As I was aimlessly scrolling through Amazon Prime Video, like on every other day, figuring what to binge-watch next, I stumbled upon One Mic Stand. The OTT platform's new stand-up special didn't really stay in my mind even with its quirky description.
But then Amazon decided to show a 30-second promo of a stand-up performance by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and all hell broke loose. The video shared on his Twitter handle had garnered more than 5,50,000 views and nearly 40,000 likes when I last checked.
So when it released, I skipped all the other episodes and went straight to his stand-up mentored by "hilarious troublemaker" and self-proclaimed "anti-national" Kunal Kamra.
In the beginning, we are introduced to the Thiruvananthapuram MP walking across a hotel, narrating a monologue where he explains the reason for his seemingly one-off attempt at stand-up comedy. "Why not try this too?" he exclaims as he meets Kamra and Sapan Verma to get a heads up on what to do and what not.
During half the conversation, I was fixated on the delicious pastries and macarons spread in front of them. But, like Tharoor, I too wanted to write a review "without completely making an arse out of myself."
Kamra gets on stage first. He straightaway goes on to roast a journalist whom "the nation already knows." Not the person alone, but the whole newsroom debating culture, right from high-pitched cacophony to all the silencing and shutting-them-down mantras.
For a moment, as I was ROFLing (we'll get to that lingo in a bit) I couldn't help but wonder how true it was and the way journalism standards have reached a level where I would want to switch off the TV and rather practise Baba Ramdev's yoga poses. On the other hand, I didn't want him to be slapped with a defamation suit either. Verma, too, cracks jokes with ease within his five-minute window before going on to introduce the main man.
The recipe for Tharoor's jokes is simple -- chop in some classic Tharoorian English, squeeze in some subtle digs at BJP, garnish with attempts to connect with millennials and, voila, you have the success soup.
Although he seems nervous and constantly says that he is underprepared, it definitely looked like he'd done his homework. Indeed, the best part of the lead-in, apart from the cupcakes, was how he'd lined up his A4 sheets, chits, notes and notes on notes with itty bitty lines written over them, despite only being provided a prep time of 24 hours.
Wearing a Modi-like, Nehru-like bright-coloured kurta and a vest, he warmed up with some 'chowkidar' jokes. Oh, and did you know that this episode was filmed during the Lok Sabha elections? No wonder barbs were let loose at the saffron party that night.
His attempt at decoding popular millennial lingo could've been inspired by Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act show. Having struggled to decipher it earlier, Tharoor manages to prepare a huge sentence out of these buzzwords this time! Hasan, are you listening?
Tharoor is introduced as the "unofficial English teacher of India" on stage and after 15 minutes, he leaves the floor with a standing ovation making all of us think that he'd be pretty amazing as a stand-up comic if he was actually searching for an alternative career.
For a moment, all of the 'exasperating farrago', 'floccinaucinihilipilification' and 'recalcitrance' vanishes and what you're left with is a cool man pulling off his act in style. Will we see more of his acts in the future? Only time will tell.