SINGAPORE – Local actress-writer Sharul Channa, who is also the head writer credited for the stand-up comedy show ‘Kumar Spills the Tea,’ has taken issue with a review by Ms Charmaine Lim from The Straits Times.
Sharul Channa, a seasoned professional in the arts and show-business for over a decade, expressed concern over what she perceives as a “grave journalistic error” in the review that was published on 28 November by ST.
She expressed her opinions through a statement published on her Facebook account on Saturday, December 2nd.
Apparently, the review in question, which covers the performance at the Kalaa Utsavam showcase on November 24th and 25th, 2023, alleges the inclusion of “jokes about rape and molestation” in the show.
Sharul wrote in her post, “In (the) review, amidst sharing one-liners about the Kumar’s show to indicate that he “drew a diverse crowd” and the “jokes were best suited for Singaporeans”, the reviewer casually drops in that there were “jokes about rape and molestation.”
“She goes further to state that such “scripting, perpetuated the sexist notion that stand-up comedy was best done by men, for men.”
“The closing of (the) review questions Kumar’s relevance as well, by asking “how long his schtick will be accepted, as society pushes for more respect for women,” she added.
Sharul claimed that these allegations imply three things: firstly, accusing the female stand-up comedian writer of crafting sexist jokes about rape and molestation; secondly, suggesting that Kumar, the performer, is losing relevance and lacks respect for women; and thirdly, implying that The Kalaa Utsavam Festival of Arts, managed by The Esplanade, has allowed such content in their shows.
Perhaps, the reviewer “just didn’t get the jokes”
In her statement, Sharul contemplates the possibility that the ST reviewer may simply have failed to comprehend the jokes presented during the stand-up comedy show.
Additionally, she emphasizes the dynamic nature of stand-up comedy performances, where the performer may deviate from scripted content.
“While there can be a writer who can work with the performer, the show is not a 100% scripted performance,” she said, since “the performer can decide to go off script, tell a story they get inspired by in their interaction with the crowd, or talk about something completely unplanned, based on their instinctive reading of the room.”
As such, she stated that the allegations made about “rape and molestation” joke in the show were not part of her writing; instead, Kumar himself penned that segment.
She explained that it was an ironic reference to the problematic portrayal of women in Indian cinema and suggests that Ms Charmaine, raised entirely abroad, may have missed the nuanced Bollywood/Kollywood film reference.
“I can understand how someone of non-Indian descent, with little knowledge of the Indian film industries, might not have caught on to the nuances of the Bollywood/Kollywood film reference,” Sharul said on her post.
She further affirms her dedication to advocating for women’s rights, underscoring previous acknowledgments for her contributions in this field.
Additionally, she advocates for responsible journalism, particularly when dealing with delicate subjects, and stresses the significance of offering accurate context to prevent the spread of misinformation.
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