The fool in the royal court alone has the cheek to speak truth to power. The jester who challenges the king with a joke is irreverent, but also a voice of sanity. Devdutt Pattanaik quite rightly said recently that the vidushak has now been replaced by cartoonists, stand-up comedians and talk-show hosts who use satire to draw attention to our follies.

Television comedians John Oliver and Jon Stewart have emerged as influential political voices in the US. Edward Luce writes in a recent Financial Times column that more people in the US trust news from comedy shows rather than the traditional news channels. There is also powerful satire available on social media.

India is also seeing this new genre evolve, with groups such as All India Bakchod and The Viral Fever. Some of the humour may be crude, but the new breed of jesters are welcome in a country with too many people whose sentiments get hurt at the drop of a hat.

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