Vasudha Srinivasan | June 17, 2016
Author’s Note: This article contains “adult themes and strong language”. It may not be suitable for the young (or those who only like weak words)
KK: And if you don’t recognise her statement as a joke, she will tell you at the end it’s a joke.
SP: By the way, that sounds like my set
Here in town to liven up our June , we had a hilarious conversation with Karthik Kumar and Sorabh Pant (of EIC fame) and doing a shameless plug of their comedy specials happening this weekend at SOTA. And while Mr Daniel F couldn’t join in the ‘masti’, he contributed his thoughts in writing. (All the better to get him in trouble with)
A conversation with Karthik and Sorabh is a study in contrasts. Sorabh Pant is a fast talking bundle of energy, breaking up his constant quips with a statement so profound, you do need a moment to process while Karthik is the ever dapper philosopher, rolling out his sentences as he weighs his thoughts. As Sorabh elegantly exclaimed, “Every time Karthik talks, I’m already rubbing my nipples.”
Displaying an easy camaraderie that isn’t seen enough in show business, they both wielded their quick wit, comedic talent and rambunctious laughter in equal measure. On a roll, trading barbs (but not drawing blood), they relished every opportunity to build up and tear each other down (and the absent Daniel F), but clearly, feeding off the energy and deriving inspiration from each other as they jested. Judging from his written responses, there is a part of me that regretted the absence of Daniel F as I’m sure he would have only elevated the conversation.
The end result? You, as an observer, become breathless with laughter as you are in turn charmed, delightfully outraged and provoked into poignancy. Clearly, spending two hours with these gentlemen this weekend would be no hardship.
And I’m pretty sure I won’t regret it the morning after either!
Sorabh Pant (SP): Oh my god. Are we actually doing this?
Karthik Kumar (KK): He had two parents. They met. I think they made a girl first. She was quite intelligent and then they made a demented little boy called Sorabh.
[If you didn’t know, SP’s sister is Meghna Pant, an award winning author.]
SP: My sister was this classy person when she came out and then became insane for a while before I took over the mantle of being the asshole. Seriously, as a rule, I’m not a big fan of my own comedy. In 8 years of writing of comedy, I am most happy with the material on this show because it’s me doing anecdotes and it’s personal. The biggest step for a comedian is when they start talking personally about their own life because that can never be stolen by anyone else.
KK: I have a “proper” Tambrahm upbringing, that is I was made to study and study and study and study and study… until they finally released me from this torture to let me do whatever I wanted to do.
Unfortunately for them, I chose arts and entrepreneurship, two things Tambrahm households are usually like “What the hell, you’re choosing the exact two things we don’t want you to do!” So that worked out well! The truth is, as long as I’m not dipping into my Dad’s savings, he’s fine with it. We haven’t come to that stage yet but if this weekend’s shows don’t go well, then I might have to do that.
SP: KK isn’t telling you the truth. His parents combined their respective juices and left it overnight and the next morning he was born, exactly like filter coffee.
KK: I don’t want to talk about my parents’ juices.
(Author Note: I was abundantly clear that I didn’t wish to talk about their juices, or their parents juices either. )
Daniel Fernandes (DF): I tried Stand-up for the first time in 2011 during my MBA in Pune, it went well. Then I moved to Bombay and the scene started to take off. So I hit the open mics and worked my way up. A breakup, career crossroads and a Metallica concert later, I decided to throw it all away and do comedy full-time. It’s been 5 years since, and so far so good.
[HINT HINT: You can tell who participated by way of email]
SP: F**k Daniel Fernandes. He’s not here!
SP: Yes please!
KK: Actually, that’s part of his show. F**k Daniel Fernandes, is usually what happens post show!
Sorabh’s show is really significant. To me, he is the big daddy of the comedy world and all of us at some point of time, have watched his show and thought, “this is how we need to crack a room!” And from that, if he’s getting into a space that’s anecdotal and unique, (because this is what he is going through), you have to watch him. If you ever have watched a 30 minute-r of Sorabh in the past 5 years, you have to catch him live. This is the next level of his evolution as an artist.
SP: So I just want to tell you about Karthik’s show, it’s F**k all. Don’t watch it…it’s shit. His show is about himself. His parents decided to have him so he could have this show. You see how complicated this is?
Ok listen, the fact that Karthik has a theatre background, shows up in his standup. That’s important. And a lot of comedians have done this bit about middle class Indians but Karthik is doing some crazy landmark stuff. Sapan Verma and I saw a first draft of his show in Mumbai and there were so many bits in the middle where it was just extraordinary. In fact, at the end of the first half, we turned to each other and were like “F**k we need to work on our specials a little harder!”
If I, as an imbecilic “North Indian” understood the entire point of the show, irrespective of which ever region you come from, you can watch it.
KK: I am really looking forward to seeing Sorabh because I want to hear where he’s coming from. I have always found him hilariously funny and this is personal, I want to hear it.
SP: Since we’re complimenting each other…
KK: No. I’m curious…I’m not overcommitting here.Also, I truly believe he only had a child for content purposes. He was going through a phase in life where he was running out of content and he said “okay, Let’s make a baby. I can write a special out of it!”
SP: Listen, I wish I could deny the fact but it’s true. Literally, this is what happened. My wife said “let’s have a kid” and I was like “eeughh” and then she said, “No really let’s have a kid” and in my head, I was like “No comedian in India has a child yet so let’s do this…!”
KK: None of us can afford to!
SP: Hey, we’ll earn our money in Singapore!
DF: For me it doesn’t matter which part of the country the audience is from. Beyond a certain point of cultural sensibilities, we’re all equally messed up, and that is what I thrive on as a comedian.
KK: Sorabh is an intelligent artist, so you don’t quite get a north Indian voice as much as you get the voice of an intelligent, artistic comedian who can also do the most random, silliest nonsensical crap on stage.
When you watch Sorabh, you get the full range. He can be absolutely incisive and intelligent about a point and then suddenly, he’ll go rub his nipples on stage. You get that range from him. To me, watching him, you get to watch one of the very very very good standup comics from India.
SP: We get asked this question a lot with regards to “ this show is X, so will X people be coming to watch it. There is a perception about going for shows on the basis of how you will relate to it. If you say “Oh, Second Decoction is a very South Indian term , it is a show about South Indians and I shouldn’t see it.”
The thing is, you still watch a show like “How to be a Murderer” without being a murderer or watch “Game of Thrones”, despite none of us ever having dragons. If a show is good, it’s worth watching for anyone.
The worry is that there will be a few colloquialisms in the show that you won’t get but that isn’t the entire show . You’re usually performing to a wider audience, especially in a place like Singapore. You ensure that it’s not pertaining to a certain segment only.
Again if you read and you have travelled, you would know what the hell is happening in the world. I mean, if you don’t know common South Indian references, then well, you’re a stupid person. You don’t need need to “be a” South or North Indian or a father or a mother to understand different viewpoints.
SP: Yeah. Like I’m rich and I still watched Karthik’s show.
On an unrelated note, the other day I calculated how much of my money I spend on myself – its 3%. So my son is rich. Also, Karthik, he knows all the specific south Indian references. I asked him what is second decoction and he said “ehpahbehopthhhh”.
KK: That’s exactly what it’s about. He gets me man, he gets me!
SP: Mine was entirely inspired by Evam. When I was last in Singapore, they had given my son a teeshirt saying “My dad think he’s funny!”
Karthik: There’s a certain modesty associated with the middle class. The middle class of this country are not the go getters, they don’t want to come first, they don’t want the attention. For example, in a theater, if there were empty seats , the middle class mentality is to sit in the third row and not the first row because somebody else will take it. It’s the thinking that I’m sure, I don’t deserve the first row. If you are a rich guy, who grew up middle class, he will also be a middle class alumni.
Anybody can be middle class, it’s a mindset.
[As for Daniel’s show, SP decides to explain in his absence…]
SP: Let me explain to the title of Daniel’s show. It means Daniel is not dead. He is alive. He is still living, in case you had any doubt.
[but Daniel has since clarified…]
DF: A lot of people who attend my shows have mostly watched me on YouTube first. When I started the channel the idea was to get people to like my work enough for them to come catch a live show. Hence, the title ‘Daniel Fernandes Live’. My next show is going to be titled ‘Gotcha! Daniel has your money’
KK: The joke has to be the leanest meanest punchiest version of itself.
As a comic, your first few years are about trying to understand where the joke lies. You know there is something funny but you don’t know where it is. A joke is an art by itself and its a great, fun art to discover. You never really nail it. You always have to find your next joke, where does the audience find it funny. And where do you want them to find it funny.
SP: When writing, there are zero shortcuts to this whole thing. For example, this show took about two years, coincidentally the same amount of time my son has existed. In 2015, when I came to Singapore, I had to develop 30mins for the show “EIC vs Bollywood”. The stuff you see on stage is an approved version of what we have. When you see a show on stage, that is us trying out a whole page of it and then discovering only two lines of it work. It’s trial and error always. And this is why I like working with Evam because we have a similar work ethic – everyone works hard and everyone is a big performer.
DF: It’s the easiest thing in the world. But don’t tell anyone. We don’t want any competition.
DF: I hope so. I’m not as terrible as I used to be when I started out, so I’m guessing that counts for progress
SP: A simple example. Every other show of mine has a pant in its name – Pants on fire, Travelling pants, every title had pun on the pants. This is the first time I decided, I’m not going to put pant in the name because the show is little more evolved. Before, it was me coming up on stage and being a jackass. I’m still a jackass but there’s more thought now. This show comes from a place of happiness. It’s genuinely a celebration of parenthood; I f**king love my son.
My mother-in-law came for my show in Delhi and she mentioned there were lots of parts which were poignant. That was not my intention at all. I didn’t want that, it just happened. But let’s believe my mother-in-law when she says that I’m poignant.
KK: My first show, #PokeMe was a combination of stuff we all find funny. I was talking about airports in India, Jayalalitha and Modi; it was more generic. Similar to what Sorabh shared, this show is a lot more personal. You will find the engineering classmates I grew up with, my mother, my father, my great grandmother, my grandmother!
My mum and dad haven’t watched the show yet as I went to Mumbai, now Singapore and only next Chennai, but I can’t wait for them to see it. I’m sure they’d find it funny but will they recognise how I was seeing those episodes as we were going through it?
If you have gone through similar experiences, and you would have! All of us have stayed at a hotel for the first time, or we have cheated in exams – we have done all these things in life. I hope people identify that even as I am telling the story of my life, it’s their experiences and it resonates
SP: His mother-in-law told me that before his last show.
SP: Yes, she likes the word poignant. Poignant is such a poignant word, guys.
DF: It’s Singapore! It’s not like you have a lot to do anyway!
SP: My bacha’s education.
[KK was the only who understood the meaning of three languages]
KK: Sex on toast OR roti nalla otha OR doubleroti yon sambanda.
Actually, that should also describe Daniel’s show accurately. Sex on toast, after the show, during the show, maybe before the show.
[As KK literally shouts…]
KK: Can’t wait for us perform our shows together in Singapore because after the show, God knows where you’ll be…
SP: He’s going to be in my hotel room and we’re going to be having a second decoc(k)…!
For details one each of the shows by Evam Standup Tamasha:
1) Second Decoction by Karthik Kumar – Show 1 on 17th June (Friday) at 8pm
2) My Baby Thinks I’m Funny by Sorabh Pant – 18th June (Saturday) at 4pm
3) Daniel Fernandes LIVE – 18th June (Saturday) at 8pm
4) Second Decoction by Karthik Kumar – Show 2 on 19th June (Sunday) at 4pm
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