New Delhi: Dubai-based Indian stand-up comedian Miqdaad Dohadwala says cracking jokes before crowds in the emirate is not much of a hassle if you follow two simple rules: Never joke about the Kingdom, and never joke about the locals.
“We need to be sensitive towards people’s sentiments. Making fun of the Kingdom and the locals are a complete no,” Dohadwala shared.
The artiste, who moved from Mumbai to Dubai in 2014, insists the scene is otherwise no different from India. “Stand-up comedy in Dubai is the same as India,” he said, adding that while performing in Dubai he comes across a varied set of people while in India one can strike a common ground.
“You could be on stage for our very own ‘desi’ crowd on one night and a whole troupe of Ukranians on another. That is the reason why the material that you have should transcend cultural barriers to connect with people. In India, we can localise the content because the audience tends to relate on a common ground. It is easier to explore the details of the diversified Indian experience,” he added.
Dohadwala feels strongly about the arrest of fellow humorist Munawar Faruqui. Calling it unfortunate, he says the intent of comedians is never in the wrong, and that they never want to hurt sentiments. Stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui was arrested on January 1 for allegedly “hurting religious sentiments” at a show in Indore.
“What is happening to Munawar is really unfortunate. Comedians shouldn’t be censored in an ideal world. Our intent is never in the wrong, we don’t want to hurt sentiments at all,” Dohadwala said.
“Due to the constant fear of reprisal, of social media backlash, of trolls and some comedians, including myself, we do tone down our sets. It is even more cumbersome for me as I live in a different country.
But the fact that we have to alter our material due to suit all this, is disheartening. It is a limitation on art, which should never be the case. However, we do it because, honestly speaking, there are times when it is just not worth it. I look forward to a day when we need not hold back our artistic freedom because of reasons like these,” added Dohadwala, who is currently in Mumbai for performances.