Let us guess, it’s April 1st and you’re thinking of playing a prank on someone! But guess what, playing pranks maybe a thing of the past, or so says G Khamba, one of India’s most renowned stand-up comedians. We got the pleasure of interviewing him for this edition of India Buzz and he’s been kind enough to open-up on stand-up comedy, reveal details on how he got into it and in fact crack a few jokes on us as well!
Stand-up Comedy is a serious business. How did you get into it and then build a knack for it?
A couple of years ago, like every other Delhi University graduate with smashing grades, I was supposed to go to England and study on their government’s money, before I got ill with tuberculosis (of all the diseases you can get in the world) I was pissed and doing nothing with my life for a long time and I started blogging. Someone read it and told me that I sounded funny and that I should try going on stage. I did exactly that and the rest is history. The fact that I was an academically inclined comedy nerd before that helped however.
I’m not sure what building a knack means, but I’m one of those people who believe comedy can change the world (and historically, it has – the oft quoted example being the civil rights movement in the U.S.). So every time I can go on stage and make people uncomfortable and shift in their seats even if they don’t laugh – I feel I’m doing okay.
What describes you the best?
G Khamba – The Stand- Up Comedian
What is the most wicked prank you have ever played on someone?
Who the hell plays pranks anymore? This is one of those questions where the interviewer is like “Hey! He’s a comedian! He must have done some really funny crazy shit in his life!”:yikes: I don’t think I’ve ever played a prank on anyone in life – unless I guess you ask audiences who paid for tickets but ended up hating my material or my family who can’t get me married off because of my ‘profession’.
Having a huge social media following yourself, what is the kind of advice you would give budding artists who are looking at the platform to grow their popularity?
:doh: One, become friends with people who have a lot of followers so you can get them to recommend you. Two, Steal ideas and jokes from obscure comedians who people can’t find on YouTube, so they think you’re interesting. And finally get friends in digital agencies to classify you as an “influencer” and you can make money off it.
What role has the web played in making stand-up comedy popular in India?
Funny you should ask because I wrote a 30,000 word masters thesis on this. It was actually a confluence of increasing internet connectivity in Indian homes, Russell Peters exploding on YouTube and Star One mainstreaming the concept of conventional stand-up through The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. These three together were the seeds that have led to the explosion of (English) stand-up comedy, where Indians could connect a face to the art. People like Vir, who were there during this time also, helped push this form to a large number of people who otherwise were not exposed to it. Now, 10 years later it is perhaps the most crucial where the only way to reach people, sell tickets, promote shows, create concepts and expose young kids to the form is through the internet. Without the web the (English) stand-up scene as it exists now would probably collapse.
I’m going to ignore the Hindi stand-up comedy scene here because that’s a totally different ball game and something to be discussed in greater detail.
What is the secret to humor?
Anyone who can give you an answer to this is bullshitting you. However I will give you some sure shot templates which work in India:
- Politician name + cussword = audience applause
- Bollywood star + cussword = audience applause
- Cussword = audience applause
Which websites would you recommend for readers to get their daily dose of humor?
I waste way too much time on these three!
What is your favorite cartoon strip?
I don’t have a favorite cartoon strip. Barely read any growing up either. But I will recommend The Jeselnik Offensive – it’s the best television show out there today and if you’re a comedy nerd you should listen to WTF with Marc Maron.
Thank you G Khamba for making us laugh :yes: , for being a role model to upcoming artists and for sparing time to do this interview as well.