the opposite of NBC’s Outsourced: the BBC’s Goodness Gracious Me

Last week we posted about NBC’s upcoming sitcom Outsourced, in which an American goes to work in India and makes fun of their funny names. A reader named Sumit responded with a link to one of the funniest Indian-related sketches I’ve seen. This comes from an old BBC show named Goodness Gracious Me that was known for turning Indian stereotypes on their head. Watch what happens when an English guy named Jonathan shows up to work at an Indian company:

Seeing this reminded me of the name I was given in our Delhi office. Not that anyone had any trouble pronouncing my name, but my coworker Dipankar insisted that if I was going to work in India, I needed to have a proper Indian name. None of this American “Dave” nonsense. He studied me intensely for a moment before announcing to the office that I was henceforth rechristened as “Dev Prasad.”

The name stuck. That’s what half of my coworkers still call me.

———-

Clicking around Youtube to find more from Goodness Gracious Me, I came across this sketch, which is even funnier than the last one.

And this one is just weird.

Thanks for the lead, Sumit! If anyone else has any other Indian-related comedy bits to share, please post in the comments. Russell Peters, perhaps?

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12 responses to “the opposite of NBC’s Outsourced: the BBC’s Goodness Gracious Me

  1. I had an experience similar to Jonathan in the first video (although not involving my name).

    When I was in Delhi, I got a bad case of “Delhi belly,” and a coworker suggested picking up a carton of probiotic yogurt at the local Mother Dairy stand to rebalance my intestinal flora.

    When I asked the shopkeeper for “probiotic,” he looked at me like I was from Mars. At first I thought that (as usual) my pronunciation was off, but once he repeated the word back to me, I realized he understood what I was saying, so I switched to trying to describe the yogurt I wanted.

    Eventually something clicked–his eyes lit up and he said “Ah! Antibiotic!” and handed me a container with the words “probiotic yogurt” clearly written on the top. To add insult to injury, a nearby woman who had witnessed the whole exchange then asked me, in considerably better English than the shopkeeper, “What do you call this?” When I repeated “probiotic,” she said something to the shopkeeper in Hindi, and then they both burst out laughing. I assume they were making fun of my wacky American vocabulary.

  2. The “Going for an English” sketch is now one of the most well-known comedy sketches in the UK. And while on the subject of “Outsourced” one of the Goodness Gracious Me cast members Sanjeev Bhaskar also did a sitcom about an Indian call centre – “Mumbai Calling.”

  3. LOL the last video is hilarious.

    I have faced the issue in first video with my name here in Switzerland, though I have still not resorted to Anglicizing it.

  4. Hi Jenny and Dave (or Dev), Glad you guys found the videos funny.

  5. These are so bloody awesome! Thanx for posting this

  6. Russell Peters is more Canadian than Indian! Check out Indian bred Vir Das, upcoming stand up comedian in the Indian comedy scene:

  7. jenny and dave

    Sanchari — thanks for posting that video! Hope we can catch him when we’re back in Delhi.

  8. Thanks for reminding me of this. Still one of the funniest sketches I’ve ever seen.

  9. well Derek…i wld lyk to ….answer to ur concern…we indians believe in educating people around…no matter how backward the situation is…but we are always ready to help… i m sure that the lady the would have only thought of educating the shopkeeper on….what he was selling is not a antibiotic but…something different…we tend to laugh…. but not in offence of anything but to make people feel light of what they would feel embarassed of doing…in mistake…unintentionally…
    anyways God bless u…and u are always welcome to visit india again…..we are dynamic in aspect.
    Jai hind!

  10. Losing one’s job due to an American company’s outsourcing initiative can be a traumatic experience and one that has major ramifications. For instance:

    * Kevin Flanagan shot himself to death in the parking lot of Bank of America’s Concord Technology Center after he and colleagues were laid off in April 2003. The lay-offs were due to the company replacing many computer-related citizen-employees with less expensive non-immigrant-alien guest-workers having temporary work visas. This change included informing the laid-off citizen-employees that the remainder of their tenure was to be spent training their non-immigrant replacements. The laid-off employees were also informed that failure to comply with the requirement to train their replacements and also keep quiet about the transition would result in immediate dismissal, loss of severance pay, and other sanctions.

    (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/06/02/BU270141.DTL)

    * In Charlotte, North Carolina, Wachovia Bank forced American employees to train their replacements, who were brought in from India at a lower salary. An organizational chart shows a Wachovia work group where 12 of 22 software engineers were brought to Charlotte by a Indian technology consulting company called Synechron.

    (http://www.wsoctv.com/news/19047187/detail.html)

    * In Connecticut, drugmaker Pfizer forced hundreds of employees to train their replacements who were employed by Indian-based service providers such as Infosys Technologies and Satyam Computer Services and then leased to Pfizer at rates in many cases much lower than American contractors had been making.

    (http://www.eweek.com/c/a/IT-Management/Pfizer-Accused-of-Using-US-Workers-to-Train-Foreign-Replacements/)

    If NBC chooses to air the program “Outsourced”, they will face a boycott and public protests. These protests will target NBC and their advertisers, and will involve millions of Americans whose lives have been impacted by outsourcing.

    To learn how you can take action, please visit the online petition at:

    [link]http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/ProtestOutsourced

    Join us on Facebook:

    [link]http://www.facebook.com/group.php
    ?gid=127573780594253

  11. Conan does Rajasthan ! Good stuff !

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