On first impression, Kenny Sebastian might come across as any other middle class Malayali guy who has a serious outlook on life. But watch him on stage and you’ll find out that there’s another side to him, an extremely light-hearted, funny side. No wonder he’s become one of India’s most loved stand-up comedians. What’s unique about Kenny’s jokes is that they are majorly based on his own life situations; Middle class, Malayalis, CBSE, North Indians vs South Indians. Almost everyone can easily relate to them. “All moms are OCD about cleaning. Did you know? There is an OCD university, where the first rule is you only clean the TV when someone is watching it,” he once said and the crowd burst out laughing. Also, he is a talented singer and improviser. Here are a few excerpts from a conversation with this seriously witty guy.
What was growing up for you?
As a child, I shifted cities a lot. The positive way of looking at it is that you make new friends every couple of years. The travelling helped me adapt to new people and open up.
Did getting an arts degree help?
I went to an art school to study visual arts. The good thing about that was it helps you recreate your ideas on a piece of paper. It gave me a lot of freedom.
How did you go from wanting to be a filmmaker to stand up?
I wanted to be a filmmaker and I still do. I started doing theatre which helped me to act well. I started doing comedy more and people liked it. There was a stand up comedy competition in the IIT B fest. I won it. In Bengaluru, I reached out to most of the local comedians for help.
Have you ever had negative feedback?
Not really. I would never go unprepared.
I have had negative comments, but only on Youtube. I think if I’d listened to them, I wouldn’t have reached here.
Was it a problem for parents to accept you as a comedian?
By the time I was in college, I was making more money than most IT professionals. When I graduated and told them about doing comedy full time, they were pretty okay with it. A big reason why parents do not support your career is because you’re not financially stable and that is a very fair reason. When I got into stand up, I had my freelance video editing career to support myself. I never quit my job for this.
How did improv happen?
I did improv after stand up. It started out as fun. But it always comes second. My priority is stand up. Kanan Gill and I had a sketch show called sketchy behavior. We decided to ask Kaneez and Abish to come and join us to do an improv act.
What do you have to say to people who think that improv shows are ‘rehearsed’?
I take it as a huge compliment. It means the jokes are so good that no one could have thought of it on the spot.