'My wife is my best critic'

'My wife is my best critic'

Standup act

'My wife is my best critic'

Chennai-based standup comedian Karthik Kumar or KK says that he felt like a teenage popstar after he spiralled to success in standup comedy.

Loved for his suave personality, KK’s talent is bringing social concerns to the forefront which never fails to spark off a gaggle of giggles.  Be it the city’s infrastructure or the eccentric Indian mindset, his shows are always a hit. He  shares his thoughts on the scene with Anushka Sivakumar.

You use  a lot of Tamil references while performing. Is this a conscious effort when you write?

I translate those jokes that require translation. I only deliver punches in Tamil as they don’t really need to be translated to understand the joke. For example, I performed in New Delhi recently about the eccentricities of the South Indian middle class. I slowly brought Delhiites into the context and once I realised that they understood what I was talking about, I delivered the punches in Tamil.

Most standup comedians do use their mother tongue in their script...

Yes. In terms of language, my English is very Tamil. I think we all speak ‘Indian English’. If I perform in the North, people come and ask me what ‘macha’ means after the show.

Chennai was a little slow to catch up on the standup comedy scene. How is the scene now?

It’s on fire. I can see an upsurge in standup comedy in the past 18-24 months. Students are very excited. They are listening to topics that are considered taboo and it gives them a real high. For them, it’s like rock music of the 1930s. I think the more conservative a city is, the more it needs standup comedy.

And how do you like Bengaluru’s standup comedy scene?

It’s lovely. Bengaluru picks up a cultural artform faster than any other city, even Mumbai. It’s compulsively cosmopolitan. They also pick up on the most subtle jokes.

Who do you try your jokes on first?

My wife. I also write about her sometimes. My wife is my best critic.

Can open-mics be misleading?

Yes, when there is an equal mix of comedians and non-comedians in the audience. We get a confusing response then.

Do you want to die a standup comedian?

Yes. This artform has changed me the most. I was wearing a mask when I was into cinema and theatre but I can’t do that here.

What is the difference between standup artistes and politicians?

I think we work on being funny and know when and how to do it. We work on our self-image. They are always hilarious and have no clue.

Are you scared about the competition here?

I’m not scared because I started early. If I had started with the younger lot today, I wouldn’t have made it. I don’t think the younger ones have to be scared but they have to work hard. Very, very hard.

What should I never ask a comedian?

Never ask them to be funny or tell you a joke. Off-stage, we only want to observe and stay quiet. Don’t make the world a stage for us. 

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