Blue Material: Dalit Comedians Use Humour to Address Caste Oppression

'Blue Material' is a 90-minute stand-up comedy show featuring 3 to 4 comedians, all hailing from the Dalit community. What makes the show distinct is its foundation in the belief that the comedians' personal experiences are inherently political, as they use humor to tackle issues of caste discrimination and promote equality.
Blue Material: Dalit Comedians Use Humour to Address Caste Oppression

New Delhi- “I was recently invited to a birthday party. It was for my upper-caste partner. I arrived a little late, but when I got there, I took off my shoes and entered the living room. There, I saw people playing Musical Chairs.” Turning towards the audience, Dalit comedian Radha then asked the crowd, “Do you know anything about this game? I did not. I went there and saw people running around chairs, and as a scheduled caste, I demanded my seat! My partner's family then threw me out of the house.”

“Once I was out, I realized my shoes were missing! This is the first time it happened to me because I never went to a temple, or rather, I was not allowed to go in one as a Dalit.”

In a world where serious issues often weigh us down, imagine facing oppression armed with the most powerful weapon of all—laughter. Picture a stage adorned with witty quips, uproarious anecdotes, and an unfiltered, raw comedic prowess. This is precisely what 'Blue Material,' a 90-minute stand-up comedy show featuring Dalit comedians was. It was a riotous rebellion against oppression, where the comedians didnt just talk about the trials of caste discrimination, but they turned those struggles into a sidesplitting spectacle, leaving the audience in stitches.

The laid-back comedy show organized by 'Blue Material' in Vasant Kunj on Tuesday night,featured performers Radhe from New Delhi and Manaal from Maharashtra, with the event being hosted by Ravi, a comedian also from Maharashtra.

The Mooknayak is a media platform that stands up for all structurally excluded communities, and this event was not something that should have been missed. So, the platform, for once, attended as a spectator and not only as a journalist. It was an evening filled with laughter and entertainment, and being there was something that shouldn't have been missed.

The group 'Blue Material' defines their style of comedy as "blue comedy," which means it's humor that can be a bit naughty, edgy, or indecent, often focusing on topics related to sex. This type of comedy may include language or content that some people find shocking or offensive.

However, there's a deeper meaning behind the name 'Blue Material' for this particular comedy show. The color blue is associated with the anti-caste movement, symbolizing the sky and representing non-discrimination. Under the sky, everyone is considered equal. This connection to the anti-caste movement is significant because the show features an all-Dalit lineup.

In simple terms, 'Blue Material' is a stand-up comedy show that lasts around 90 minutes and includes 3 to 4 comedians, all of whom are from the Dalit community. The uniqueness of the show lies in its grounding within the idea that the personal experiences of the comedians are political in nature, addressing social issues related to caste discrimination and equality. What sets the show apart from others is the material enriched with the artist’s experience as a Dalit individual in a conservative nation like ours. While calls from upper-caste individuals to end ‘reservations’ persist, it is challenging for them to understand why reservations exist in the first place—a point humorously made in the comedic material.

Typically, in comedy, some comedians make jokes that make fun of marginalized communities, making light of serious issues like domestic violence, rape, homophobia, and transphobia. Unfortunately, these jokes are often used to seem ‘edgy.’ What's notable is that many times, these jokes are made by cisgender upper-caste men in a patronizing or disrespectful manner.

However, there's a positive change happening. Dalit artists are stepping up and taking control, or you could say, grabbing the microphone. They are creating genuine art based on their own life experiences. This is like a breath of fresh air because it brings authenticity to the comedy scene. It's a shift from the usual condescending approach, and instead, these Dalit comedians are using humor to share their unique perspectives and stories. It's a welcome change in the comedy landscape.

Many jokes were directed mainly at upper-caste middle-aged men. Using playful banter, Ravi said, “The favorite pastime of middle-aged men is the mobile game named Candy Crush. But when we talk about UC men, their most-loved hobby is trying to gauge the caste of the other person by their surname.”

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