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  • Vaijayanthi

The stand-up comedian

Updated: Dec 12, 2021

“What do you want to do about this Prem-Sadan offer?” asked his secretary. “Please call and confirm for tomorrow.” said Vishwajeet.

It was almost 11.30 pm and there seemed so much more to do. Being a popular stand-up Comedian was definitely hard-work. As he drove his SUV home, Vishwajeet kept thinking about the phone call from Jagannath Babu the day before. “At Prem-Sadan we have around 150 residents staying with us. Their wrinkles speak of their lives struggles. And their empty eyes always long for love. Hence, it’s always our endeavour to lighten up their days. It will be wonderful if you can perform for them for a few minutes.”

Before he realised it Vishwajeet reached his home – ‘Bageecha’ (The Garden). The name always reminded him of his childhood Home – Blossoms Orphanage. Years ago, the ladies of this orphanage found him at the temple steps and took him in. He owed his up-bringing to the ladies who mothered him. They were the only family he ever knew. Vishwajeet was quite frail as a child and never looked his age. So, he was never confident of confronting anyone quickly. Fortunately, his bearing and manner many-a-times kept him out of the ‘direct line of fire’ of the bullies! Life was not easy as a child. At the home, Vishwajeet had to compete for everything from bed-linen to books. Life had taught him to take things with a pinch of salt and laugh it off whenever he could. That was probably the secret to his success as a stand-up Comedian.

Early the next morning Vishwajeet left for Kasarvali where Prem Sadan was situated. As he turned his vehicle into the compound, he saw Jagannath Babu coming towards him to welcome him. Jagannath Babu was a middle-aged man with a gentle bearing. After a cup of coffee the two went to the prayer hall where a small stage was set up. Vishwajeet felt a lump in his throat when he saw his audience.

Old, aging and very lonely.

Their eager smiles made him realise how bored they were and how much they longed for company. But Vishwajeet had mastered the art of camouflaging emotions which was imperative for his profession. Soon he began his act. He joked about the new generation with big houses but smaller families, more money but less time… he had the gift of the gab and his humorous one-liners made the old folk laugh out merrily. His performance was almost like a therapy for them.

After the act was over, Vishwajeet sat down for lunch with Jagannath Babu. “It’s indeed very nice of you to come this far. Some of the residents here haven’t seen their families for years now. We use laughter as a therapy here to help them deal with depression and loneliness.” After lunch, as he was leaving, Jagannath Babu handed over the cheque to Vishwajeet. Seeing this Vishawajeet said, “Jagannath Babu. This has been the most humbling experience of my life. It’s my privilege to have brought a smile to these old lips that once sang lullabies and taught lessons of wisdom. When I perform on stage, I gauge my audience and I know some laugh, others don’t. Some listen, others don’t. But today I had an audience that listened to every word I said. That for me is more than this cheque.” As Vishwajeet walked out towards his car, Jangannath Babu was filled with a strange sense of gratitude and respect for this young, lithe man - once a shy, timid boy - who rose from nothingness and had today made a name for himself. Jagannath Babu kept staring after the SUV long after it was gone.

The next evening as usual Vishwajeet reached the theatre in Paladica for a stand up performance. He looked impressive in his new Armani. After all it was going to be a special show tonight. As he entered the venue he was greeted at the counter, “Welcome Sir. And Happy World Laughter Day to you. Your show is house-full today as usual.”

Vishwajeet took his position on the stage.

The spot light came on.

He was in focus. “… ‘I have many problems in my life. But my lips don’t know that. They only smile and make you smile and laugh out loud’ said the Great Chaplin and the one and only Vishwajeet… so here’s wishing you a very Happy World Laughter Day….”

The crowd cheered and clapped at this thundering entry.

Vishwajeet began his act. “Once upon a blue moon time there lived a long-eared, tail-less man who worked for a donkey….” In a few minutes the crowd was in splits over the jokes that Vishwajeet cracked.

After all … that’s life. The show must go on. Why shed a tear when you can laugh out loud… So keep laughing.

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