Decoding AIB: One joke, one step at a time

They will make you scream with laughter, they will tickle your funny bones and they are unapologetically abashful and equally insane too. They are brutally honest and they are here to stay. Meet the most popular comedy group comprising of the edgiest members who are equally loved and detested too. AIB is one of the premier and most established comedy groups of India.

AIB was founded by Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba in 2012, and then later joined by Rohan Joshi and Ashish Shakya. Sure they may seem obnoxious to some people, but to be honest , they do one hell of a job in depicting the “real” society . They talk politics, bollywood, social topics and everything under the sun. AIB succeeds in distinguishing the real from the reel.

AIB has often taken stances on social and liberal issues.

They have chosen a satirical path to bring about social change, and are unafraid to speak about issues that are often unacknowledged in society. They have managed to throw light on issues like rape culture, net neutrality, section 377, sexism and various political circumstances.

They are not reluctant when it comes to speaking the truth; using comedy which is a mirror reflecting our own society.

AIB has been able to engage the audience and take notice and to a certain extent made us all wonder about these dilemmas and social restrictions that we are facing. They have a pretty witty take on social, religious and political topics and present it in a quirky way.

They have highlighted subjects like feminism and bullying.

AIB released a video featuring Irrfan Khan, called ‘Every Bollywood Party Song’, which is a parody of Bollywood party tracks. And truth be told, this video hits all the right spots portraying objectification of women in Bollywood , through use of explicit lyrics and content that gratifies sexism.  AIB’s most recent video called ‘Harassment through the ages’ features Richa Chadha and Vicky Kaushal which shows how Bollywood has enabled eve teasing and how it has been a medium for depicting blatant sexism. Another video shows the dark and real side of the recent demonetization process, it shows how our society truly works and how each class of society is really being affected by this big move.

One of the most popular videos by AIB is called ‘Rape: It’s your fault’, which features actor Kalki Koechlin and VJ Juhi Pandey.  It is a satirical take on how society always blames women and the victims of rape and also relates absurd things like chowmein and women using mobile phones to cause acts like rape and sexual violence.

AIB has had its fair share of controversies and challenges. To sum it up, they have been slapped with legal notices, faced censorship hassles and also received death threats. But these guys continue doing what they love to do and have had support pouring in from all sides.

The biggest controversy that AIB has been embroiled in is the AIB Knockout Roast, a roast comedy show that they conducted. The show was highly criticized due to its content being regarded as obscene and vulgar. But AIB has always been responsible on its part and given statutory warnings to its audience regarding their content. They have always added disclaimers with age warnings in their videos and podcasts. So would it be fair to really slap them with such legal notices?

Along with AIB, other comedy groups like EIC (East India Comedy) have also been successful in creating social and political awareness.  

Forget being an engineer from IIT, being a stand-up comedian in a nation like India might be the toughest job. Every joke is scrutinized. We get offended easily. We are too sensitive when subjected to jokes being made on our beloved politicians and actors/actresses. We cannot handle situations wherein comedy is used as a medium to reveal the truth behind religion and the purpose of religion. We are a bunch of hypocrites. The same people who use crass language find it objectionable when humour is mixed with a bit of foul language on a public platform. If movies like ‘Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum’ and ‘Grand Masti’ can be released on such a large scale and if people are actually willing to view these sort of movies, we can definitely handle stand-up comedy culture.

We need to stop taking every “joke” so seriously. Sure, comedy groups like AIB might  have an explosive and controversial take on things, but they put forth the most burning issues of our nation.

The culture of standup comedy is fairly new in India and people still haven’t learnt how to laugh at themselves. We aren’t able to take a dig at ourselves. And most importantly, by trying to ban groups like AIB , EIC and others aren’t we breaching the policy/right to freedom of speech and expression?  We need to change. India is a free country who gives its citizens the moral right of freedom of expression, and we should definitely keep it that way.