What is funny … what is not

April 25, 2008 at 10:34 am 10 comments

I realize that different people find different things amusing so when one is organizing an event it is very difficult to cater to all tastes. It is therefore possible that some of you may think I am being over-critical with this post. I usually try not to judge but I am just so cheesed off about this, that I need to get it off my chest.

I went to an IT event in Karachi earlier this month – was really looking forward to it because events like these are always a great opportunity to meet up with some people who may not be part of one’s usual network. I am not going to mention the name of the organization that hosted the event because the purpose is not to criticize but to try and understand why things like this happen. Is it just that no thought goes into the planning?

The evening started off well. The hosts were welcoming, the ambience was nice. It was outdoors and it was a pleasant Karachi evening. Met a number of old friends and associates whom I was able to chit-chat with before the beginning of the proceedings.

It was at this stage that things started to go southward. Two lovely young ladies were MC’ing the event. Their idea of humour was to show how totally non-tech they were, how technology was something that went way above their aheads – our versions of the ‘dumb blondes’. The sad thing is that both the young ladies are actually quite bright and I know that at least one of them is tech-savvy. So why did they feel the necessity to be-little themselves and their gender? Is that really funny? Well, people laughed so I guess they thought it was. I was seething because we spend so much time convincing parents and young women/girls that there is no reason they cannot choose any profession that interests them – whether it be design, engineering, computer science, architecture, film, you name it. When women portray themselves as less intelligent and totally flaky, they do all of us a disservice and it annoys the hell out of me.

As if this was not bad enough, the evening actually got worse when a comedy troupe came on stage and cracked the most vulgar, crude and annoyingly un-funny jokes that I have heard in a long time. Risque humour can be funny but these jokes were not risque – they were blatantly crude, not amusing and totally unsuitable for the type of mixed audience and familes that were there. I actually squirmed and kept my eyes focused on the ground when some of the worst ones were uttered. I was sitting with colleagues and friends – some of whom had their spouses with them. There were kids from universities present.

Apart from the filthy, gutter humour that belonged in a boys’ public school, there was a joke about suicide bombers with one chap coming on stage with dynamite strapped around him threatening to blow himself and everyone else up because life in Pakistan was not worth living. The punch line was that the device didn’t explode because it was cheap Chinese technology. I found it all quite sickening I am afraid and was quite glad that the host was busy when I slipped out. I would not have been able to compliment him on a delightful evening.

I don’t understand why people believe that crudeness, violence and vulgarity is funny. Or am I simply being a prude?

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TiECon on 8th May in Karachi Flying out of Karachi

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mansoor  |  April 25, 2008 at 11:19 am

    I agree, it does kind of suck! Faced a similar situation quite a few times when a group of certain friends got together and all they could do was make cheap jokes/comments and laugh about it. Eventually got so fed up that i stopped hanging with them.

    A society which chooses to indulge in crude humor has a long way to go before it awakens to intelligence..

    Reply
  • 2. Jehan  |  April 25, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Mansoor, I actually don’t think any of us should dictate what people do or say in small groups or amongst friends – if we don’t like it, we can stop hanging out with them as you did. However, I think more sense should prevail when one is organizing a public event. Censorship is not my thing but common sense and good taste certainly are.

    Reply
  • 3. Vickram Crishna  |  April 25, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    What I found amusing about an evening like that was one of the other guests coming up to me and apologising for the jokes that were directed against my country (no, not China! The script spread its heavy hand evenly in all directions). As though that was worse than the loud schoolboy crudities we had been subjected to while waiting – and waiting – for dinner (but that was delicious, thank you very much!)

    Reply
  • 4. Zakintosh  |  April 25, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    I have been subjected to a similar evening – and the same embarraassment bbecausef the presence of teens with their parents – at an event hosted by a leading ad agency. I know that the performers were the same group. One of the cast members is a teacher at a well-known school. I hope none of the kids in the audience were her students …

    Reply
  • 5. Faisal Khan  |  April 26, 2008 at 1:52 am

    I’m so very glad I don’t get invited to such events, but then again, I hardly go out of my cave anymore.

    Reply
  • 6. Vickram Crishna  |  April 26, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Actually, from a professional point of view, it is reflective of a certain attitude towards handling business – ie, to outsource work to professionals. The trouble is, when we do that, we do not absolve ourselves of the final responsibility, whether it is outbound call center work, inbound helplines, credit card/banking or airline ticketing/billing – or simply handling an evening event.

    In this case, the event raises a number of questions: did the principal give the event agency a brief about the entire evening, was there a checklist, was the script verified (in this case, the script was so outlandish that discussion about ‘creative ethics’ doesn’t enter the picture), were the emcees briefed, has there been a proper debriefing in order to make next year’s event better (outstanding, why stop at better?) and so on.

    Of course an IT company is not, and should not be, expected to spend executive time on doing all the nitty-gritty things wrt an awards-with-entertainment event, that is why it makes a lot of sense to outsource the work to an event agency – they are the specialists.

    But having done that, the buck does not stop with the agency, it doesn’t even move there.

    Reply
  • 7. Guest  |  April 30, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    totally agree with the post except “filthy, gutter humour that belonged in a boys’ public school”. This feels like gender biasness to me. ppl (not all but many) from both genders when in compnay of ppl from their own gender often say things or make jokes which are not suited any where else some times not even there. thinking or saying that it only happens with boys or in a boy’s public school is not fair

    Reply
  • 8. Jehan  |  May 1, 2008 at 5:28 am

    @ Guest you are probably right about it happening amongst girls as well. Since I have never experienced it myself in my group of female friends, I guess I never really thought about it. I am sure it happens as much when some girls are together as it does when some boys are together in a small group. My point was that people can do what they want in private groups but a little more sense needs to be exercised in putting together “entertainment” for a mixed audience of different age groups.

    Reply
  • 9. Jehan  |  May 1, 2008 at 5:30 am

    @ Guest you are probably right about it happening amongst girls as well. Since I have never experienced it myself in my group of female friends, I guess I never really thought about it. I am sure it happens as much when some girls are together as it does when some boys are together in a small group. My point was that people can do what they want in private groups but a little more sense needs to be exercised in putting together “entertainment” for a mixed audience of different age groups.

    Reply
  • 10. amberghaffar  |  May 19, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    same happened in our annual

    dinner party ….such cheap and

    vulgar jokes they made on sexual

    orientations that i still feel

    nausea ..( made exclusively by

    4th year mbbs students)

    this simply showing our new

    urban culture …….and lack of

    teachings from parent side

    …(.about WHAT TO SAY AND WHERE

    TO SAY ).
    yep its true that some times we

    are indulged in such activities

    during friends chitchat…but in

    close friends company all of us

    do so …..saying vulgar jokes

    in front of camera or children

    its not good thing in any sense.

    Reply

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