“Making people laugh isn’t a funny business, it takes in a lot of efforts, numerous sleepless nights, self-doubts and forgetting how to smile. But then, it all turns into something so meaningful and beautiful when you see the audience burst into laughter, you know you’ve killed it and you can get back home to have a peaceful sleep. My career in stand-up comedy started as a bomb, meaning I was trying my hand at stand-up comedy in English and had over four to five failed gigs while performing at a club, that’s when Jagan Krishnan, a fellow stand-up comedian, who’s been more of a mentor than a peer advised me to try my hand at Tamil acts, I did and there was a sweeping roar of laughter that filled the hall.
My career in comedy had a funny start, meaning I was in the second year of my engineering when I realized that I wasn’t cut out for this, so, I started writing scripts for short films and movies as a hobby. Not that I ever published or shared them with anyone, but I enjoyed giving a shape to my imagination in the form of words.
I then went on to become a meme creator for eight months. It felt good to be an entertainer. But there was no money there so I had to take up a job as a graphic designer. While still working full-time I started attending comedy clubs, tried to perform, and evoke some laughter, but like I said, most of them bombed. My show, the ‘Irresistible’ Indian Advertisements with evam Standup Tamasha was well-received, which encouraged me to keep putting in more and more effort to succeed and do better.
The challenge with being a stand-up comedian, which probably everyone in this industry would relate to, is the fact that people assume that you have an easy life that is trouble-free. Even I am a human so there are bound to be moments where I feel low or upset, and if I ever happen to post it on social media, just like everyone else, people are baffled and wonder how could I be depressed or stressed. A line penned by Vaali beautifully sums up the life of every comedian I believe, “Sogangal Enakum Nenjodu Irukkum Sirikkaatha Naalillaiyae…,” that’s because that’s how people want to see us and an image different from that is something they’re not willing to even give a glance. But yes, it makes me feel glad to know that in this world filled with despair, they see me as the beacon of hope that could spread smiles and make life easy, I think that’s what keeps me going.
Speaking of people and their attitude towards comedy and stand-up comedians, I think doing stand-up comedy in Tamil worked for me, but the major challenge was to put a tab on your tongue and be very careful with the choice of words as the audience is not mature to accept a few cuss words thrown into the script just for fun. The same however works with English, probably the reason for that could be the fact that Tamil is an emotion more than a language for us, so when someone even as a slip of the tongue uses a swear word, we take it personally.
It is important for people to look and consume comedy at face value. However, one should know the moderation in which we could use such words, because the format of roast comedy would never work here, what we need here is clean comedy that emerges from our everyday life situations. I learnt this hard way and wish the budding stand-up artistes take notes and make sure they try to evoke laughter from relatable situations rather than leaning upon unacceptable word choices to evoke laughter.
But last few years have been great and I have been trying to create an identity for myself. Right now I have opened for a lot of the who’s who in the stand-up comedy circuit but like every stand up artiste, I dream of having my own solo show. Artists like Alex have set the stage and increase the scope of Tamil Stand-up comedy by growing to a scale that all the budding artistes can aspire to achieve in a few years.
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