Stellaeidoscope’s December issue is centred around the theme – Comedy, but covers a variety of other topics as well. The internet is currently flooded with memes and one liners, and cafés and pubs are now the hub for upcoming stand up artists to try their new material. Stand up has quickly gained popularity in India, there is a constant influx of new talent, new material and the audience is embracing it with open arms. The YouTube community has its own share of contributors, the big names Liza Koshy and Shane Dawson apart, smaller YouTubers like Benito Skitter, Alex Meyes and Becke Griggs are making viewers’ heads turn.
Apart from comedy, we have a review on the much-awaited sequel to ‘Fantastic Beasts and where to find them’, a movie that, before its release created a mammoth amount of buzz for its (to put it lightly) peculiar casting, and after, for its lack of, well, a storyline.Also finding a place in our issue this month is a review on a newly opened Library Café, ‘Bookworm’s Library’.
The memes, videos and comedy specials provide a much-needed respite from the dark place that the internet can be and urge us to loosen up and maybe even cry of laughter.
Cheers, and happy reading!
– Gayatri Vasudevan, II M.A English
When Amar Agarwal decided to start a comedy club for live entertainment in India in 2008, he would never have expected the comedy business to thrive this phenomenally in India. A study in ‘Education World’ magazine reveals that over 500 comedians in India are playing their cards in the entertainment industry. The 21st century saw the transformations of pubs into comedy clubs and the popularity of comedy gradually spread to theaters, corporate parties and even in sangeeth functions during Indian weddings.
The release of the second season of ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ added a lot of excitement amongst Stella Marians, inspiring women too to share the stand-up stage with men. Especially with women like Aditi Mittal, Mallika Dua, and Radhika Vaz talking about the experiences of women in hilarious ways, one can really see that stand-up comedy is rather a boon for India. Says Namitha Ann Thomas, a I year PG student from the Department of English, “comedy is a liberating space, especially with women comedians getting on the stage and outrightly commenting on the government using satire. Comedy has become the tool to fight patriarchy and it is interwoven into the fabric of our everyday existence.”
Social media has constantly supported comedians to establish an identity for themselves but also has opened them to a lot more criticism. Media has also helped the comics to take their performances to a whole new level, especially with Amazon and Netflix competing to cease the right joke. But, comics confess that live performances elevate the mood and helps them connect better with the audience.
The upsurge of live entertainment in Chennai probably evolved with comical performances in theatre popularized by artists like Crazy Mohan. Staging his comical plays with props and supporting actors, the inclusion of standup in Chennai was not an intrusion but rather was welcomed with open hearts. A simple stage with a comedian imparting the same amount of humor became a conventional and more preferred mode of entertainment.
Stand up in Chennai was popularized by Karthik Kumar, followed by Aravind SA, Alexander Babu, and many others. A lot of them quit their stressful 9 to 5 software jobs, and this provides for great material during their set, with funny corporate stories and constantly recalling their horrendous decision to pursue an education and a job, only to realize their calling is stand-up. 2017 saw the dawn of Tamil stand-up comedy with Praveen Kumar’s 36 Vayathinile, encouraging more comics to take part.
– Zenia Zuraiq, II BSc. Physics
On July 15, 2011, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part:2 released, marking an official end to the Harry Potter canon. It was bittersweet, with fans having to accept that they might just have to say goodbye to Hogwarts.
But, of course, it seemed that the Queen of all things Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling wasn’t all that ready to say goodbye either. Jo set up Pottermore, an interactive website with insights into Hogwarts and its many characters. She released post-finale trivia on some fan favourites – it was so heartening to know George Weasley named his son after his late twin brother, Fred, and it was disappointing to know that Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood didn’t end up together even with their cinematic chemistry.
However, the trivia and world building kept on coming. In 2016, we went back to Harry Potter, both literally and figuratively, with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play serving as a sort of sequel focussed on the next generation of wizards – with Harry’s son, Albus Severus serving as the protagonist. This was an extremely polarizing time for Harry Potter fans, as the consensus seemed to be “why?” and “don’t ruin harry potter for us”.
However, nothing would deter J.K. Rowling from her incessant world-building. 2016 saw the first of a five-part series centred on a textbook mentioned in the series maybe once or twice – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The Fantastic Beasts movie was more well received than Cursed Child, giving us a likeable protagonist and secondary characters, with many people praising the fact that we got a sensitive male character in Newt Scamander.
This all brings us to the titular issue of the article. In November 2018, we received the sequel that nobody really asked for – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
And oh, it was awful.
The Crimes of Grindelwald is a movie that’s made with one purpose and one purpose only – to set up a sequel. It is the final step in the incessant world-building J.K. Rowling has insisted on, with what feels like more name drops than Ready Player One. The Crimes of Grindelwald is a fascinating case study in how not to capitalize on a pop culture classic.
All the great things about the first movie were cast aside for soulless sequel-hinting. Gone were the actual fantastic creatures and Newt Scamander’s sensitivity. Instead, we got an over the top, poorly queer coded villain in Grindelwald, played by an actor way past his prime. We got introduced to characters we never got to see developed. Characters from the first movie who had been acceptable in small doses were given more screen time with no extra personality. Jude Law’s Dumbledore was so far divorced from the Harry Potter books that it became painfully obvious that the only reason he was there was the name recognition. It was a movie that was written around plot twists and dramatic reveals, simply for the sake of them – simply to hint at a better future movie. It was an overdrawn trailer.
We reach a paradoxical state where it is Harry Potter’s universality that has ultimately led to its downfall. A diverse and well-established fanbase means a safe and bankable audience. The Crimes of Grindelwald is so boring and uninspired because it can be. There are no creative risks, no heart, no soul. The Harry Potter movies were far from perfect but there was at least a semblance of magic, an aura of other-worldliness. The only world you want to be in while watching this movie is another theatre.
Ultimately, the worst thing about Crimes of Grindelwald is that it is so safe, so inoffensive. It is not a terrible movie, it’s just bland. Bland and uninspired. Forgettable. Crimes of Grindelwald may not drive people away from Harry Potter but it isn’t going to draw any new fans in either.
There is a point in the movie, where for no obvious reason, we are treated to a couple of scenes at Hogwarts. We see students there in the classic uniforms as they walk through familiar corridors. Hedwig’s theme (or at least a similar melody) plays in the background. It is a crystallising moment – not because it has anything to do with the convoluted plot of the movie, but because you realise what exactly it is that you’re missing.
-Anahita Teresa Paul, I B.A. Visual Arts
Ah, YouTube. That complex, computerised, algorithmic system that knows me in more ways than anyone on Earth does To be fair YouTube has known me since I did pirouettes on my parents’ bedroom floor listening to Selena Gomez’s ‘Fly To Your Heart’ to my adolescent self crying at the computer desk because my life was nothing like Bethany Mota’s to discovering and being able to cover every single Pop Danthology mashup ever. YouTube’s also been a major source of entertainment during its life span, which makes sense considering it has a diverse range of content creators, so regardless of the person or how annoyingly erratic their mood swings are, there’s always something for somebody.
Comedy content creators or ‘C cube’ as I like to call them are quite possibly the most popular of the kind. Now, I haven’t watched Superwoman’s videos since I found them unfunny in 2015, same for Miranda Sings (I do watch almost every video Colleen Ballinger uploads now because I can’t resist babies) and two years ago I finally gave Ryan Higa a shot and I thought he was pretty funny, though I haven’t watched him recently. I’ve never watched a Liza Koshy or a Shane Dawson video so this isn’t going to be about them either. This is going to be about the relatively small group of YouTubers I find solace in when my daily doses of the three L’s- Lana, Lady and Lorde- drive me to points where I either want to smash something or smother my face in my pillow.
Benito Skinner: Like almost all nice things to happen to me, Benito Skinner’s videos popped into my feed in 2018. As someone who thinks she’s something of an acting critic- Mollywood has the best actors (not stars, actors) in Indian cinema, Charlie Chaplin is a legend because he didn’t need dumb words to tell us a story and Cate Blanchett is perfection (sure, there are other actors just as talented but I just think she’s perfection) – I give Benito Skinner my stamp of approval. Sure they’re completely random skits with over exaggerated characters but they’re very well executed. My favourites include his Fashion Week videos in which his best friend Turquoise is everything I want to be and his Dear Benita series (if she wasn’t an alter ego comedy sketch I’d say she’s a pink haired, insightful Reese Witherspoon whose advice you need to follow).
Movies Explained For: In YouTube’s quest to quench my undying thirst for everything Audrey Hepburn- especially if it includes my man Hubert de Givenchy- this little gem, or should I say Jeb, of a channel came my way with ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s Explained for Millennials’. Instantly, I fell in love. Jeb Ediah is probably in his mid thirties man who as of now is faceless to ‘the internets’ as he calls it, is my spirit animal. I’ve never watched any of the Marvel movies but I’ll be on the front row and centre if Jeb’s explaining them. In fact, I love Jeb so much I not only watch his ‘movies explained for’ videos but also his other content because like the majority of his subscribers I’m here for that priceless commentary- even if it’s about his doll collection.
Lucas: I had no idea who Fred was, still have no idea who Fred is but I sure do know who Lucas Cruikshank is and I think he’s pretty cool. This Nickelodeon star of an era bygone uploads videos about things my brain did not need to know about because now suddenly I find myself thinking about the Lindsey and Hilary feud when I’m trying to sleep at two in the a.m. It’s not the most constructive way to pass your time but I’m not saying you won’t learn anything in the process. If anything, he’ll resurrect your obsession with the Jonas brothers.
Alex Meyers: Cartoon YouTubers are becoming a thing and a few I can think off the top of my head are Domics, Let Me Explain and Cynical Reviews- but my favourite of them all has to be Alex Meyers. Fun fact: he left his home and parents in America after high school and moved all the way to Japan where he still lives now in what I’m guessing is his late twenties. While he does have the most incredibly blue pair of eyes I’ve ever seen, I’m more interested in the cartoon version of him as he rips apart teen dramas. Riverdale literally feeds him content with their remarkable writing decisions and he’s milked the opportunities rather well. I’m not complaining- I even like his video essays on how the High School Musical movies don’t make any sense and I love, no live High School Musical.
Of course YouTube also has a facet of comedy channels which are run by large networks: Trevor Noah is a nice five minute break from all your woes to laugh at the woeful state of the world, John Oliver does the same but for about quadruple the amount of time, Kalen featured on the Ellen show’s got it going for him and of course Saturday Night Live, most would say that it’s quality of comedy has gone done these past few years but my only argument to that is this: Kate McKinnon.
-Riya Nagendra, II B.A. English
I stopped reading very regularly for a couple of years before college, the simple reason being that I didn’t know what to read. I was completely lost, and took to rereading Harry Potter, or struggling through classics on my Kindle (Anna Karenina is brilliant but I still have not finished it after nearly four years).
When you study literature, you’re forced to read. A multitude of different texts, from different places, written by people you’ve never heard of about things you never knew were even things! It’s exciting, it’s new and teachers constantly throw out suggestions for books. There’s no dearth of reading material – fantastic, yes, but I’m now so horrendously indecisive about what to read. I pick up Midsummer Night’s Dream, and no, I now want to read Taming of the Shrew instead — actually, forget both of those, I bought Joe Sacco’s Palestine six months ago and never read it, I’m going to finish it now — but wait, Munnu is so interesting and beautifully illustrated, and it just arrived, gosh! I have to start that.
But wait! I have exams in a couple of weeks, I should be rereading The French Lieutenant’s Woman, except I really don’t feel like it, so I’m just going to read nothing and feel terrible about it, while scrolling through memes on Instagram (which I should’ve stayed logged out of).
Life is tough either way, whether you have things to read or not. I do prefer having all this choice and a college library and professors’ suggestions to fall back on, but every indecisive and procrastinating bone in my body revolts. It’s my own fault. I digress, however — this bit of writing, whatever it is (an article? A blog post? An unpublished, untitled document to lie in the depths of my Drive till I decide to do a digital clean up ages later?) is less about reading or not reading, and more about how, despite all this choice, I am missing out on reading my comics.
Not the graphic novels – not Persepolis (of ambiguous pronunciation), or Maus, or Palestine (that I am yet to finish), but Asterix and Tintin and those beautiful series of Buddhist tales by S. Dhammika and Susan Harmer. In all my reading of Pico Iyer and Mahasweta Devi and A.K. Ramanujan and John Fowles and Toril Moi, I feel an intense longing for Herge, and for Uderzo and Goscinny, and Bill Amend, and Charles M. Schulz (who will forever be my biggest cartooning hero).
I miss them so much, and they’re all there, just a room away and I could open that ugly little yellow cupboard and take them out and read them, but also I can’t! It’s not because somehow comics are worth less ‘reading points’ than books with just text — I know better than to think something ridiculous like that — but because reading something you’ve read a million times already is a waste of time when you could expose yourself to all this new content. You could learn more about the world, expand your horizons!
But I just want to stop, and read Asterix and the Chieftain’s Shield. But I should be finishing Munnu. But I should be studying Fowles. But I’m not doing any of those things — instead I’m writing about how frustrating this all is, and about what an immense, gigantic fool I am, and how after I finish writing this, I’m going to go and play Pokemon Emerald on an emulator on my laptop for some reason.
Goodbye and God help me.
-Harshitha Satish, I Economics
Picture credits: Google Images
Just when the first benchers of the classroom graduated as engineers and doctors, the creative thinkers at the back benches were drawn to the world of comedy, art, dance, culinary, music and every other profession that the first benchers thought wasn’t their cup of tea. This is exactly what paved the way for stand-up comedy to be a profession.
Stand-up comedy in the recent past has given room for young adults to make a living out of talking about life, politics and the most basic issues in comical and humorous ways. You might just be visiting the local bar to have a drink or the restaurant next to your house to have dinner and-up comedy by Evam would always season your refreshments.
It’s a talent that was introduced into the world centuries ago in Greece, UK, India and USA. In ancient Indian history, there is a mention of court jesters who entertained the royal clan with their wit and humour.It’s not new to people. In India, in the past decade, the number of stand-up comedians has definitely risen with comics like S.A. Aravind, Karthik Kumar, Kenny Sebastian, Kanan Gill, Kapil Sharma, Adithi Mittal and many more, who encashed on people’s laughter and made it their livelihood.
They travel around the globe to entertain people and make them feel closer to home. I spent my teenage life binge-watching ‘Chai Time with Kenny’, ‘North Indians vs. South Indians’ and ‘Madrasi Da’ and nothing has changed with me turning 18 this year. I saw a couple of my own friends and seniors looking out for internships at comedy clubs, eager to work with the established ones in the field. This is the change in trend.
The basic qualifications needed for this art are knowledge about the current political and social scenario, presence of mind, observatory skills, sportive attitude, communication skills combined with wit and the ‘gift of the gab’. They should be able to convey varied information coherently and convincingly. The audience’s applause is the performer’s delight.
Everybody wants to wind up their day with a light heart and a smile on their face. It is an added responsibility on the speaker to not just lighten their burden but also enlighten them. The verbal expression of the speaker doubly impacts the keen listener.They don’t just laugh and walk away. They carry a message with them.Kenny taught me about mothers loving Chai. Alex taught me some Carnatic Music. Kanan Gill taught me how parents look forward to share memories. And they all continue to share it in their hilarious way.
-Revathy, II B.A.English
-Swetha, II B.A.English
- The month started with the news of the resignation of Mr.Urjit Patel, Governor of The Reserve Bank, who cited personal reasons for his resignation. Amidst the controversies regarding the interference and conflict between the Central government and the RBI, this resignation has given rise to many more questions. Mr.Patel thanked the Government and all his colleagues in a statement issued by the RBI.
The President appointed Mr.Shaktikantha Das as the new Reserve Bank Governor on the 12th of this month. The new Reserve Governor acquired the office with immediate effect. Mr.Das was formerly the Secretary of the Revenue and Finance ministries and currently a member of the 15th Finance Commission.
- The results of the recent general elections in five states have jolted the nation revealing the new trends in electoral politics. The Indian National Congress emerged victorious in the states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh while regional parties took a toll in Mizoram and Telangana. In Mizoram, Mizo National Front acquired 26 out of 40 seats establishing a clear victory in the state. Telangana stood with Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) for an extended term.
- The UK court ordered the extradition of Mr.Vijay Mallya earlier this month. Mr.Mallya who has been under trial for fraud and conspiracy is currently taking refuge in the UK. But now, owing to the reasons and arguments put forward by India, the UK court has ordered the deportation of Mr.Mallya and has ordered the payback of money. Mr.Mallya was found guilty in defaulting in the payment of crores of rupees from public sector banks. In a later statement, Mr.Mallya assured former Kingfisher employees that 100 crores will be spent in paying their pending salaries.
- 4. Delhi is going through its worst winter with the temperatures dipping into 4 degree per celsius. It is way lower than the average rates of temperature in the past years. Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are also going through a dip in temperature. Despite the cyclones and the low pressures formed in the Bay of Bengal, Chennai has not received its usual share of rains making it worse for the upcoming summer.
- The Indian media was perpetually excited this month as popular celebrities tied the knot. The wedding wave began earlier this month with the wedding of actress Priyanka Chopra and American singer Nick Jonas in Jodhpur. As the third week came in, all eyes were on the grand Udaipur wedding of Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal. Later,badminton players Saina Nehwal and P.Kashyap announced their low key wedding through Instagram.