The quality and nature of humour and comedy is a yardstick to determine the sensibility and maturity of a nation. A nation's wit is reflected in its literature, media, films, and performing arts. Sadly, the quality and subtlety of humour in our society have undergone a steep degeneration.
Instead of laughing on our failings, we now entertain ourselves by ridiculing one another. This is amply visible in infotainment and entertainment television shows which have mainstreamed the derogatory humour practised in commercial theatres. The comedians poke fun at the host, guests, fellow artistes and even the audience watching the programme in studios. Almost all late-night television shows create humour from body shaming. This is a manifestation of our societal attitude towards vulnerable segments and physically or mentally challenged members of the society. According to some experts of social sciences, such kind of 'comedy' in is proportional to the degree of cynicism, negativism and despondency faced by the nation. The void created by the disappearance of classy humour is being filled in by everything under the sky that shocks and mocks.
The decline of the film industry in the 1980s brought to closure the humour of iconic comedians like Munawar Zareef, Rafi Khawar (Nanha), and Lehri. Nanha kept good comedy alive in Alif Noon. The educated presenters like Dildar Pervaiz Bhatti and Khalid Abbas Dar entertained with their witticism. The decline of filmi humour gave a big opening to stand-up comedians like Moin Akhtar and Umer Shareef. Pakistan Television that remained ahead of films in quality content produced high-value comedy shows. Athar Shah Khan (Intizar Farmaye), Farooq Qaiser (Kalian) and Shoaib Mansoor (Fifty-Fifty) introduced popular humour of a superb standard.
Side by side, a juggat-oriented comedy was being performed in Punjabi stage theatres in Lahore. While Lahore theatre produced eminent comedians like Amanullah, Iftikhar Thakur and Sohail Ahmed, the humour was mostly created from body shaming and suggestive remarks. Situational comedy in television raised its head in the form of sitcoms including Khawaja and Son by Ata-ul-Haq Qasmi and much later Bulbulay by Nabeel. Sona Chandi by Munnu Bhai and longest-running Guest House by Qaiser Farooq were other comedy series that became golden hits.
The arrival of private television channels brought stage entertainers to TV talk shows that were mostly politics-oriented. A beginning was made by...