There was little to laugh about in the comedy set Mumbai-based Abhineet Mishra did earlier in January this year. Yet the video — on the plight of 15 miners trapped in an illegal rat-hole mine in Meghalaya — went viral. “Comedy means telling jokes, but it also means you take a stand on things,” said the 31-year-old HR professional, who is a comedian by hobby.
On Tuesday, Mishra used his favourite hobby to take a stand again — this time on the devastating floods across the Northeast, particularly Assam.
According to the latest reports, more than 52 lakh have been affected in almost all 33 districts of the state.
“But you guys don’t know about it, right? The media has better things to do.” says Mishra, in the eight-minute long clip.
Like the Meghalaya miners video, Mishra’s new set isn’t performed in front of a live audience either — at the end of the clip, the viewer discovers that the comedian has been addressing an empty room all along.
“Entire districts have been marooned, homes have been swallowed up — but is anyone listening? Do we have the same hashtags as we did for Chennai and Kerala? No, we do not,” said Mishra to indianexpress.com, describing his act as a “symbolic action” to highlight how lakhs of people are suffering in silence.
Growing up in Meghalaya’s Shillong, Mishra feels that the Northeastern states might have numerous stories to tell, but no audience who really wants to hear them. “Why would the jokes from the Northeast be relatable when the entire region is unrelateable?” he asks in the video, which has already garnered more than ten thousand views on YouTube in the past 24 hours.
While Mishra uses dry wit to drive home a few points (“People in Mumbai say ‘My house has a swimming pool.’ So, what’s the big deal, I tell them. ‘Come to Assam during June to August, swimming pools have houses’.”), he ultimately wants to send out one serious message: “Get your act together” he tells the media and politicians.
The video, titled Staying Afloat, was shot in a cafe in Shillong where Mishra is currently visiting his family. Next week, he will do a few comedy shows around Assam. “There’s hardly any preparation that goes into these videos. For example, both the videos were written, performed and uploaded within a span of few hours,” said Mishra, “It’s not like I plan these — if I feel for it, I just do it.”