I walked into Karthik Kumar’s ‘Aansplaining’ with a naive hesitance. My problem wasn’t with performer of course but it was with the very idea that a single man was going to be addressing hundreds of women about male privilege – something that’s already been heavily drilled into every aspect of our living and needs no explanation. Mansplaining at its finest.
Ten minutes into the show a lot changed in me. I realised KK was just another 8 year old boy who grew up being given privilege without explanation, trauma without comfort, and power without responsibility. It was a show about finally claiming what it feels like to be male, in just the most raw, unfashionable and touching way.
The difference between male comedians talking about male privilege and female comedians talking about male privilege lies 50% with the audience. The scornful raise of eyebrows, the disapproving tongue clicks and the slow claps when important social issues are hung on the fragile thread of humour can break a performance. And in the most natural human way, we take sides when it comes to gender.
That’s to say that it takes an enormous amount of courage and self control to produce gender-specific comedy that isn’t offensive and I think KK has done a fantastic job with that. Watching women (having been through the distasteful experience of being born female) lash out on men is a vibe but watching men lashing out on men is my new guilty pleasure. KK however went a step ahead in offending other groups and sentiments, safely following the industry trend of weak religious humour.
What I loved the most about Aansplaining is that it tells a story. In a world of destructive comedy where performers think there’s nothing funnier than sabotage, KK’s skill of using what we already know about ourselves as a platter to lay down important social questions was refreshing. The laughter he arose was from the heart, one of togetherness and a happy cry for change.
KK’s humour was spontaneous, self driven and relevant. There were moments of the show that I wanted every little child growing up to hear because they felt like chocolate in a bun but his infamous swearing and adult content would come in the way of that. I personally enjoy the dirty humour but I know it’s not for everyone.
I’m in awe at this man because of the respect for the female community that he puts into his art. These acts of acknowledgement are what the world needs and KK has managed to make all of us look inwards for where and when the gender privilege stems from and how easily it camouflages in everyday life.
By the time the show was over, I was grateful to have given Aansplaining a chance. Because in turn, I was giving myself a chance to connect with deeply ingrained belief systems, and mindfully disconnect. KK has the charm of a teenage boy and his ability to channel that charm towards turning grave conversations into comedy is what makes him stand out in the stand-up world.