For the love of puns!

For the love of puns!

For the love of puns!

He looks like Vinod Kambli and sounds like Sachin Tendulkar. He tempts you to ditch the deadly Blue Whale Challenge for his amusing Pink Dolphin Challenge. An erstwhile TV writer, Sorabh Pant took to stand-up comedy when the art form was still nascent in India.  

There's nothing subtle about the founder of The East India Comedy, who was recently in Bengaluru for the Black Dog Easy Evenings. From 'Pant on Fire' to 'Travelling Pants' and 'Rant of the Pant', Sorabh's style is, typically, over-the-top, with puns intended. Not surprisingly, he's a rage on twitter.

Excerpts from an interaction with the comedian and author, who considers Jon Stewart (American comedian, writer and TV host) the funniest of them all:

What's the best and worst part about being a comedian?

Travelling to so many places is the best part. Also, the people who come to see my show. It's awesome! However, sometimes people tend to get ridiculously vitriolic and hateful. But then, that comes with the territory. The worst part of being a stand-up comedian is that I spend a lot of time travelling alone, which means I get too much into my own head… which is not a very nice place! A comedian's head is a dark and weird place.

 Is Indian stand-up comedy on par with the world's best?

The stand-up comedy scene in places like the US, the UK, Australia, and, perhaps, Canada may be better than ours, but we are doing pretty well. Our output and audience response are great. New-age channels like YouTube, Netflix and Amazon have been very helpful. Not just the comedy shows, but the web series and experimental content out there is changing the future of entertainment.

Where in India do you find the most receptive audience?

I don't think they are in the metros. This year, I did shows in places like Bhopal, Indore, Nagpur and Nashik, and saw how excited the audience gets. They can't believe you came all the way there! But it's not so much about the city or the town; it's about the crowd. In that sense, college shows are usually the best. Sometimes, older audiences are very receptive too. I'm always happy to be surprised.

Of all your opening acts, which is the most memorable?

I've enjoyed them all, whether it was the opening act for Rob Schneider or Vir Das. All of them were fun. Nonetheless, if I had to choose one, it would be Wayne Brady. You may or may not find him funny, but his crazy work culture is quite something. He was in India for five days and we were taking 6 am flights to new locations every day. Despite the jetlag and everything else, he was always on the ball.

What's more challenging, writing comedy or books?

As a comedian, you usually write with your brain. The best jokes, though, are those that have heart. I've started to realise this now, so my writing is more personal. I try to use my heart and soul too. With stand-up comedy, it takes a long time to get to crack the joke you want. But the good thing is that you get feedback from the audience every night. Writing fiction, on the other hand, takes a lot of focus and hard work. It needs structure, organic flow, characters with motivations. I've written two novels and the third will be out this November. It has been five years in the making! 

Ultimately, both kinds of writing come with their own challenges.

How has becoming a parent changed you?

If I didn't have children, I would have just headed out to the US or Canada and honed my stand-up comedy skills However, when you have a family to support, you have to keep working. Your son's playschool fees have to be paid, daughter's diapers bought. There's no leeway to be lazy, which is a good thing. It keeps you pretty grounded. 

Besides, kids are more joyful than anything else you can have in life. And I'm not saying that because I have two of them!

Is stand-up comedy a viable career option?

Yes, it is, but don't expect it to be easy. Even if you have two videos that go viral, you have to keep at it for years. I've been a stand-up comedian for nine years and I can tell you that it's not a place for lazy people. A word of advice for aspirants: don't quit your day job right away.

What keeps you so active on social media?

I like following news, and am fascinated by people's opinions. So, I love twitter. Initially, I didn't quite understand Snapchat and Instagram, so I had to figure out a way to like them. And with Facebook, I love doing live video streaming. Basically, I like to interact with people, as long as they are not ****heads. I try be relatively balanced, even though many people may think I'm not.

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