Starting from stand-up comedians to content makers, everyone is trying their best to entertain the audience while creating awareness about both political and social issues
At a time like this when the whole world is anxious about the coronavirus pandemic, Bangladeshi comedians are coming up with unique ideas and content to entertain the audience while also creating awareness among their fans.
Starting from stand-up comedians to content makers, everyone is trying their best to entertain the audience while creating awareness about both political and social issues.
To find out more, The Business Standard team decided to interview the entertainers who are providing us a dose of laughter despite the shutdown.
Ahmad Ashik, a stand-up comedian, been active throughout the shutdown. The man who has gained popularity for doing a rap in the 'AHA- Anti Harassment song' and for doing a spoof of "Money Heist" decided to come up with a fun idea to entertain the audience through 'Jus Lyk a Podcast.'
"Jus lyk a Podcast' was a passion project for Amin and myself purely for our own amusement. Since we can't get on stage we decided to finally start this podcast with zero expectations. A lot of people are doing interviews that seem so formal or let's say politically correct. We decided to have conversations with people from different professions and still be comedians," Ashik explained.
When we asked Ashik about how he felt about the cancellation of comedy shows. He wittily replied that "I don't want to die so it's ok to be home for now."
Ashik's 'Jus Lyk a Podcast' and his 'Money heist' spoof are favourite among his fans. We asked the man himself as to what his favourite podcast episode is and what are his upcoming plans to entertain the audience?
"Jus Lyk A Podcast being popular is something that I am even surprised to hear. I believe where Ishfaque, Amin and I tried to make sense of the Rayhan Vai epidemic gained popularity and also the one where we spoke to a doctor regarding the pandemic."
"It's awesome that the Money Heist spoof became viral. We like to keep it fresh and not repeat ourselves but we are planning to make content that will probably anger some and bring entertainment for others. Considering the current situation making a video has become very difficult but we are bored and ambitious at the same time," he added.
Ashik explained how he's keeping himself busy during this shutdown with his usual dash of humour: "I am actually working from home, helping with household chores and occasionally contemplating the mistakes I made in my life. So basically busy during the day and full of regret at night (laughs)."
As a stand-up comedian, Ashik would however want his fans to come to their live-shows when the pandemic is finally over.
Farhana Muna or Munatic has been making funny content since 2014. Currently residing in Australia, the young mother is a vehement advocate for mental health and is intent on talking about mental health through comedy as a medium.
"Humour as always been my coping mechanism of choice (besides chocolate of course!) and as we are collectively navigating a global crisis, the appetite for a comic escape has also increased. Also, during this shutdown, I'm observing a surge of creative content. People are taking to social media even more to connect through their hobbies and passions - there's also a more relaxed attitude towards content, we all just want to create and stay connected - this has been great in terms of taking the pressure off and creating for the joy of it." Muna added.
Farhana was a part of skit with UN Women 'Famdemic' where she talked about the importance of staying united during the Covid-19 pandemic with a cast from six different countries.
Muna's 'Mother's Day Special' video has gathered more than 230K views on Facebook in 24 hours and it addresses the pressure and load many women carry to attain unrealistic standards of perfection.
Her latest passion project is '#Aarna', a series of live panels to discuss and raise awareness on domestic violence.
When we asked Muna how the comedy scene is different in Australia compared to Bangladesh?
The comedian replied, "There is space for a great variety of comedy in Bangladesh and we truly do have a lot of potential talent. I feel in Australia there's a lot more leniency in addressing taboo topics such as politics, racism, sexism etc... For the Bangladeshi audience, our religious and cultural sentiments and political considerations have a significant impact on the content we are at liberty of producing. We are still largely conservative but I'm hoping as more comedians come into the scene we will evolve as an audience too."
On being asked about her challenges as a female comedian, Muna replied "I think just being a female on social media itself can be a challenge! From meaningless trolling comments, to sexist slur, and disturbing rape comments – you have to power through them all. Furthermore, I feel male comedians can perhaps get away with stronger language than female content creators. Females are held to a different set of standards everywhere, comedy and social media are no different."
The shutdown might mean rest for others but for Muna she has her hands full: "I am a full time working single mother to a 2.5 year old girl who has my genes. Need I say more?"
As a message to her fans she expresses her gratitude to all of them and tells them to be kind to others.
Ishfaque Kamal, a stand-up comedian and a content-maker is quite famous for his character 'Bablu' from Daekho and for his Facebook page 'Faque My Life'. The comedian is currently in the UK studying law but he is still actively posting content for his fans.
"Comedy has been my escape, whenever I am under a lot of stress. I end up doing small videos to gain back energy. During the lockdown, I wanted to avoid jokes about corona and concentrated my content on world events and recent trends. For example, I made a video about (Donald) Trump and how he made a deal of $69 million for ventilators to an engineer with no background in medical supplies. This video got 170 shares and was appreciated by all."
People have always wondered why the comedian named his page 'Faque My Life' to which Ishfaque replied, "People might get offended but this name is the only thing that resonates with me. I like making people laugh and I will stick to that. I did ask my fans whether I should change the name and they told me that it should remain as it is."
Ishfaque believes that every comedian needs to have his own voice and he encourages young content makers. Whenever he sees a good content, he knocks them and gives them pointers as to how they can make it even better.
We asked him, with budding talents and active content makers why the comedy scene in Bangladesh is still not that exposed.
He replied, "If you compare the situation with India, you will get to see that the stand-up comedians are doing so well. Nobody is dragging them down, as a content-maker we should inspire others to make good content. Then there are pages who steal content from the content-makers' page to generate more likes and shares. For example, my content about an Indian crossdresser got more views and shares from other pages compared to my post. "
Ishfaque actively interacts with his fans on Instagram on Thursday and Sunday. On Thursdays he has a question and answer session with his fans while on Sunday he plays a game where he has to answer with lies.
The comedian is really close with his fans. "I have been doing this for the last two years and I almost know the names of people who love me. People ask me for life advice. There was this one boy who was deeply frustrated about staying in quarantine. At first I cracked a joke and then I told him that a person's most expensive treasure is time and we need to utilise each and every second of it. And it worked for him. If I am able to make even a small change in their lives, then that's a lot for me."
Ishfaque wants his fans to follow their dreams no matter: "If you have it in you then you need to prove people wrong by following your own path."
Pari Rukh Al Matin
Pari Rukh is not only known as a radio jockey but also popular for making social media content on her Facebook page, 'Unofficial Common Sense By Pari'. The female comedian uses her immaculate sense of humour and facial expression to convey hilarious content as well as raise awareness against domestic violence.
With comedy as a whole still being new ground in Bangladesh and for a female comedian it can be especially difficult to survive.
"Being a female comedian and in a conservative as well as a patriarchal country like Bangladesh, it is very hard to please and satisfy the audience. Moreover, the picture of a woman in our head is generalised. Most of us find women are only great when they speak less, cook well, shy, and vulnerable. Most of us find difficulties to accept the different version of a woman, if it is a comedian then it's very hard. When you compare a page of a female comedian versus a male one, you will find the woman comedian's comment sections are comparatively more abusive. So yes, I do face challenges, however I believe things are changing and a better future is coming," she added
Apart from being a comedian, Pari uses her content to emphasise on more critical issues such as domestic violence.
"I have an organisation named 'Alo Chaya' which solely works on mental health of women. So my next posts will be related to mental health and safety. If you go through the newspaper and the internet you will see the rate of domestic violence has significantly increased. Also, my inbox is flooded with the stories of vulnerable women. So my next video will focus on women's mental health and hopefully it can boost up their self-confidence."
Being a radio jockey and working as a legal executive in Rangs Properties Ltd. Pari had to work all seven days in a week but due to the shutdown she gets to spend precious time with her family and connect with her friends virtually.
As a special message to her fans, she thanked them and asked them for their invaluable feedback so that she can improve. Pari emphasised on the importance of handwashing and staying at home as much as possible.