'I like comedy that does not make fun of victims'

'I like comedy that does not make fun of victims'

Karunesh Talwar's latest release comedy show is about childhood, love, family and everything in between

Stand up comedian Karunesh Talwar says Indians in the humour business have it easier than their counterparts in the West.

After his hilarious stand-up special, ‘Pata Nahi Par Bolna Hai’, left the audience in splits, Karunesh Talwar is back with another stand-up special, ‘Aalas Motaapa Ghabraahat’, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. In a candid interview with Metrolife, Karunesh talks about his journey as a stand-up comedian.

What got you into comedy?

I was very fortunate to get to travel a lot since I was a child. My father had bought a bunch of VHSs, and one of them was a stand-up special. I saw that special when I was 12 years old, and I got obsessed with comedy. Around the time I turned 18, a comedy club opened in Mumbai, and my friends encouraged me to try it out. They figured that I would be decent at it, so I went and did my first open-mic, and I realised that I am pretty addicted already, so I just kept going.

Do you have a bit of your own that you would call your favourite? Why?

I cannot, really. When you start writing a bit, you have excitement for it. But it takes a long time to get a bit ready, and after you tape it and upload it, you don’t even think about it after that because you have lived with it for so long that you get tired of it. Every bit starts off with excitement and ends with – “I am sick of it, let’s just record it and get it out of the way so I can write something new”. It is hard to pick a favourite bit, but there is one joke that I really enjoyed doing. That was a joke about the film Hera Pheri, where the observation was all the songs are just sounds. I really enjoyed doing that because that was a fun observation.                                                                                                    

Have you ever been heckled in a show?  

There is never a comedian who has never been heckled. Whether you have done it for six months or ten years, it doesn’t matter. You get heckled, and you get heckled mercilessly. So that is a skill that you have to develop that how you deal with that. But if I could use your platform to say this – if you are going to a stand-up show be a good audience, don’t get too drunk, and don’t shout at the performer because what they are attempting to do is a very vulnerable and a very difficult thing to pull-off. Nobody would like it if somebody came to their workplace and insulted them.

Your Western counterparts feel more free on stage. Do you think the audience in the West is more mature?

The comedy circuit in the West is just far-older than the comedy circuit in India. It is not the case that people don’t get offended in the West. Live stand-up comedy has existed in the UK and the US for five times the number of times it has existed in India. It is unrealistic for us to expect there to be that level of freedom to say whatever we feel like. Having said that, absolute freedom of speech would be nice. Still, we cannot ignore the other advantages that being a comedian in India gives you. It would be far more challenging to set up a career in the UK or the US in the way that I have been able to over here.

Which contemporary phenomena should never be the subject of comedic performances?

The kind of comedy I like is comedy that does not make fun of victims. So a person who is downtrodden, underprivileged, or a victim of a horrible thing, if you are taking a person like that and making fun of them, that is personally the kind of comedy that I do not enjoy. 

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