CHENNAI: The stand-up comedy scene has evolved so much today. We have a show almost every day, and several performances throughout the month. Moreover, Chennai comedians are making a mark around the world and foreign comedians are coming down as well” says stand-up comic Rajiv Rajaram. Chennai’s very own comedy brand, ‘Put Chutney’, a digital media brand of Culture Machine, is all prepped up for their brand new show on March 17. The men (Rajiv Rajaram, Balakumaran and Aswin Rao) who cracked up YouTube fans with their ‘What if Batman was from Chennai?’ and ‘South India 101 - Banana Leaf’ videos, are now going back to their stand-up roots and are ready to get ‘namma ooru’ ROFL-ing yet again.
Balakumaran, fondly known as Blah Kumaran, says that it was during his ‘free time’ at his software firm that he started watching YouTube videos of different stand-up comedians, after which he got inspired to take up the profession. That was back in 2009, when the stand-up scene was just emerging here. “After a year, I auditioned for Evam and did my first show in 2011” he recalls. Was he always the funny kid in class? He says he hardly used to talk! “I was never the cool kid or the centre of attraction. I may do something funny that probably would be the talk of the class for the next six months,” he adds.
Although Rajiv and Aswin Rao had once been as regular faces at stand-up gigs, they took a two-year long break, and are now coming back with tons of stories to get the city cracking up. “It feels intimidating to be coming back, we have done a few test shows in Bengaluru, but we are still nervous,” says Aswin. Having performed in different cities like Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Delhi and even abroad like the US and Singapore, Aswin says that every crowd is different in its own way. What is the best and worst thing about performing in his own city (Chennai)? “Since most of my stories are rooted in Chennai, the audience get it easily. That is also a disadvantage because most of them are friends, and the moment they see my face they start laughing.”
Rajiv and Aswin’s jokes are primarily autobiographical in nature, inspired from their experiences. However, Balakumaran’s jokes are inspired by what he sees around the society and culture. “For instance, I talk about how people sometimes use all these big words where it is not really necessary. I would never say I have a conundrum, I would just say I have a big problem!” he laughs.
While engineers are a common sight in our country, what is more interesting is the number of engineers who opt out and become stand-up comedians, just like Bala and Aswin as well. Is there a reason for that? Aswin jokes,”When you are at the lowest moments of your life, you get the funniest incidents. The four years of engineering you do are really useless, and that helps generate a lot of funny jokes.”
Which celebrity, living or dead, would you like to perform for?
Manmohan Singh, I would like to see him laugh.
Crazy Mohan and Solomon Pappaiah. I have grown up watching him on television.
Vadivelu, because we both are from Madurai.
Catch the Put Chutney boys live on Mar 17. Two shows starting at 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm at Sir Mutha Venkata Subba Rao Concert Hall. Tickets available on: www.bookmyshow.com