You Gotta Laugh, Mate
31 July 2012 at 10:49 am
What does homelessness, ageing, cultural differences and laughter have in common? Comedian, Uma Thacker looks at highlighting social justice issues through humour.
This month I held a comedy and laughter event for a group in Camberwell, Melbourne. For several of them, English is a second language and laughter served as a common language that bridges cultures and creates harmony. The participation was enthusiastic and the feedback was positive.
One of the participants, Seema, has been coming to the group for three years.
“This is one of the best things that has happened to me,” she said.
When I started doing comedy and running laughter groups, the reaction was a bit bemused.
“An Indian woman doing comedy and laughter groups?” said one audience member to me. “That’s amazing.”
A few months ago, a comedian called Mikey Dynon approached me.
“I’m organizing an event called ‘Laugh to stop homelessness,’ he said. ‘The idea is to focus attention on the plight of the homeless. I’d like you to take part.”
I didn’t hesitate for a moment.
“Of course, Mikey,” I said, “the plight of the homeless has always been a cause close to my heart. Whenever I get into my warm house and bed, I remember those who are spending cold winter nights on our streets.”
Laugh to stop homelessness is a charity event with several comedians taking part, at Trades Hall on October 27th this year.
Last year I performed for the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation during their forum to highlight the problems of ageing in our society.
Stories of my spunky Grandma Gina were a hit at the forum. With Michael Schumacher as her role model, Grandma Gina drives Mumbai style on Melbourne roads, believes in growing old disgracefully and is the antithesis of the traditional older Indian woman.
I have brought comedy and laughter to the public during several occasions such as Harmony Day, Australia Day and International Women’s Day. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the subject matter was domestic abuse of women. It was a somber topic and I was a little hesitant when I was invited to lighten the occasion with humour. I was pleasantly surprised to find that tasteful humour is never out of place on any occasion and was well received by the audience.
When I arrived in Australia from India some years ago, I loved the Aussie outlook on life, of laughing at yourself and not taking yourself too seriously.
The catchphrase “You gotta laugh, mate” became my own motto and helped me bridge cultures and bring people together.