Where are the comedy shows on TV?

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By HT

NEW DELHI, Aug. 10 -- Is comedy not that much fun any more? Even as live standup gigs flourish across the country, people who used to get their dose of laughter from TV are seeing an ebb tide. Popular names such as Kapil Sharma, Bharti Singh, Sunil Grover and Krushna Abhishek seem to have gone into hibernation.

According to Preeti Simoes, a creative producer for shows such as Supernights, Comedy Nights with Kapil, and The Kapil Sharma Show, the shows all went off air around the same time. "Maybe the ratings and expectations didn't match. Also, comedy shows are expensive because of the artists' and talent cost, whether it's writing or performing," she says.

She adds that producers would take their time to launch a new show, as a show needed novelty to work. Preeti says, "When you have a flagship show like Kapil Sharma's, you want to come back with something that changes the way we look at comedy in terms of the concept. Audiences have also become smarter and no longer appreciate content they've already seen." 

Amid all this, social media influencers such as Gaurav Gera and Ssumier Pasricha, and YouTube stars such as Bhuvan Bam and Sahil Khattar have found an audience. Gaurav, known for his Shopkeeper-Chutki videos, says, "I prefer creating content for the Internet, because here, I shoot on my own terms. No one says, 'This is funny, so create this'. I'm the creator, scriptwriter, director - that gives me more control." 

Bhuvan, who runs the popular channel BB Ki Vines, says that the transition from TV to smartphones has been the biggest change. "TV is monotonous because of censorship, and on the Internet people don't need to wait for their favourite show. There's a vast variety of content on digital platforms, unlike TV where similar formats are reinvented over and over," he says.

Also, several comic groups are running their own channels, such as All India Ba***od (AIB) and East India Comedy (EIC). Even streaming platforms are promoting stand-up comedy. Kenny Sebastian, a judge on online reality show Comicstaan, feels younger audiences don't follow TV much. "Comedy is an honest form of entertainment that relies on satire, which regulated media like TV restrict. The small screen is still a stronghold for regional content, but urban audiences have migrated to online platforms," he explains.

For EIC co-founder and Comicstaan judge Sapan Verma, comedy in the digital space is uncensored and honest. He says, "There's political humour, satire, observational humour, musical comedy - everything is available online. Which is why people prefer it over TV."