East India Comedy (EIC) is set to perform in Gurugram today in collaboration with Black Dog Easy Evenings. The brand, in the past, has brought together popular Indian comic artistes to showcase their talent. The Morning Standard spoke with leading comedian Sapan Verma from EIC on his interest in comedy, future of English comedy in India and the coming together of celebrities for One Mic Stand, among other things.
At what point in your life did you become interested in comedy?
I started stand-up comedy in 2011 and used to be a writer for MTV. I would watch a lot of stand-up from artistes like Sorabh Pant and Kunal Kamra. Actually Sorabh convinced me to do stand-up. He told me that what I wrote was funny and that I should try and perform it. That’s how my journey started. Eventually we formed EIC. However I didn’t always want to be a comedian. There are times I only want to write and direct shows.
What led you to launch One Mic Stand?
I wanted to do such a show for about 4-5 years now. It was challenging to bring people together on board. We told all the participants such as Taapsee Pannu, Shashi Tharoor and Bhuvan Bam among others to choose their own topic while we were there to help them in any way. I am glad it was received warmly.
What is the scenario for English comedy in India at present?
Currently, a lot of regional comedy is on the rise in Marathi and Gujarati. However, we see a lot of performances mostly in the English language taking place in international destinations.
The audience is very receptive towards all languages and the future of English comedy looks very bright as of now. With the entry of the OTT platforms, a lot of content and collaboration opportunities are emerging.
How EIC was formed and what is its USP?
EIC was formed in 2012 with Sorabh Pant, Kunal Kamra, Sahil Shah and me. We would perform together at shows and enjoyed each other’s work and thought that we should name ourselves as a group. Eventually Angad Singh Ranyal and Azeem Banatwalla joined us.
What sets us apart is that as a collective, we constantly try to do new things. We have explored new formats like parody songs, Bollywood vs EIC, EIC outrage. Our USP is the fact that all of us as individuals are very different and our work is very different from each other, our style and delivery is different and that accounts for a lot of variety when we perform together as a group.
Ever feel burned out? If yes, what is your remedy?
I do feel burned out sometimes. It is then that I try to detach myself and take a break. I might go on a holiday for 10-12 days and switch off from social media. If I am in the city, I try to consume a lot of content, read books, meet people and try to go out of stand-up for a while. So that I can return with a new and fresh perspective.
Tell us about your association with Black Dog Easy Evenings.
It is my third year of being associated with the brand and it has been a great journey. I have been performing with them across the country and I have seen that the size of the audience has incredibly grown. A lot of brands shy away from comedy but this has never been the case with Black Dog Easy Evenings.