Are you marginally funny and not that afraid of public speaking? Are you an engineering dropout or perhaps, stuck in a job that you don’t like? Ever cracked ‘non-veg jokes’ in school and made your seniors laugh?
If you've answered any of the questions in the affirmative, then, congratulations, you can be a stand-up comic in India.
Yes, ladies and gentleman, you don’t need a lot to become a stand-up comedian in India today. Maybe a funny blog, some encouragement from your South Bombay / Delhi friends, and the self-confidence of Russell Peters cracking the ‘somebody gonna get hurt real bad’ joke routine.
The ‘Being a Stand-Up Comic’ Club
The Indian stand-up comedy scene is a little like the Mughlai restaurants in India. There are a few good, famous ones but the rest are EXACTLY the same. They’re all churning out the same Dal Makhni, Butter Chicken, Naan every day and they’ve all got their own set of fans who’ll come and eat that and praise them like they’re the best.
Of course, it’s a good thing that the scene is getting bigger and people are getting more recognition and money. It’s also great that a few people from our previous generations have started considering this a serious profession worthy of being called a career.
But you know the whole deal with amateur comedians wanting to ‘kill it’ at open mic nights and people telling them they’re funny, even if they’re not? That’s just killing the little quality we had in the space.
I mean, there’s absolutely no filter. There’s encouragement all across and nobody is willing to tell anyone that they suck!
Why, a majority of these people don’t even want to make people laugh. They want to be stand-up comedians. They want free drinks at the bar. They want to travel for free. They wish to be quoted in the TOI with a funny comment on something topical. They want to be ‘cool’. ‘Being a stand-up comic’ in India is the new ‘being in a rock band’. It’s different, and at the very least, your close circle will always support you.
All budding stand-up comics out there – don’t be disheartened by reading this. You must not give up… yet. You’ll be forced to give up soon enough so you might as well enjoy the ride till then.
For the ones who’re still just thinking of becoming a stand-up comedian, stop thinking right away. You still have the chance to save time and focus on other ways to satisfy a creative keeda – rather than jump on to a bandwagon you don’t really care for. And if it’s comedy, there are many other ways of being funny. Try writing, for a change. Maybe create a short film that is funny? How about doing some mimicry (bring Johnny Lever back!)?
You could even create comics if you know how to sketch (we’re all artists at heart).
Think about it.
(The writer is an ex-animator who now sells brands at a digital agency but dreams of writing all day long!)