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Laughter Sells, Seriously

Thanks to a boom in shows, some stand-up comedians in Bangalore are now able to make a living just by telling jokes

Published: 10th April 2014 08:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th April 2014 08:35 AM   |  A+A-

Very few in Bangalore would have missed the rise of a brand new generation of stand-up comedians. There’s a comedy boom on, with venues across the city booking artistes for shows through the week.

From open mics to big-ticket events, from a small jazz club to Chowdiah Hall, no place is immune to this form of entertainment. This weekend, bringing the funnies on, are Just Kidding, a group of four Bangalore based stand-up comedians.

“The four of us — Sundeep Rao, Praveen Kumar, Vamsidhar B and I — started Just Kidding. We’re just two shows old so far. This is going to be our third gig,” says Rajesh Hinduja, a businessman, who started out late.

“It’s only been a year since I started doing this. And perhaps I’m one of the oldest stand-up comedians in the country right now, but I’m quite young when it comes to experience. I used to notice at parties that people always enjoyed my jokes. So I thought I would try my hand at stand-up comedy,” he told City Express.

The comedians feel “Bombay is where the money is”, but Bangalore is picking up and the city is welcoming to newcomers as well.

“In Bombay, there are maybe two open mic nights one week and none in the next,” says Sundeep. “So when youngsters come to Bangalore, they go bonkers,” pitches in Praveen, “Because we have two nights now — Monday and Wednesday — and we’re planning to have Thursdays as well.”

But like their Kannada counterparts (see story on Page 3), they too believe that making people laugh isn’t a joke. “When you want to present original material, a lot of work goes into it,” explains Sundeep, who co-founded The Polished Bottoms and helped establish the stand-up comedy circuit in Bangalore with Praveen and Sanjay Manaktala. “Sometimes people think we are clowns, but we try so hard because we want our content to be heard,” he adds.

Stand-up comedians tailor their shows to their audiences. “If I see that the crowd consists mainly of 30-40-year-olds, I usually go with my marriage and wife jokes, and if it’s a younger demographic, I know Bollywood works better,” says Praveen.

Vamsidhar feels that each comedian has a style, and jokes that work for one might not for another. “And to avoid offending audiences, one trick that comedians employ is to start the show by poking fun at themselves. That way you’re showing that you’re also willing to laugh at yourself,” he says.

Sometimes, in a pub, people get high and disrupted shows. “That’s the only time a comedian has a reason to be nasty,” he says.

Rajesh and Vamsi do comedy part time, while Sundeep and Praveen make a living out of it. “During my first year, I got nothing at all, the whole of the second year, I made only `20,000, but then onwards, it picked up. Now I’m able to manage,” Sundeep says. But it’s hard when full-time stand-up artistes like him go without a corporate show for longer than a couple of months, he adds.

Just Kidding, Nahar Heritage Hotel, St Marks Road, April 12, 7 pm.

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