How do you interpret comedy?
Comedy is a cathartic experience and a comedian is a writer with a voice.
Do you come across non-scripted funny moments on stage?
I recently had an extremely funny situation on stage. I was invited to perform at an engineering institute in Jaipur. Beginning from the dean of the college and right up to the students, not a single soul there spoke English. I made my status of an English stand-up comedian amply clear but was met with replies like ‘Sir aap karo to sahi, hum samajh lenge!’ I ended up translating my entire performance for the crowd including the opening line, “Aap sab kaisa mehsoos kar rahe hain?” It was hilarious. More ridiculous was when they asked me to perform again soon!
What is the future of comedy in India?
The current crop that we have has a lot of potential. There is already a flood of online content but in the coming years, live stand-up acts will gain more popularity. The trend is already on a rise. But I also feel that our lot will witness some kind of suppression. Someone might soon get arrested too! Anyone in any part of this country can file a frivolous lawsuit for political gains. I received similar threats recently as well.
Do you edit your script to play safe on stage?
Yes, very much. The audience comprises of a wide variety of people and there are repercussions of offending them. In the west if a community is offended by some joke, they might choose to ostracize the comedian’s future acts. Indians, however, are less tolerant and might stone my house! It is honestly psychotic. We have handed too much power to idiots in our country. But one can always be smarter about one’s criticism. And that is what I try to do.
Both your books have female vigilantes in the lead. Do you think comedy impacts society in the same way cinema and art does?
It certainly does. Frankly, people listen to you because you are funny. But the same opportunity can be taken to floor solutions for a problem. It helps in shedding light on topics and opening a discussion in the public domain.