Stand-Up: The "Comic" Public Sphere in India

Rashi Bhargava, Samarth Singhal


Comic performances might take a subversive form, especially in an autocratic regime where used as an instrument of expression by the oppressed, the silenced, the unseen, and the unheard, thereby offering a political critique of the state, economy, and systemic failures. This article discusses the ability of contemporary Indian stand-up comic performances to undermine hegemony. The article begins with a theoretical evaluation of the comic in the public sphere, moves to a brief survey of South Asian forms of comic performances, and links these concerns to performances by two contemporary comedy collectives, Aisi Taisi Democracy (ATD) and East India Comedy (EIC). The article then concludes with the possible complications of ATD and EIC’s contribution to a robust public sphere.


stand-up comedy, comic, India, satire, political critique, public sphere

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