Let’s reel back to 10 years ago. Going to a pub, occupying the dance floor, swaying to some electronic dance music under the disco lights or singing your lungs out on a karaoke night — this was how young India spent weekends. The scene isn’t any different right now — only that you can sit down with you drink and laugh out loud to the jokes of the stand-up comic.
This kind of comedy is not a new phenomenon either. While the stage used to be dominated with comedians like a Johnny Lever who entertained audience with their mimicking talent, the subjects today’s comics touch upon are different.
Papa CJ, Vir Das, Sorabh Pant and groups like the All India Bakchod (AIB) and the East India Comedy (EIC) have set new definitions about stand up comedy in India.
It is also proof that there are takers for the evolving comic scene in the country.
Celebrated stand-up comedian, Sorabh Pant from the East India Comedy group believes that people in India have started accepting the concept and now prefer watching live shows. “I think stand-up comedy has always been popular in India. Just English standup comedy has now become a genuine entertainment option and that wasn’t the case until two years ago. So, now it’s a real thing,” says the comedian adding that it is a good boost when people prefer to come watch them live.
Young Chennai-based stand up comic, SA Aravind feels that acceptance for the art form is increasing at a fast pace. “Besides live shows, there are a number of groups that use do stand-up comedy through the digital medium.”
They are also not limited to the stage and an audience, but have been putting the web to the best use — we all know of AIB.
Renowned comedian Papa CJ who has been in the industry for a decade now also believes that now is a good time for the Indian comedy scene.
“I came to India in 2008 and I was the first one to perform stand-up comedy in English at an open event organised in Delhi. Stand-up comedy has come a long way and it is only going to boom. People nowadays are using the social media too as a platform to showcase their act,” he observes, adding that there is no one way to perform stand up comedy.
But he is a stickler for live shows. “People upload videos and become famous as stand up comedians but the best way I connect to my audience is only through live performances. It is only when you get constant feedback from your audience that you improve and become a good stand up comedian,” says Papa CJ