By Deepak Gopalakrishnan Sep. 16, 2019
In the distant future, when human doctors and engineers become obsolete, will stand-up comedy be the job parents want their kids to pursue?
Aaryavanshaan (A7 to his parents), 17, is in his bedroom, talking to his friend Raj via mind-connected WhatsApp (technology that took off in 2026 after Elon Musk’s Neuralink joined the mainstream). A7’s worried about a painful conversation he needs to have with his folks who are pushing him to get into comedy.
R: So… You okay?
A7: Yeah man, can’t delay this much further.
R: What you gonna say?
A7: That I want to pursue my passion, you can’t push your dreams on me… The usual crap, I guess.
R: So when are you gonna speak to them?
A7: Now, I guess… Wanna get it done with.
Scene: Living room. Aaryavanshaan approaches his parents who’re having a laugh — it looks like they’re reading something on their foldable Galaxy S26.
Dad: “… and that’s why people from Bandra are like remote-controlled drones… Haha, love these Delhi-Bombay jokes, makes it feel like my mama took me to my first-ever show at The Cuckoo Club… Oh hey A7, what’s hangin’?
A7: (cringes) Dad… I’m Aaryavanshaan
Dad: (rolls eyes) Whatever… Kids these days. So, what’s up?
A7: Dad, Mom… We need to talk… It’s about my career.
Mom: Beta, no need to worry about that at all. We have a surprise for you. Dad and I have managed to get you an open slot at Canvas Laugh Club in Nalasopara!
Mom: I know, it’s not as big as the one in Lower Parel, but it’s still Canvas and it’s got some good crowd.
A7: So… Yeah, that’s the thing, I’m not interested…
Dad: Oh? That’s okay, we can try and get a date with Cuckoo Club Ulhasnagar as well, they have a nice cro…
A7: Dad, no… I don’t want to do comedy…
A7: My heart’s not in it. I’m sorry. But I’m really keen on being an engineer. I’ve been doing some stuff after school and I think I’m good at it.
Dad: (long pause) Wow… I mean…
Mom: After school? What do you mean?
A7: Like last Tuesday, I went to a science fair and I won the best new project award.
Dad: You told us you were going for a sketch workshop.
A7: I know… I lied and I’m sorry. I’ve tried to like comedy, Dad. I really have. But I just don’t think it’s for me. I really think my future is in a lab, building models instead of going on stage in front of a drunk…
Dad: ENOUGH! Enough of this engineering nonsense! What, you think TCS is going to come and hire people by the container-load like they did in 2005? Do you think Apple still hires human engineers like it’s 2025? Did you know 17 of the Indian Institutes of Alternative Culture were actually called Indian Institutes of Technology until the mid-1930s? Engineering, it seems. Are you joking?!
A7: Well, technically, that’s what I’m trying not to…
Dad: A7, comedy is what our family does. Your grand-dad won four open mics. Your parents have given their lives to comedy and almost got selected for Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
A7: That’s it dad… It’s your dream, not mine. I don’t want to go to Melbourne. I want to go to Stanford.
Dad: STANFORD?! That place full of Silicon Valley would-be billionaires?
Mom: Calm down…
Dad: No you listen to me, A7. AI and automation are killing all the jobs out there. Argh! Remember in 2023 when Uber replaced all its drivers? What are you going to do in 10 years when you have nothing? You’ll come crawling back, begging us to take you in, wondering if it’s too late to apply for Comicstan.
A7: You guys are looking at this all wrong. There is always a need for good engineering talent, regardless of automation. See, I read this thing in “Wired”…
Dad: Enough! I thought I blocked all these channels from your YouTube.
A7: Yeah but dad I’m a white hat hacker, I could easily bypass…
Dad: Shut up! I’ve had enough of this. Do whatever you want. Look at Sharmaji ka beta, he’s an opening act now.
A7: Vinay just makes stereotype jokes dad, he’s not even really that funn…
Dad: Go to your room. NOW. How dare you bad-mouth stereotype jokes, they sustained the entire comedy industry for years. GO!
Did you know 17 of the Indian Institutes of Alternative Culture were actually called Indian Institutes of Technology until the mid-1930s? Engineering, it seems. Are you joking?!
[after he leaves]
Dad: (head in hands) I can’t believe it. My own son. We’ll be the laughing stock.
Mom: Actually… we… won’t… (Sobs)
Dad: What do we do?
Mom: Let me talk to him. Maybe I can convince him to at least take up a career in electronic music or (ugh) fashion design.
Mom: See beta, all this science and all is nice as a side hobby…
A7: Really? Then tell those two Stanford professors that.
Mom: Sorry? You’ve been talking to Stanford professors?
A7: Yeah. Every week we mindtalk for 30 minutes. I might get a name on a paper, mom. A paper from Stanford. Do you know how big a deal that is?
Mom: Well, yes… But… Is that a sustainable career? I mean why don’t you do this on the side? Maybe before you go to the clubs, you can do this… Research and all… Dad and I just want you to have a safe career… Science and all are so volatile, beta. In 2020, after Donald Trump became president for the second time, he almost ended funding for all government engineering jobs. Everything that can be taught from a book can now be done by a machine. But art… Despite all the advances in AI by the best efforts of Elon Musk and Mukesh Ambani, haven’t been able to make a decent album or…
A7: I tell you what. Let me study engineering. I’ll start a comedy club in college. I can… You know… Balance. Let’s see what happens. I might even apply for Edinburgh Fringe…
Mom: Oh, son!
A7: You know, Mom, won’t it be funny if… In 30 years… Engineering becomes so mainstream that kids actually want to pursue comedy as a career and are fighting with their parents who are lifelong engineers and stuff?
Mom: Well… Let me tell you a story your grand-dad used to tell me.
Deepak 'Chuck' Gopalakrishnan is a freelance writer and marketing guy who lives in Mumbai. He runs two podcasts (Simblified, The Origin Of Things) and a satire newsletter (The Third Slip). He used to work in advertising until his soul couldn't take it anymore, and now spends all his time annoying his cats, listening to prog-metal, cycling and writing bios of himself in third person. He has an irrational love for cold water and Tabasco.