Comedians at War

By Raajeev Aggerwhil

My wife and I have been married for 30 years. That's a long time. People want to know if we ever fight and need marriage counseling. I tell them we hired a surrogate couple in India to outsource our arguments.

At night we give them a Hollywood-like script, our character descriptions and our conflicts. They fight all night and report the results in the morning. I am still waiting for a twist ending on one of these reports where I come out being right. I don't have much hope because I know Hollywood's secrets. If one thing works, you just make sequel after sequel. “She is right. She is right again. She is right all the time."

I thought we could capitalize on the idea of a surrogate couple and make a web series. If one thing definitely makes money, it is YouTube videos featuring middle-aged people. I wrote a script where her character calls my character an SOB but she refused to say it. I said, “Say it." She said, “I'd never say that." “You say it all the time. You're not afraid of saying it, you are afraid of me having proof on camera."

When I talk to my American friends, they don't know anything about Indians. They always assume I am like Gandhi. I do have a lot of similarities with Gandhi. Gandhi wanted peace. I want peace and quiet. Gandhi went on a hunger strike to protest the war. I went on a hunger strike to protest my having to take the garbage out. Once an argument got so bad, I went on a hunger strike again. It only lasted two days because she started cooking all the dishes I love. Tikka masala. Palak Paneer. Chole Bhuture. She knows the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

Every time my wife and I have a fight, I lose weight because I am too lazy to cook. After three days of not having breakfast and only having spinach salad for lunch and dinner, I shed a few pounds. So, in other words, my weight loss plan is to keep telling my wife she needs to lose weight!

When some people have a fight with their spouse, they really fall into their vices like drinking or drugs. My vice is pizza. “I can't believe you called me a cheap selfish bastard! I am ordering a large pizza with mushrooms, pineapple and jalapeno." Sometimes I pick a fight, just so I can order a pizza. I have to be careful, though. Last time, the pizza arrived before the fight even started. Some people have comfort food. I have conflict food.

I got my wife into comedy. At first, she didn't want to do it. She was finally convinced when I told her that if she heard people laughing it meant she was right. Lately, she has gotten too much into comedy. If I talk too long, she starts shining the light at me. “Wrap it up. One minute. Wrap up your part of the argument." Then she points to herself, “Time for the headliner to go on." Comedy has really changed things at home for us. Now she says she is not nagging. She is heckling me. When I complain, she says, “You don't understand. I am trying to make you a better comic; while you take out the trash."

People ask us if we perform together. We tried it once. We decided that we would split up the jokes. I said, “OK, you make fun of my father, my brother and his wife. I'll make fun of your mother." She was a bit surprised. She asked, “Do you need more relatives?" I said, “No, your mom alone gives me enough material!"

It is strange reviewing my wife's comedy material with her because I am really just helping her make fun of myself. I end up telling her, “So at this point, call me a jerk. Like really talk about what a terrible guy I am. You're right; I am a cheap absent-minded guy. Bring that up. Talk about Valentine's Day when instead of flowers, I got you a potted plant." The more material I help her discover, the more I end up in the doghouse. But a pizza keeps me company.

After our last argument, I said, “You know that fight wasn't that good. That was like a Wednesday off-night fight. For our prime-time Friday night show, you really need to bring your A-game." Since she started doing comedy, our fights have also become much more efficient. We were arguing the other day and she started laying out some very logical, calm reasons why I was wrong. I was like, “Get to the punchline. Call me an idiot or something."

Comedy has got into our lives. Now when we argue, we approach it just like we would approach a comedy set. We argue for five minutes. When that time is up, we are done. Then we spend few hours thinking of what we should have said. “That line would have been so much better if I would have said this."

When I reflect back on our marriage, I am glad my wife and I are able to bring creativity into our lives through comedy. A lot of marriages fail because couples stagnate. In order to add a spark to their lives, they subconsciously bring drama into their lives. We are lucky. Comedy allows us to channel our creativity and create drama where it really belongs. On stage!


Los Angeles-based comedian Raajeev Aggerwhil has starred in Nickelodeon's TV show 100 Things to Do Before High School and also acted in the film based on the television series. See his videos on YouTube.