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Decocting Karthik Kumar’s Second Decoction

Vasudha Srinivasan | June 19, 2016


This is a review of a standup show I recently attended.

In his second special, Second Decoction, Karthik Kumar, using personal  experiences, comments on the life of the Indian middle class.

And that’s all I have. Not because the show was short; not because the show was bad; not because I forgot to bring a pen.

It boils down to one simple reason: I was laughing too hard to take any notes.

Believe me I tried hard. I tried taking notes diligently in the first 15 minutes, fighting my urge to throw my head back , fighting the heaving of my shoulders but it was just too much. I look back at my notes after the show and they are a mess of squiggles, evidence of my pen running off the paper as I was doubled over in laughter.

And serves me right, because I cannot  claim that I was not forewarned, not just once but twice by his fellow comedians on what an experience Karthik Kumar is. If you’re not convinced, here’s THE reason YOU REALLY MUST, HAVE TO, REALLY SHOULD watch Second Decoction.

Because, it’s more than a comedy show, it’s a performance.

Karthik Kumar is a talented actor and it shows. The material was undoubtedly good, but in the hands of another, it is likely that it would have stayed “just good”. But in the hands of Karthik? It transforms into an experience. Unlike other stand up comics, this is a comedian who knows the value of stage presence and  how to work it. Material as personal as his life story, benefit from his theatrical flair.

He stands in the middle when he has a point to make but other than that, he is leaping across the floor, tiptoeing back to the middle , flinging his arms wide and waggles his eyebrows as he berates, conspires and cajoles you to open up to you memories and his insights. And when you don’t, this is a man who knows the value of a good pause. He waits until you get uncomfortable, cocks an eyebrow and browbeats you with a single “That was one of my best jokes in this show, come on!”

The routine is tight, and stays that way through most of the show. And it’s simply because his material is focused. Karthik picks a few episodes from his life but takes you through them in such descriptive detail – the phrase “the last bits of the masala clinging to the coriander” should give you an idea of the detail- you live through every anecdote with him as you also recall your memories and live through them at the same time. Jokes and punchlines, which could have stayed as clever wordplay (and believe me, there are many!), are elevated to a narrative.

The opening of his second half was not as lively as his first, and it could be because some of the political content may not have resonated with a Singapore audience. But one also has that feeling because he sets the bar (and energy) so high in the first half, that it would be difficult to sustain that engagements. Yet, within a span of few jokes, he regains the audience as he moves into the final story of his narrative, combining all the elements of his first half and topping it off with his signature style.

And while I might claim that I need to write a more nuanced review, this is truly why I can’t wait to enjoy the second decoction of Second Decoction!

Get your tickets on SISTIC at Evam presents Karthik Kumar’s Second Decoction – 19th June at 4pm


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Vasudha Srinivasan

The Indian Ahlian (sometimes known as Vasudha Srinivasan) is 99.99 % Indian with a pinch of something else. She sketches because she is much better at doodling her thoughts than speaking her mind. Find out more about her at here or tweet her @indianahlian. Other articles by this author



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