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Stand-up Comic Karthik Kumar Talks Sexism, Politics, Personal Life

Stand-up comedian Karthik Kumar’s show on Amazon Prime has been receiving mixed reactions –laughs and controversies.

Updated
India
4 min read

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
Cameraperson: Smitha TK

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I am sure Ramarajan has a cow. And I don’t mean his wife Nalini. You can’t call an Indian woman a cow. In India, we give a lot of respect to cows.

Stand-up comedian Karthik Kumar's show was recently released on Amazon Prime and there have been mixed reactions – applause, laughs, gasps and controversies.

The comedy special ‘Blood Chutney’ is a slideshow of snippets from the comedian’s personal life in the past year.

Karthik Kumar has always been known for playing the role of the ‘American mapillai’ (prospective groom from the US) in Tamil films. Last year was quite a rocky one for Kumar, especially after he announced his resignation from the industry. His wife Suchitra, a well-known singer in South India, was under the radar after a few pornographic videos of celebrities were allegedly leaked from her Twitter account. These clips reportedly earned her the wrath of big names in the industry.

Unlike usual shows, in ‘Blood Chutney’ Kumar has used the stage to talk about his personal life.

My third special was born at a time which was filled with a lot of personal strife, professional doubt, self-doubt and shame from the world towards my family. And I said if I can’t put this in a comedy show then comedy wouldn’t probably stay with me for the rest of my life.  
Karthik Kumar, Standup Comedian

In the show, the comedian drops several hints about his rumoured divorce with Suchitra, but the special ends on an anti-climax where he says it is no one’s business after all.

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Meant to Be Ironical, But Still Sexist?

Yes, it takes courage to speak about personal issues in front of a large audience. But what has been unacceptable to many is the body-shaming, sexism, hypocrisy and crass humour.

One of the first jokes he cracks has even earned him a formal complaint. Kumar begins ‘Blood Chutney’ by saying actors like 'Mike' Mohan and Ramarajan are probably still waiting to be called for a shoot. And then he says that Ramarajan must still have a cow at home and that he doesn't mean his wife Nalini. This ‘joke’ went viral on social media.

The joke from Karthik Kumar’s ‘Blood Chutney’ that has gone viral on social media.
(Photo: Screengrab)

But no, like the comedian pointed out that his jokes were being taken out of context, the joke doesn’t end there.

Kumar goes on to say that no Indian woman can be called a cow because India is a country which respects cows.

“I have been accused of writing sexist jokes in ‘Blood Chutney’, which is ironic. There is a joke of mine that is going viral that 'Hey he has fat-shamed somebody... Yes, I have fat-shamed one person at one point of time in the special, and then turned the joke around. But this is before I talk about body-shaming as a topic, which is the predominant part of the show,” says Kumar.

However, many believe that this still doesn’t justify him body-shaming a woman.

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There is yet another joke about Nayanthara, which has also riled people. Kumar says since Nayanthara has acted with 'Little Superstar' (Silambarasan) and 'Big Superstar' (Rajinikanth), she must be able to tell the difference in their sizes – with that obvious sexual innuendo he takes a long pause that gets the audience in splits. He then completes the line by saying 'in stature'.

Many have said this joke hints that actresses need to sleep around for work. One Sunny Leone joke too resonates the same point.

Now, using sexist jokes is not uncommon in the comedy scene. Curious, I asked if it was absolutely necessary to make sexist jokes to get more laughs.

It (sexist jokes) probably just gives a knee-jerk response and ends right there.
Karthik Kumar, Standup comedian

“Audiences today are getting bored and are saying, 'We want more'. People want more interesting social, political, personal dialogue using comedy,” said Kumar.

A Performance That Was Real, No Filters On

However, beyond all this, we definitely have to appreciate the man for using his own life incidents as the material for jokes. Kumar packs the show with references to the chaotic political scene in Tamil Nadu, Kamal Haasan’s confusing tweets, Bigg Boss, surgical strikes and intolerance.

Thousands of compliments have been pouring in, with many saying that they relate to the show because the comedian has spoken from his own experience.

Kumar has always been someone who has been quite vocal about his opinions about the political scene or the way the film industry works, and this is definitely one of his most blatantly honest works so far.

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What did you think about Karthik Kumar’s ‘Blood Chutney’? Let us know.

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