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Laughing Matters: Comedy and Free Speech in India


‘This is EIC Outrage, where we talk about issues … and hope to not get assassinated’. That’s how comedian Sapan Verma chose to introduce one episode of his popular Outrage East India Comedy YouTube series.

India’s comedy scene is currently enjoying a moment; it’s a space of seemingly unpoliced free expression within a conservative culture and an environment of tightening media censorship. Stand-up comedy is where many of the sharpest Indian voices are commenting on social issues as they find humour in subjects as diverse as Bollywood, terrorism, Tinder, feminism, international cricket, youth suicide and Game of Thrones.

As part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, some of the brightest stars of Indian comedy, including Daniel Fernandes, Neeti Palta and Sapan Verma, are coming to Australia. In this panel discussion, the three will talk stand-up, censorship and how comedy might change the world. Hosted by Bhakthi Puvanenthiran.


Sapan Verma

Sapan Verma is one of India’s most popular and experienced stand up comedians. He’s a co-founder of The East India Comedy, India’s leading comedy collective which has more than half a million followers and 80 million views on YouTube.  Sapan is also the first Indian com... Read more

Daniel Fernandes

Daniel Fernandes is one of India’s leading English stand-up comedians. He’s a regular at comedy venues across the country, and has performed internationally at comedy festivals in the Netherlands (Utrecht International Comedy Festival), Singapore (Singapore Fringe), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur Intern... Read more

Neeti Palta

Neeti brings to India’s English language stand-up comedy scene what it sorely lacks – a female perspective. She presents her unique point of view on a variety of subjects: from the life of a woman in India and Indian idiosyncrasies to daily irritants and current affairs, all while indulging ... Read more

Bhakthi Puvanenthiran

Bhakthi Puvanenthiran is the editor of ABC Everyday and currently working on her first work of fiction. She has previously been managing editor of Crikey News, covering politics and media, and held various editing roles at The Age, covering business, arts and entertainment.


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