29 Years


Thursday, December 26, 2013
By Homiar Nariman Vakil

The day of Parsi humour is declining. My grandfather used to sit in arm-chair bending towards me, when I was a child and regaling me with humorous jokes and anecdotes stories from Gupsup, Khenkotak, Mutt and Jeff, Blondie etc.

In class-room the teacher asked who is the "Speaker of the House” I raised my hand and replied "My Mummy. The whole class­room was full of laughter and the teacher compelled me to go outside the classroom. A friend of mine got up and appealed to the teacher that humour should be encouraged in the class room. as Parsis have inborn humour.

Very few persons analyse humour or think about it. A man may work hard on such things as his game of golf, but may not seek to improve his sense of humour or practice his funny story or ever read a book on how to tell one. He cannot because there are very few such books. For all literary and artistic acquirements there are classes and courses, schools and lessons, children with a gift for drawing or Karate & Judo are taught out. But no one teaches funny boy humour. William Haztitt pointed out that man is the only animal that laughs and weeps. But he maintained that our laughter and tears spring from different reactions. We cry out of compassion, but laugh out of lack of compassion.

Parsis regard humour as a form of laughing kindness. True humour is not contempt, its essence is love. In our pursuit of recreation, sober humour should open our eyes to the difference between the genuinely joyous and the superficially amusing. In our mode of living, healthy humour should serve as a guide to sanity. In sickness, humour should keep us cheerful and in face of death, it should guard our equanimity. Humour has two sides, the critical and the kindly. The critical aspect of humour keeps us from being sentimental and the kindly aspect of humour keeps us from cynical. When the two aspects are combined, they tend to keep us sane and sanity is the keynote of humour.

It has been said that humour like charity begins at home. Home is certainly the starting point. We must begin with self. It is quite easy for us to make fun of others. "Everything is funny", when it is happening to somebody else, but how many of us are able to laugh at ourselves, when the joke is on us? Yet real humour starts with self and a bit of self-satire is the beginning of wisdom.

Every Parsi who wants to live with a. sense of humour must accomplish three things. He must learn to know himself, he must try to reason with himself and he must be able to laugh at his own self. Yet in the point of historic dignity, the pun stands easily first among the verbal devices of twentieth Century humour. In case of the pun. the contract of incongruity that makes humour is the fact that one and the same word means two different things that really has nothing to do with the another. Sometimes wit and merit of pun depends on its being imprompty and actually not merely related. But when it is obviously made on the spot, the element of impromptu gives it a sort of intellectual merit. Parsis have also a knack in changing abbreviations from the true meaning to a humorous one as in the case of BBC so as to mean Bhika Behram’s cuva instead of British Broadcasting Corporation.

Parsi humour originates from Persian literature. In Persian literature humour is not lacking as is evidenced by the funny stories in which the literature abounds though some of them are traceable to Arabic and other sources. Most of the wit in Persian Linterature to be found expressed in verse, very frequently in extempore verse in the making of which the Persian poets have peculiar aptitude.

Humour must be recognized as an especially important factor in health amongst Parsis in view of the emphasis on psychosomatic medicine in our day. The modern physician believes that he must study and treat not only the disease of his patients but also the man behind the disease, the whole man including his body and mind. In the light of his approach, humour assumes a two-fold function. Its first task is to dispel fears, worries and anxieties of the senstitized patient. Its second task is to give us a cheerful outlook on life and thereby aid us in the restoration and preservation of our health. Humour may also be a positive factor in the healing process.

There is no denying that there is a great deal of clash and conflict between parents and children in modern life. Children often complain that paternal authority is the form of domestic dictatorship. Parents counter complain that the revolt of youth is offensive. The result is a relationship between parents and children that resembles either a state of warfare or at best, an armed truce. Hence there is a need of humour in daily life. A little more humour on the part of parents and children would help them to dispense with formalities and to redefine authority and reverence in terms of love and mutual understanding.

Speech and humour are the unique gifts of man. The two are intrinsically related for humour is the salt of speech. As a seasoning salt, humour removes from human speech all that is insane and gives to the spoken word a pungent flavour.

Humour is our most natural and genuine endowment. It flows from the depth of our being. The more we love, the more we laugh and the more we laugh the more we love. The more human we are the more human we grow. Sense of humour is not alien to Parsis. It is a man's sixth sense. The other senses enhance the joys of life. Sense of humour renders life itself enjoyable. A sense of humour is not merely a luxury, and laughter is not reserved for special occasions.

Many times a Parsi would speak some humorous words with Parsi accent or do some short humorous scene in Hindi films and would thus add flavour to the film.

1 would be foiling in my duty if I forget artists like Mr. Adi Murzban, Mr. Nader Nariman, Mr. Homi Tavadia, Mrs. Hilla Nariman, Mr. Bomi Dotivala, Mr. Yezdi Karanjia, Mr. Dinyar Contractor etc. who has entertained the public on radio, stage and television.

PARSI HUMOUR has got its own flavour and originality. Humour like art and poetry is something, which comes from within. But if you have sense of humour, it can certainly be cultivated.

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