Mocking Gurus

The Guardian's William Leith take on why The Love Guru flopped:

In The Love Guru, the main character is a new-age guru in the style of Deepak Chopra – in fact, he's the number two guru, always coming second behind Chopra himself. He's supposed to be a man of eastern mystery, meditation, and so on. (The character is actually pretending to be Indian.) Myers must have thought that this would be another rich seam to mine for dick jokes and jokes about flatulence and sex. But it's not. That's the problem. It's just not – partly because we don't know enough about the world of gurus and India and eastern mysticism, and partly because we're queasy when somebody takes the mickey out of it.

In other words, you can mock slackers, and you can mock 60s spies, but you can't mock gurus – it gives the audience a sort of shudder, as if we were watching It Ain't Half Hot, Mum, the 70s comedy set in the Raj.

Whereas I don't think Gurus/Indian spirituality are necessarily immune to humor, the approaches thus far have probably been too crude to succeed. Try this following sketch from the late lamented BBC program Goodness Gracious Me:

I think this works because:

  • The humor is gentle.
  • It's immediately apparent to both desi and non-desi audiences that this guy is in fact clueless. The humor stems from how our guru manages to continue fooling his gullible disciples.
  • Presence of elements audiences of all types can dig: brand names as pidgin Sanskrit, conflation with Star Wars and so on
  • .

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- August 12, 2008 7:13 PM // Film , Humour