It is not every day that you debut on the silver screen in a movie directed by Imtiaz Ali with Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone. This was Tamasha. And then Mudassar Aziz spots you and offers a role in Happy Phir Bhaag Jayegi.
He juggles with different roles - he acts in TV serials and has done a number of TV commercials as being a voice-over artist and is a TEDx speaker Jeeveshu Ahluwalia says stand-up comedy has always been his first love.
The winner of Radio Mirchi Comedy Ka King 2014, Ahluwalia’s stand-up videos as well as comedy sketches on YouTube have garnered over 22 million views.
“I was always the funny guy who offered those few light moments during busy and tense job schedules or family get-togethers which can get boring at times,” he says.
So Ahluwalia, who began his professional career as a door-to-door salesman in 1996, quit his job of 16 years to pursue stand-up comedy.
“I had gone to watch a comedy show and midway, asked the organiser if I could perform for a few minutes.
This was March 2013 and I was at the Mind Café, Cross Point Mall in Gurugram,” he says. Though the place has since shut shop, it opened new doors for Ahluwalia.
“I decided to quit my job and devoted a year to this artform. I thought if nothing happened during these 365 days, I will return to my job,” he says. But he never had to!
The stand-up comedian has done over 2,000 shows all over India as well as in China, Spain, Malaysia, Bahrain, Italy, Thailand, Dubai, Doha, Singapore, Philippines and Australia.
With at least 10 stand-up shows a month, he has a busy schedule today but life was not always the same. “The first year was difficult. There were times when there was no work and no money.
But I had to keep at it. Somehow, having no security cover worked well for me. It pressurised me to perform more and better,” he says.
The perfect script
It’s like raising a child–there is no free time. One has to keep writing.
There are times when what you think is a great joke doesn’t click with audiences and times when an absolutely lame joke evokes huge laughter.
Ahluwalia writes what he observes around him but there are five topics he steers clear off – caste, creed, religion, sex and politics. “I like people being comfortable during my shows and not get offended by any of my words.
I want people to go back happy. There are enough reasons for being unhappy in life,” he says in a sombre tone.
Life being a funny guy
It’s not easy at all. People expect you to be cracking jokes always. But that’s unrealistic.
A stand-up comedian too has a daily life which includes mundane chores. Plus there is a constant hard work behind that one hour on stage.
“Stand-up comedy is a singular, self-obsessed art form. Life is isolated. But it works well for me. I get to travel business class, stay at great hotels and visit all over the world for the shows,” he says.
His own worst critic
One thing which he never lets set in is complacency. He is never 100 per cent happy with his shows and is pretty critical about himself which he says helps improve his acts.
“If I don’t criticise myself, others will and I wouldn’t like that,” he says.
The Indian scene
Stand-up has been just 10-year-old concept in India. There are hardly a hundred stand-up comedians in a population of over 1.3 billion.
“This is a brilliant time to be a stand-up. But you have to keep working on your act, and deliver what the audience is looking for,” says Jeeveshu who will perform at Radisson Blu Paschim Vihar today.