Having my cuffs shackled with the manacle of nationalism, I struggled not to write on this particular topic. I made a strenuous effort to resist my fingers from typing these words as I feared crossing my boundaries and defaming my country and its people. But even bacteria stabilise themselves after shifting from lag to log phase. What are we (I did not use “Who” on purpose!)? I realise that stand-up comedy is actually all about quipping and satirical mockery, but there should be a limit set for everything.

We, as a society, have set certain principles for ourselves, no matter how shabby and rotten. One of them is finding entertainment and amusement in others’ sufferings and agonies. Dark complexion, short stature, dowry, baldness, and poverty are such issues of our society which require our attention and change of approaches; however, these very issues are the subjects of comedy that is presented before us.

The event that kindled a raging fire in me took place very lately at Lux Style Awards 2016, where the tummler-of-all-times Ahmed Ali Butt invited a dwarf couple on stage and ridiculed them of being the parents of a villainy character, Jeena (please get over her!). To add sugar and spice, this pathetically absurd act was later justified to have been approved of by the dwarf actors. Even if that was the case, does it make laughing on them and jeering at their stature legit?

It is not about one award show, dear readers. It is about our common way of thinking and looking at things. It is about our frame of mind. It is about our orientations and inclinations. We do not even make a tiddliest effort to control our fits of cachinnation upon seeing a person falling from stairs or slipping in a puddle. This is what we learn from others and practise throughout our lives… and this is what our entertainers encash.

Our entertainment industry has failed to produce good-quality comedy. What we have are episodes with zany background music and wacky script comprising pointless lines and words like “Acha ji?” and “Han ji!”, that are, by the same token, delivered in loud voices along with yelling and screaming. Our producers, directors, scriptwriters and actors have been unable to bring forth a single comedy show as the PTV classic Fifty Fifty. They made fun of themselves, without incorporating foolish shouting, and the audience actually used to laugh. Nowadays, we just open our jaws and show our teeth with the expectation of guffawing but, unfortunately, have to bring our lips together and hear the rest of the show with a frown.

I am already aware of the reaction of my opponents, who may call me a traitor and the one who can never be happy with anything that Pakistan produces. Believe me when I say that I do not watch Kapil Sharma’s show and that, too, for the same reasons mentioned above. And, by the by, what is nationalism for us? Standing in respect of our national anthem that is played every single time before an Indian movie is screened in our cinemas? What should we be taking pride in? Because the movie is being played in Pakistani cinemas? Or just because our country’s censor board allowed the movie to be screened? What are we? Sheep? An animal that just follows the path of others and never creates its own? If some people in the world are using mockery as a medium of comedy then why is it such a compulsion for us to follow them?

JPNA was one good attempt (not talking about how clean or unclean it was as it did earn approximately USD 4.6 million), but it is a shame watching these actors abasing themselves after showing the world what we can actually do.

Now, why is it such a big deal? It is a significant issue for the same reason as asking our government to make more dams and barrages, i.e. sustainability of the human race, not Homo sapiens, because we proclaim our superiority over animals. We just do not have to live; we have to live wisely.