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Comedy genre: Under-tapped or well-exploited in India?

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Comedy genre: Under-tapped or well-exploited in India?

Bringing in the laughs, it seems, is paying rich dividends to channels like SAB TV and Mastiii. SAB has been outdoing channels like Imagine and STAR One. On the other hand, Mastiii’s mix of music served up with some comedy is also working. SAB has recorded a channel share of 7.99 per cent for the past 11 weeks in the Hindi GEC space, where its shows like ‘Tarak Mehta ka Ooltah Chasma’ has scored a TVR as high as 3.63 (CS4+). Mastiii has recorded an average channel share of 12.5 per cent in the music channels share (CS 15+) for the past 11 weeks.

While these channels are doing fairly well as far as numbers are concerned, the question is has there been enough experimentation in the comedy genre or is there still untapped potential here?

Just the tip of the iceberg
Speaking to exchange4media, PM Balakrishna, VP, Allied Media, said, “Comedy as a genre will never go out of vogue. I don’t think we really have explored the genre; this is just the tip of the iceberg. We have a different sensitivity towards comedy as a genre. Audiences are opening up and real level of comedy is yet to be explored. The genre is unexplored and humour and comedy have depth. Comedy to me is a real test of society that if we are able to laugh at ourselves. It has just begun.”

Mohit Joshi, Executive Director, North, MPG, remarked, “Channels dedicated exclusively to this content is the first step, which SAB and Mastiii have already initiated. Seeing their success, I am sure others will also follow. We as media custodians have to patronise the genre for it to grow and carve a niche for itself.”

He further said, “The genre of comedy is not under-tapped, in fact, we all remember ‘Ye jo hai zindaji’ which had revolutionised the genre many, many years back. We also remember the ‘Hasya Kavi Sammelans’ that used to be aired on Doordarshan around Holi and other festive environments. The genre has always existed, however over the years, comedy has evolved and become more mature and at times slap-stick – which probably is a trend of the times. There is a lot of experimentation happening with the genre. The latest experimentation is being done by the news channels, which show comedy clips from these programmes as fillers.”

Talking about the TRPs, Joshi believed that they would always be mass environment driven. He observed, “Inspite of the domination of mass genres, programmes like ‘Tarak Mehta ka Oolta Chashma’ have delivered well. I feel that numbers for the genre will definitely grow, however they should not be compared to mass environments.”

Sushma Jhaveri, Senior VP, Carat Media India, noted, “ It’s not they haven’t tried earlier, most of the channels had early prime slot for comedies a few years ago and some of them were successful, like ‘Shriman Shrimati’, ‘Tu Tu Main Main’, etc. Other reason is that comedy is the most difficult genre to crack, if I understand right. Even SAB has managed after lot of trials and errors. There are genres within comedy, with each cluster appealing to different audiences.”

Experimentation and research needed
When asked if a genre could be created out of comedy, Jhaveri replied that it required a lot of experimentation and research in cracking what worked and what didn’t. She asked, “Do people want to watch more of comedies? The best of comedies haven’t garnered enough viewership to create a genre out of it. Again, comedies are not universal like cricket. There are kinds of comedies from ‘Khichdi’ to ‘Ji Mantriji’, each catering to different sensibilities. It requires a lot of research in cracking the right software.”

Balakrishna concluded, “Of course, it is encouraging that SAB has capitalised on the genre. They have made a smart combination and a very good strategy. It is a nice touchpoint for audiences fatigued by usual daily soaps. The likes of Raju Srivastav have been doing pretty well and audience respond to SAB TV as it has been around for many years. Comedy is working for them and there is a huge untapped potential. The fact of the matter is humour is pushing yourself. I don’t think SAB and Mastiii have explored the genre of humour to the maximum extent. Humour as a genre has got no limits. They need to take steps to create bold comedy.”

The real potential of comedy has not been exploited to the full extent and there is scope for a lot of experimentation in the genre. Whether more full-fledged channels will be dedicated to this genre is the question. Mastiii and SAB have begun to walk that path and have tasted success, whether others will follow suit is for us to wait and watch.

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