It's very easy to crack jokes at someone’s expense - all you need is a little bit of brain power, something almost everyone possesses. Almost.
But any stand-up comedian will vouch that the real talent is taking a joke against oneself, or even making one about one’s own idiosyncrasies.
On the eve of his party’s victory in the Delhi Assembly elections, Arvind Kejriwal showed he was one of those rare individuals, when he appeared on The Viral Fever’s (TVF) Barely Speaking on YouTube.
Humour has become a thorny issue the world over with the terrorist attack on French publication Charlie Hebdo and the furore over All India Bak***d’s (AIB) ‘roast’ of actors Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh. In this age, where social media is used as tool for venting, cartoonists and humourists have a tough time in keeping everyone happy.
While Kejriwal’s appearance on the TVF video can seem, to his opponents, like an attempt to project himself as a tolerant leader, the USP is same as that of AIB’s roast — people willing to face up to jokes directed at them.
TVF member Biswapati Sarkar returns as ‘Arnub’, the parody of a TV anchor, who grills celebs in an over-the-top fashion.
Kejriwal, wearing his ubiquitous muffler and ‘I am Aam Aadmi’ cap, not only answers with a straight face, but also pokes fun at the media, his opponents, and himself.
VIDEO: See the CM playing for laughs
Sample this. Sarkar welcomes Kejriwal by saying that he ‘based his moustache, hairstyle and political career on the Anil Kapoor film Nayak. Kejriwal responds: “Thank you, I think I made a mistake by coming here.”
Sarkar adds: “You claim to be the representative of the aam aadmi. So, when you go out in public dressed like this, are you trying to say that the aam aadmi has a bad dressing sense?”
Kejriwal quips: “My political opponents criticise me for my political statements, you are criticising me for my fashion statement, my wife criticises me for my blank bank statement. This is not fair!”
On Sarkar’s farcical statements belittling corruption, Kejriwal responds in kind.
“Why do you behave like a child in your shows? You are a grown-up person now...We’re launching a children’s wing of the AAP, why don’t you join that?” he says.
The pair are then joined by Jitendra Kumar, who plays ‘Arjun Kejriwal’, a fictionalisation of Arvind himself.
The character of ‘Arjun’ is a small filmmaker and a crusader against the monopoly of big studios and he dresses and acts exactly like the AAP convenor, who runs the ‘Bollywood Aam Aadmi Party’.
Arjun, after being grilled by the anchor about ‘running away’ and dreaming of ‘Hollywood’, a dig at AAP’s decision to contest the Lok Sabha elections, tells Kejriwal there are rumours that he threatened to file an FIR against his sisters-in-law for stealing shoes at his wedding and that he cuts TDS on his children’s pocket money.
At the end of the video, Kejriwal speaks directly to the audience and says: “Hum log jitne neta hain na, humein apne upar bhi thoda hansne ki aadat honi chahiye. Thoda sense of humour sab logon ko hona chahiye [All political leaders should have a habit of laughing a bit at themselves. Everyone needs to have a sense of humour].”
Whatever the reasons behind his TVF appearance, one thing is for sure — Kejriwal has done the unprecedented and shown the way for other politicians to follow.