Interview of Stand-up Comedians – 1
Jay – Thank you for your participation in this interview, what was your inspiration behind being a stand-up comedian?
Making other people happy makes me happy. The amount of joy and warmth I get while I am on stage, telling jokes, thinking about how I’m able to make someone laugh because of something I said, is unparallel. I can do this all my life.
Jay – Was it difficult for you in the initial stages to get the timing of a joke right or not able to speak words fluently?
Yes, yes it was. I have been performing on stage since I was in school. Did two plays, hosted assemblies, did comedy performances as well. So I was used to performing in front of people so my stage fear gradually decreased with time. But when I passed out of school and started comedy it was a whole other dimension. It’s different from what you do in school in front of kids and teenagers. The atmosphere in the school is very ‘giving and encouraging’ per se. When you step out there are hundreds of other people like you who are trying to do the same thing as you are. Making people laugh. With their best jokes and wit. You’re performing for a bunch of people who aren’t very happy with their lives and have genuinely taken out time to sit in front of you and listen to you tell jokes. So it’s difficult, comparatively. And timing comes into play, you start writing down your pauses on paper, you try one joke, one line 3,4,5,6,10 times in different tones, you change the words sometimes. All of this just to get the timing of one joke right. So it was difficult for me in the beginning, there still are things I find difficult but I’m glad I’ve progressed a bit.
Jay – What challenges do you face as a stand-up comedian?
I think my biggest challenge as a comedian (and this is just my personal opinion) would be the city I am in. I’m from Dehradun and I am studying here too, so until and unless my graduation is complete I can’t move out to any other city with a good comedy scene (Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore for example) to pursue full-time standup comedy. Dehradun’s quite a small town and there aren’t many opportunities here for a person who wants to do live standup comedy. There isn’t a comedy club here or just a venue which is a cafe or a restaurant in general and happens to host at least one comedy show and one comedy open mic per week. I took a year gap after school and went to study filmmaking for a year in Noida. I started doing standup there and then came back to Doon for 3 years for my graduation. When I came back, Open mics had just, just begun happening in Doon. But those weren’t solely for comedy too, they were for poetry, singing, storytelling as well. And the frequency was very low too, on an average the city had one open mic per month. Which is very low if you want a city’s comedy scene to flourish. In Delhi, Pre-covid, 30 open mics were happening on an average in one week. So the scene was very dead in Dehradun.
That is why, after a year of doing standup in Doon, I started approaching cafes who were hosting live music at their venue to try their hand at live comedy too. I did 15-20 minutes slots for them and even organised open mics at their venues. But then Covid happened. So I think this was my biggest struggle as a comedian, to find places to do comedy.
But I am glad that open mics have started here again since November and there’s one mic happening per week now. Which is a good start. Let’s see if this city engages more with live comedy or not.
Jay – If you get an opportunity to meet a stand-up comedian, who would it be and why?
I’ve met my favourite comedian Abhishek Upmanyu this year in January. Next, if I get a chance I’d like to meet Daniel Sloss. His unabashedness with respect to the kind of jokes he does is unmatched. I really like the guy because of the kind of comedy he is doing and the way he is doing it.
Jay – One of your favourite comedians Abhishek Upmanyu quoted the video tweet you posted, how special was that?
Very very special. I posted the video as a dare because someone had asked me to impersonate him. But I didn’t know it would reach him and people would love it so much. And that video is still celebrated, my friends keep seeing it and keep telling me that I am good as a performer and they would want to see more of me. So it’s a great feeling when you’re relevant among people and that video is a major reason behind it. I remember each and everything about that day very vividly and I’ll never forget that. So the video is very special.
Jay – Do you think about controversies while making jokes?
I do and there have been a lot of times I have not cracked jokes just because I am worried about the consequences I’ll have to face if certain jokes of mine offend a marginalized group of people.
Jay – How do you deal with comments from people who may take a particular joke of yours offensive?
I try to engage in healthy discourse with people who find a joke or two of mine offensive and explain to them that comedy is all fiction,it’s all a script and it’s all a joke. It comes from reality, yes,but it doesn’t neccessarily has to be true in all aspects and it isn’t even. Sometimes they convince me and I understand if the joke’s too bothering for them so I take it back. I am still trying to find better solutions but this is what I have been going with uptil now. Balance works for me.