Stand up and shine!

Stand up  and shine!

In the 90s, most people who enjoyed stand-up comedy would tune in to shows like ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ However today, one can easily enjoy it live in action. Stand-up comedy has been growing in popularity and the City has produced some of the best comedians of the country.

An hour may promise us a few good laughs but as the artistes point out, days of preparation go behind each show. Kenneth Sebastian, who is a part of the comedy group ‘Polished Bottoms’, recently released an hour-long session of his antics on YouTube. “I took two years to write that!” he exclaims. “We practise each joke around 40 to 100 times. We remove whatever is not making us laugh. So what is left is a polished sentence, each word of which will make everyone laugh,” he adds.

According to him, the scene in the City has changed a lot over the years. “Earlier, there were only five stand-up comedians but today, there are at least 20. We have clubs like the ‘Bangalore Comedy Club’ and get to do so many shows. There are times when I do 15 to 20 shows a month. But I try and ensure that each show is different,” says Kenneth, who was part of ‘The Improv’ earlier. He feels that stand-up comedians should realise that the Indian audience is quite sensitive. “So I keep most of my jokes clean. I also feel that everyone should get what I am saying. So I don’t do jokes on Bollywood. I focus on regular things like relationships,” says the effervescent comedian whose next show will be on December 3 in Opus.

One of the few women in the field, Richa Kapoor is known for her work titled ‘The Adventures of Richa and Sumukhi’, which she does with fellow comedienne Sumukhi Suresh. “We want to break the stereotypes and have our work speak for itself,” she says. A former teacher, Richa is currently back to college and balances her work and academics with ease. “We do a lot of personality building projects for women,” she adds. Is it more challenging for a woman in the field? “The challenges that I have faced are probably the same as the ones faced by my male counterparts. But when I am called as the girl who made people laugh, I feel all my efforts are worth it,” she answers. With the City playing host to a number of shows, she says, “Nowadays, any one can see stand-up nights at places like Urban Solace and B-Flat.” 

Speaking of stand-up nights, Sanjay Manaktala is one of the most popular faces at these venues. “I don’t know if I am popular but you can say I am the funniest,” jokes the bubbly comedian in his crisp American accent. Work brought him to Bengaluru from the United States, where he entered the field. “When I first started, people weren’t aware of stand-up comedy. Many of them would end up going for the same shows again and again,” says the artiste, who describes his jokes as pertaining to “quarter-life crisis”.

Though many comedians in the City love to poke fun at politicians, he remarks, “No one wants to see me make fun of a politician in my American accent!” On being asked about the challenges the artistes face, he says, “It’s tough to adapt your material to different places and get venues to support you.”

Most stand-up artistes say that the art can be pursued full-time. However, Sanjay feels that budding stand-up artistes can’t expect to do stand-up comedy full-time.
“I would recommend that they pursue it for at least two years in tandem with a day job and then take a leap of faith,” he sums up.

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