KOCHI: Laughter is the best medicine they say. Had you ever thought that just laughing at someone jokes is something you should indulge in often? More even had you ever thought the jokes you crack among friends that are a big hit can be actually be turned into a profession.
Vinay Menon, 28, a Kochi lad who is trying to bring an lesser known form of entertainment for the people of the city - stand up comedy.
Vinay's first ever performance was an at an open-mic night in Bangalore. Not stopping there Vinay went on to do shows regularly in Bangalore, however, his proper entry into stand up comedy field came when he started opening shows for well known artists.
"The crowd is very difficult to understand initially. You have to come up with things that they never thought about. If people laugh at your first joke, its a signal that the rest of the 20 minutes will be good,” says Vinay.
Talking about opening shows, "Opening a show for someone is a tricky job. The one who opens the show needs to grab the attention and set the floor going for the artist who is going to take over. It's a big responsibility. Most stand-up comedians start their career as a person who open shows and then when people start recognising them, they start doing their own shows," says Vinay.
According to Vinay, the biggest show for him was when opened a show for Vir Das in Bangalore. Vinay had initially joined a theatre course in Bangalore, seeing people in the comedy business got him inspired and then aimed to take that up as a profession.
"Comedy can't be taught. Whether it's me or for that matter any other stand-up comedian do not have any formal training in it. However, my theatre classes taught me stage posturing and stage relevant things that come handy now," says Vinay.
Vinay's show are a combination of scripted material along with spontaneous jokes. "I do whatever keeps the attention of the crowd, keeps the laughs and applauds going. The impromptu things I do on-stage mainly involves my audience into my work. I randomly pick on people in the audience to keep the session interactive," adds Vinay. Ask him how does the audience in Kochi responds, he says, "It depends on the age group. The younger population is more ready for this kind of shows as they have seen it happening at other places, while with the older generation I need to be a bit more careful. After a show I try and go and personally interact with people whom I picked on to avoid any hard feelings."
The first reaction he gets in Kerala from people to whom he introduces himself as a stand-up comedian is, "What's that?"
Vinay describes his job to most Malayalees as being close to that of 'Chakayath Pura,' an old art form which involves comedy.
Having done shows all over South India, Vinay feels that the response of the crowd in Kochi was one of the best. "It's simply because its new and different for them. Just two shows here and people keep asking me when is the next show. This is a great encouragement for a budding artist like me. I prefer doing my shows in Kochi as it has prime potential," says Vinay, who did his first show in Kochi with Naveen Richard, a stand up comedian based in Bangalore.
Just two years into the business and Vinay has won a stand-up comedy competition in Chennai and also hosted and judged a stand-up competition at GIM (Goa Institute of Management).
Recently, Vinay had done a show at ChaiCofi called 'Malayali Speaking - What the nation doesn't want to know' which was about the news most people skip and the basic way in which news is reported.
The one-hour show was a total joy for the audience filled with loud sound of laughter and applause. Vinay's shows in Kerala have a mix of both Malayalam and English. "Certain jokes get the best treatment when in Malayalam and also the typical accent helps a lot. I am a Malayali myself so its not to offend people but to make my show more entertaining for them." he signs off.