Vantage point

Monday, February 27, 2006

Why is Maharashtra the Biggest Corny Joke Economy?

Pushkar began the day by cracking this extremely corny joke

Q - Why doesn't Jassi want to have children?
A - Because Manu Sharma killed Jassi ka Laal (Jessica Lal)

I of course, governed by the same benevolent spirit that guides victims-and-perpetrators of pyramid schemes, said to myself "Why must I remain the victim when I can be the perpetrator?". I proceeded to email it to anyone and everyone, and have of course, tricked you into becoming a victim through this blog.

A few days back, Tony and I were having a profoundly meaningful and insightful discussion about the "rich" corny joke tradition in Maharashtra. He has observed several communities at close quarters and has concluded that the percentage of people who crack such corny joke and take vicarious pleasure in the same, out of the general population is exceptionally high amongst Maharashtrians compared to North Indians. The "guy who cracks horrible jokes" is as much a regular component of a group of Maharashtrian friends as a Communist in WB/Kerala.

After having noted this empirical evidence, we proceeded to analyse the reasons behind it. And the answer was obtained by combining economic principles with Darwinian ones.

The reason Maharashtrians are more prone to corny jokes than North Indians is simple. The dominance of friendly violence in North India as compared to the more non-violent laidback culture of Maharashtra. In North India, just playfully beating up a friend is no big deal. So while a Maharashtrian, after hearing a very very bad joke, will just take a deep breath and slap his forehead, a North Indian is more prone to say "abeyyyy yaaaar....itna ganda joke...utha lo saaley ko" and place a few kicks on the perpetrator's backside. In fact several unsuspecting Maharashtrian corny jokesters such as Pushkar and myself, on occasion when surrounded by Northies, found ourselves being picked up and kicked around for cracking a horrible joke.

The "violence" is not very damaging of course. Just playful kicking among friends. But it is enough to act as a disincentive. So mindful of this disincentive, and following survival instincts, we would tend not to crack such jokes when surrounded only by kick-happy Northies.

So imagine if you are a promising(!!) little corny jokester as a kid. In Maharashtra, whern you start cracking jokes, people just react with disgust, slapping their own foreheads(instead of the jokester's cheeks), thus providing encouragement. But in the North, since the little jokester would most probably get beaten up, his corniness is stamped out at a very young age.

And as a result, Maharashtra has a thriving corny joke trade, while North India does not.

I am sure Adam Smith and Charles Darwin will rest easier, knowing they have contributed towards cracking this conundrum.