This move led to an unprecedented boom in the call center business. Experts claim banks hiring tele-callers en masse to harass customers might just revive the BPO bubble.

In India, 2017 proved Darwin wrong by implying that, the top of the food chain position belongs to the humble Indian Cow (no pun intended).

Humans were killed over the transport of animal corpses. Read that statement again, as you brew your tea over the fire of your science textbook chapter dealing with evolution. Muslims were lynched by mobs under the suspicion of transporting beef. The act is still not illegal in India but then the last time an Indian mob followed the law was when Nandi mistakenly informed them to eat thrice and bathe once after which he was turned into a bull and sent to plow the fields thus becoming the perfect mate for the divine Indian cow. If you don’t know this story please do not apply for the Aadhar, you non-sanskaari, non-Indian-tradition-believer, scum, you!

The GST bill was introduced and by introduced I mean introduced in the sense one does an ex-lover at a party. Only by name and with little effort to mask the frown of disgust that follows. This move led to the onset of the dark ages within the Indian financial sector, since no one really knew how to do the paperwork, traders slowly realized they could just barter and avoid this money-bill cycle altogether. They extended the Prime Minister’s vision of a cashless India to its fullest potential, that of a money-less India.

Louis CK

The liberal, elite, Indian millennial mourned the loss of Louis CK as their personal favourite comedian to quote at parties. They are still searching for one whose name-dropping will afford them the intellectual tag they so crave. If you’re wondering why this appears in the Indian section of the article is because Louis CK affected more Indian club-goers than he did Americans.

In primate bars meanwhile the conversation goes as, “another typhoon! Another war! These guys at the top are screwing it all up.”
“Bah, humans! This will all be over soon and we’ll all be able to go back to what we truly meant to do, scratch each other’s backs.”
“Damn straight, here toss me another banana and we’ll toast to their premature demise.”

Recently, Vets have been reporting that there seems to be a growing number of chimpanzees affected by a laughter problem, they seem to be laughing for no reason at all and given the context of the world where their habitats are shrinking what could provoke this, apart from an epidemic of sorts.

If there is a God, I am sure she is rolling on heaven’s floor laughing. As the creator of irony, the tragic-comedy of our existence wouldn’t be lost on her. Perhaps Jorge was right, laughter does remove the need for the devil but then we crossed that bridge a long time ago, when we made monsters of our own.

Laughter is the best medicine there is, they say, if so, the question we must ask is, the best medicine for what? Is the illness our inability to follow a moral compass? Is the illness our impotency at being good and decent as a collective?


The author runs a bi-weekly comic strip called The Adult Manual, that can be found here






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