A pocketful of jokes

A pocketful of jokes

Laugh riot

A pocketful of jokes

The typical Tamil standup comedian, from Chennai, who is extremely authentic to his upbringing and culture in his material, has had the world over laughing at his jokes. S Aravind, fondly known as ‘SA’, doesn’t back down from cracking jokes that are true to South India and has built up brand ‘Madras’. 

He is so honest that he openly admits if he has forgotten his script on stage rather than trying to cover it up. He also describes comedians as judgemental, shallow and opinionated as, such traits help them write great stories. Aravind talks to Anushka Sivakumar on his show in Bengaluru, on June 25, 6 pm, Ambedkar Bhavan, Vasanth Nagar and shares the funny side of himself. 

How did the journey to standup comedy happen?
I was always into arts as a child. Film, sports, television and theatre were some of my passions. I studied film and worked as an assistant director for various Tamil movies. It was a very bad job and I required an outlet to vent out my frustration. While some people went to psychiatrists, I went on stage and talked about my personal stories. It was all about frustration that was bottled up in my job and so many people would passionately relate to it. As I did more and more shows, I got better at them and decided to take to standup comedy full time. 

Your jokes are very South-Indian and rooted to your upbringing and culture. Do you tailor your material when you perform up North or abroad?
I am very unapologetic to the place where I come from. My first trick is always to close my eyes and tell myself that the audience are South Indians. However, when that doesn’t happen, I try to establish context and some middle ground before I start my jokes. I can’t straight away use slangs or punchlines as people won’t understand.

There is a huge outcry against videos that are put out today. Does this scare comedians?
There has always been this fear. We are aware of the repercussions but we can’t do anything about it. This is an occupational hazard and we have to be prepared for it. If we can take standing ovations and Facebook likes, we also have to be on the receiving end and accept brickbats hurled at us. I’m very thin-skinned so if something like this happens, I just have to keep telling myself that it’s okay. 
It’s very evident that you love your place and are proud to be from ChennaiYes, very much. It has given me a living. I made a career through the place’s eccentricities and I am happy to say that I have a ‘Madrasi’ influence which I am happy to hold on to. It’s quite hard for us to go out there and create a pan-Indian appeal but that is what I intend to do. Plus, I can’t live without filter coffee and curd rice. 

How does your writing evolve?
It goes through a lot of stages. I sit on it for one week. This involves thinking, discussing it with friends and trying out my material on open-mics. I then write, re-write and write more. 

Do you try out your jokes on your girlfriend first?
I have to try a girlfriend first. (subtle matrimonial advertisement).

Differences between the standup scene in Bengaluru and Chennai?
The content that comes out from Bengaluru in standup comedy is very diverse. The scene is so much more active too because there are a lot more comedians in the city who are doing this full time. There is a similar brand of humour that is always coming out of Chennai, the stereotypical ‘Madrasi’ humour. So one should perform in Bengaluru if they want to a wholesome experience.

What are your Bengaluru show’s highlights? 
It’s the ability to laugh at the ‘Madrasi’ trait in some of us. I think the ‘Madrasi’ represents the stereotype of a conservative person who is frustrated with expectations from all side. I think this is a common trait across South India.

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