From Meh to ROFL

How Stand-Up has become the next big thing.
P.S. Co-written by Pranav Nayak.

StandUpZNMic

I just finished watching YouTube FanFest and realized how far comedy has come in India.

Till a few years back, stand up comedy for me was a rogue video of Russell Peters that somehow found its way on my hard drive.

It was back then that I stumbled upon a podcast by All India Bakchod (AIB), and that was my first introduction to the emerging comedy ‘scene’ in India.

What I heard, I liked. So, I went looking for the podcast creators on Twitter. Soon, I had discovered other comedians and their 140 character updates has kept me in loop since.

I may not have a thesis on the state of stand up comedy in India, but I sure am in a position to make an inference or two.

Social media has played a major role in making English stand-up what it is today. And I don’t think them performers will deny it. First hand digital interaction with the present and prospective audiences, gauging the public sentiment, platform for views Et all make social media channels very important for these performers.

In fact, social media has given birth to a few comedians.

Once you start cracking people up on Facebook and Twitter & have a loyal fan following, you wouldn’t mind trying your hand at comedy in ‘Open mics’, would you?

But there is a difference between social media comics and seasoned stand-up performers. When you’re behind the protective shield of the Internet, you don’t have to stare into your hecklers eyes and shut him up with a piercing comeback. You’re in the comfort of your own room and behind the protective screen.

Open mic sessions might be a launching pad, but hardcore stand-up is another ball game altogether.

Presently, we have quite a few established comic artists, many budding comedians also a whole lot of noob performers. With so many jokes flying around, someone is bound to take offence.

The problem with the Indian audience’s that, that someone turns out to be a huge chunk of people.

Let’s face it; India is a cultural melting pot. Many races, castes, religions, lifestyles give form to many jokes. Some are bound to make people laugh, and the fellows not laughing are the ones taking offense. But more often than not, we love jokes that are not even remotely depicting us.

I was sure that India couldn’t take comedy. I had written a list based piece, using stereotyping as a device. It was all in good humour, but the amount of ‘hate’ directed towards me was shocking to say the least. That was something personal, on the public domain, I keep reading about cancelled shows, unruly audience members, strict mandates by the organizers etc. And all that reinforced my notion.

But a lot of it is changing now, and fast.

Now, people think it is an offence to take offence at jokes.

What started off with the Great Indian Laughter Challenge breaking TV viewers into splits after their daily dose of soap drama, has now graduated to podcasts, video channels and hugely popular live shows.

Now, we have places specially dedicated for comedy appreciation. Comedy as a whole is going mainstream; TV, radio, films and current affairs carry content that’s either created or curated by comedians. But the biggest indicator is the fact that, people are actually willing to spend money to watch just these comedians pick on them.

From being a highly fragmented scene, it’s becoming an organized business industry. OML and other talent management agencies are doing a fine job at that.

When a business expands, so does the competition. From the sidelines, it sure looks hunky dory, but with different comedy collectives holding their own ground (read: AIB, Weirdass, East India Comedy and Schitz en Giggles), it might be a feeding frenzy on the ground levels.

When I was watching the TVF guys and AIB taking a bow on the stage, I couldn’t help but see the enormity of all this. From being something that a handful of people see or hear, these folks are notching million plus views on everything they put online, they’re performing to packed venues and networking with the other established designers, directors and performers.

And it’s just the beginning.

Things are still nascent for English comedy in India, and it’s going to become much bigger.

So now would be a good time to get all your information and keep it up your sleeve.

P.P.S. This post was written for the office blog. You can find it here.

Misconceptions and Men.

There are a lot of things that men think but aren’t true. I don’t have as much experience with them as I’d like to think but I know quite a few to come to this conclusion.
Go ahead, give it a read and OUTRAGE cause I’m sure a lot of men won’t like a lot of stuff.

1. Your junk is HUGE. Just like we women aren’t equally blessed, so are you men. Learn it and live with it. I don’t know what women prefer, but it’s okay to live with what you have. Don’t boast if you don’t own it.

2. Women know 3245372482161827 colours. Not true, again. A lot of women do, I agree, but there are quite a few who do not. And it is okay. Some women don’t know the difference between beige and cream and its okay. On the contrary a lot of men also do know a large number of colours.

3. Women are complicated. No! Just say a couple of nice things and buy flowers or chocolates and BOOM! She’ll like you! Now don’t ask me questions about friendzones. That’s out of my ability to explain.

4. I’m awesome. Bah! If you’re not Robert Downey, Jr., you have absolutely no right to think that.
 (Women P.S. – You can replace Robert Downey, Jr. with the man of your dreams)

5. All women diet. Puh-lease! Women can be as huge a foodie as you so do not underestimate them and let them have that double cheese margherita.

6. Women follow sports only to impress men. Really? Are we toys or human beings with a brain of our own? We follow what interests us and what we like. If that should impress anyone is just an additional advantage that we probably get.

7. Women can’t kill a cockroach. Okay, let’s face it. A LOT of women including me, can’t. But a considerable amount of women can. They’re brave and this isn’t a need they’d like to call a man for.

8. Clicking a selfie makes you a pussy. I know so many hot guys who click selfies and that doesn’t make them any less of a man.

9. Men who know about fashion are all gay. That doesn’t even make sense. Since when did knowing about something make you gay?

10. Women are gold-diggers. Incorrect. Not all women fall just for money. In fact, a lot of us do like to dutch in when the time comes to pay the bill!

Love story.

From across the room their eyes met. He smiled. She returned. Everyone else was least interested in anyone but the birthday boy. The birthday song was sung and party had begun. Also, so had their story.

They spoke. A lot. She smiled because he made sure she did. He wasn’t one of those who’d go down on one knee and fancy the woman with a flashy ring but she didn’t have those kind of tantrums either.

He was a cute boy with pretty eyes. She was just another gal. He charmed his way with women and she just sat their and blushed. He didn’t let her get distracted for a bit. Honestly there was nothing that could possibly do that to her.

They talked for hours. They were young and so was the night. He got her favourite track to be played and they danced. They danced like no one was looking but in fact everyone was. It was a special kind of feeling she never had before. She liked it very much and made that very obvious with the glow on her face. He was never more proud of himself.

And then in the middle of this beautiful night something really astonishing happened. There was a massive jerk. The kind you don’t experience everyday. The floor cracked. And slowly to did one of the walls. A part of the roof just dropped like extra cheese from a cheese burst pizza. The chaos needed no invitation. There was music and shudder and something that seemed like an eternity of screams. He grabbed her hand and pulled her close to him. He asked her to not worry and trust him on getting her out safe. It was an earthquake, how could she not get scared? She still said yes and followed his lead. It was not that high a building but the damage was massive.

As soon as the situation seemed over and hardly anyone was found injured, a unanimous decision was made to get out safely. Everyone rushed to the gates and balconies. These two picked the gate. The hand was still held and movements were brisk.

They all tried to run outside but would the earthquake let go that easily? It appeared not. It struck again. This time, even harder. He had just made his way out and another part of the ceiling dropped itself with people from the floor above. The ceiling aimed right at her and of course didn’t miss the target. There, he saw the loss of his newly found love. The shock gripped him and made him numb. Movements were still happening around but for him, everything paused right there.

People spotting at a concert.

Listing again.

For a second let’s pretend this is a book you’re starting to read and on the first page is written,

‘This list is dedicated to my dear friend who just got out of his hiding. Welcome back!’

So, I’ve attended a couple of concerts recently and plan to attend more in the near future not because of my sheer love for music but because of the kind of people I come across. Everybody at a concert loves music, looks their best and probably is high on something or the other but there are some who stand out in that massive crowd. Just going to list down a few.

1. The DJ: Of course. It’s his moment of fame. His time. His gig. His music. His wanna be dressing style and his rules. But you’ve got to love the DJ for he calls all the pretty gals from in the front row or on the shoulder to the stage. Moment of glory for them, I guess? And eye candy for the rest of the crowd.

2. The official cameramen: People you will generally see roaming around geared with fancy cameras and making the crowd look beautiful. Poor kids, attend the gig and yet can’t enjoy the gig.

3. The Regulars: These are the kids who can afford to go to every gig in the town/ country. “OMG! This DJ who I know only one song of, is coming to perform in our city? Must. Go. Mom! Give me your credit card details please!”

4. The bouncers: Black body hugging T-shirt that highlights their man-boobs is the typical attire of any bouncer in any gig. Don’t even try smiling at these guys cause a response will be, “Kid, you’re doing drugs?” Yes. I’m doing drugs cause you know, I’m not allowed to be happy otherwise.

5. The kids: No matter how old you are you will see someone younger than you. This is again one of those ‘rich kids who trick their parents into buying the tickets for them case’ or wait.. isn’t their pocket money grand enough to afford a gig? Yes, I’m sure it’s the latter. Just btw, I’m not jealous of you, you 13 year old! Hymph!

6. The uncle and aunty: I don’t know if it’s just me but I’ve always noticed one old couple who doesn’t look like they know shit about the DJ and still come for the gig for I don’t know what. Not like, “Arre, mere bete ka gig hai, chalo free mein time pass kar aayein!” Cause obviously the DJ isn’t Indian. Strangely I’ve seen them only entering and leaving the gig, what happens during the gig neither do I know nor do I want to.

7. *Click*Click*Click* Types: This is one group that you can’t understand. They pay the same amount for the gig but all they do throughout the gig is, “Excuse me, can you please click a picture of me? With the DJ in the background. With that light. With things that I don’t really care about but need to click cause how else will I update my social media?” I don’t care if you click, at least don’t spoil the gig for me?
There are also those who practically record the entire gig on their phones. How many WhatsApp videos do you plan to broadcast, dude?

8. The hotties and the behenjis: There HAS TO be a considerable amount of chicks in a gig that fall in these categories. The hotties that hardly dance and end up becoming the eye candy material for the guys and the behenjis who wear stuff that I wouldn’t even wear at home.

9. Yawn OK Please: These guys are underslept or over worked or something cause all you see them doing is walking around with a bigass yawn. Now it would be harmless if it were not contagious. But you don’t want to dance at your favourite DJs’ tunes showing the entire world the inside of your mouth, do you?

10. Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe types: No matter who is DJ is, these guys are so dedicated to their own beloved favourite Bollywood steps like the Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe that they will only dance to that and embarrass India.

11. The Campfire Crowd: And then there’s the campfire. Slippers, shoes, bags, cellphones and every other possession is dumped in the center and the group begins to dance around it. Forget about the fact that the rest of the crowd doesn’t even have enough space to stand, these guys dance like it’s nobody’s business.

12. I HAVE TAKEN A NIGHT OUT AND I HAVE TO GET WASTED: Kids. Again. Sigh. Get drunk. (I’m not sure if their capacity is low or some massive pre gaming scenes) These kids act all drunk tripping and falling on them male classmates and then grinding and kissing their lust out. And I’m just like, go do this homework at one of your houses and save us the nightmare!

13. On the shoulder: When pretty skinny women get on shoulders of cute muscular guys, it’s eye candy for both the genders. But when a frail guy gets on the shoulder of a fat guy, bro, go home, you’re drunk.

14. Bucket guys: These guys buy exactly one bucket of alcohol, cause expensive, and roam around for three hours with it. Not only that, but they walk around with it ultimately ending up spilling more than drinking. On our clothes. And then flaunt capacity by mentioning, “Pura bucket down kiya phir bhi kuchh nahi hua!”

15. Creepy guys: Is any concert ever complete without this bunch? No. They stare. And stare. And stare. And stare.

*Still staring*

What kind are you?