‘Stand-up comedy is an art form with good writing’


WHO Mumbai-based stand-up comedian, Tanmay Bhat is part of India’s only comedy company, Weirdass Comedy. He has written scripts for shows such as Bring On the Night (MTV). He co-founded India’s only comedy podcast, All India Bakchod.

Tanmay Bhat, 25, Stand-Up Comic

How important is profanity to comedy?
One doesn’t need to be profane to tell a joke, unless the joke is about profanity. Sadly, Indian audiences aren’t very refined. They laugh at Hindi abuses, political lampooning or celebrities being called names. So comics cuss on stage to elicit laughter and get away with it. Good comedy needs to be better written and challenging. However, profanity does help emphasise a point coming from an angry place or a place of immense enthusiasm. “Dude, that restaurant has really bad food” says the restaurant food isn’t great. “Dude, that restaurant is f**king awful” says that the food gave you, your family and your whole neighbourhood diarrhoea.

What inspired India’s only comedy podcast, All India Bakchod?
The aim of All India Bakchod is not just to make jokes, but to create an archive of people in India’s comedy scene. G Khamba, the co-founder, and I hope to make them accessible to anyone willing to listen. Thus, the second half of the podcast has candid interviews with people who have influenced the Indian comedy scene, such as Russell Peters, Raju Srivastava and others.

How impromptu is stand-up comedy?
People harbour the misconception that comics tell jokes off the top of their head. Stand-up comedy is an art form, requiring writing, practice, testing, honing. A comic adds layers to a joke until it becomes a well-rounded set. An act needs good writing and theatrical abilities. It is premeditated like sketch comedy, although the two are different. Sketch is character and situation driven, while stand-up is personality driven. It’s the difference between a play and a monologue.

How important is social media to a comic?
In India, since the comedy market hasn’t developed, social media is a handy tool to capture audiences. When I advertise my show online, I end up getting people who otherwise wouldn’t have come. When our podcast went live, we sold 300 tickets solely through Twitter.

Esha Vaish


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