Being funny is not enough for comics

CAREER OPTION

Like cartoonists, their passion too includes making fun, albeit not on paper only but live - in front of an audience. And these funny men don’t spare anyone – from politicians to the common man.

With jokes targetting a typical Dilliwalla to Bollywo­od’s stars to married men and women, these stand-up ar­t­i­s­ts today leave no bone un-tic­k­led. It might appear th­at stand-up comedy is a ser­i­ous contender as a career, but the picture is far from rosy. Top comics charge anywh­ere around 2.5 lakh per show, but if you’re a beginner, dep­e­nding on how good or bad you are, it will take you at least one year to start making serious money.

Public shows don’t pay well unless sponsored. And since most are bar gigs set up by entrepreneurial comedians, it pays a maximum of Rs 5,000 per show.

“If you want to earn money then I would never advocate anyone to enter this field. I have been taking part in gigs for over a year now but I have only been paid for only two of them. This is the scene, for until and unless you are estab­lished, you won’t get money and for that, it takes years to get recognition,” says Vikramjit Singh, a 25-year-old copywriter in an ad firm.

Despite massive YouTube, Facebook and Twitter followings, not everyone can sust­a­in a career in stand-up comedy. You get enough gigs only if you are known. Most successful comics are writers or actors which helps them earn the extra buck.

So then, why are more and more youngsters getting into stand-up comedy? Abish Matthew, an RJ initially is now pursuing stand-up comedy for the last one-and-a-half years now, says, “Nowadays, youngsters don’t want to be an MBA or a doctor and choosing an unconventional field.”

“Comedy is the easiest way to sell yourself. But people do it along with regular work as there is no assurance of income in this field,” says Vipul Goyal, another comic who has done Electrical Engineering from IIT Mumbai.

Inspired by Russell Peters, young Indians realised they have a voice. Then came TV shows like The Great Indian Laughter Challenge and Comedy Circus. Finally, it was event managers and companies who realised that this is a potential money-making venture and opened stand-up venues.

The field is still dotted with more men than women. Says Niti Palta, a stand-up comic herself: “Women already get unwanted attention here and so why would anybody welcome more? They are also known to be shy by nature. That is why you will find less women in this field.”

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