Manipal’s down for stand-up
Our generation has reached a point where stand-up comedy is considered as an actual career option and not just a mere pastime. With fame and money to gain, stand-up comedy has become an ideal profession for our fun-loving generation that believes more in having a secure and happy present than our generational predecessors. The Indian stand-up scene has blossomed and continues to strive to reach its full potential, with local comedians even venturing into international platforms with their work, such as Vir Das’ “Abroad Understanding” and Aditi Mittal’s “Things they wouldn’t let me say” (both titles are available on Netflix).
The stand-up circuit in India is abuzz with comedians coming from every corner of the nation, warmly welcomed by the more established and popular personalities of Indian comedy. Luckily for the audience, all this competition has led to a significant improvement in the quality of jokes. This popularity is not limited just to comedians who perform in English: Hindi stand-up has also received a very positive response and artists like Zakir Khan garnering over 10 million views online on his videos proves this.
The art of stand-up comedy has seen phenomenal success in the student hub of Manipal. The growth has been so quick yet smooth that some of the biggest names in the game have graced the town with their shows. With the more popular personalities being greeted with a full house for each of their multiple shows, Manipal has emerged as a town with enormous potential as a market for stand-up, with the student-dominated populace desiring for comedy shows to have a hearty laugh.
The enthusiasm of the young audience is apparent by the fact that a top comedian like Rahul Subramaniam is coming to perform here for the second time in a span of less than 3 months. Another promising show waiting to happen in Manipal features the current prodigy of Indian comedy, Biswa Kalyan Rath, with his show “LOLstars” organised by student-run club DL-101. With a high paced ticket sale, Manipal is all set to welcome the comedian with style and grandeur.
The fact that some of the most well-established stand-up comedians in the country have already held a show, or are soon performing in Manipal brings up the question of sustainability. How often will a club be able to afford and get a big artist, and how many comedians will come here multiple times? Such performers can come once a month to perform, but the demand for funny content is much greater.
To fill this vacuum, Manipal has started identifying fresh faces in this field, students mostly who aim to tickle the funny bones of the audience by talking about relatable problems and issues that Manipalites face: be it the rains, the snakes, or simply their sad existence (self-depreciating humour has done wonders). These young artists need not read the daily newspaper, or do extensive research for their content to ensure relatability. The familiarity with the entire atmosphere and the people around gives these budding comics an upper hand as they can freely work on their content and most importantly, on their delivery by merely observing their surroundings in their daily lives. As
Abhishek Sarin from UnTiedLaces (UTL) says, “Stand-up comedy for me has been an exhilarating journey. I actually started off on a whim a few years ago but I can still find myself scribbling down random thoughts and adding punchlines to them. It does change your outlook on a lot of things in life and in today’s world, a fresh perspective can do wonders.”
The local comedy circuit is gradually growing as student-run clubs like UTL, DL101 and Comedy Club Manipal have emerged as the new harbinger for the comedy scene in Manipal. Ankita Mondal from DL 101, neatly described the growth of stand-up comedy in Manipal. “The popularity of comics in India recently has taken off. It’s quite natural that a university town that is as diverse as Manipal has quite a firm fan base. The various popular artists coming in just proves that the crowd is thirsty for this genre of entertainment and organizations and clubs are just facilitating this requirement”, she elucidated.
Today, video sharing websites on the internet such as YouTube act as the new talent-hunting platforms for budding comics. A single video has the potential to make a brand out of a comedian. Another major contributor in subtly pushing the envelope of stand-up to the Indian youth has been All India Bakchod (AIB), the sensational content creators on the internet. Their sketches often feature stand-up comedians playing major roles. Comics like Zakir Khan, Rahul Subramaniam, Naveen Richard, Sumukhi Suresh and Utsav Chakraborty, among others, have found fame and attention due to these viral sketches, elevating them from being just a comic to a brand that can attract audiences with just their names.
With a predominantly young population, great internet connections, and a will to laugh, Manipal may not be far off from having its own local comics performing on a national scale. After all, as Abish Mathew, another ace stand-up comedian, singer, actor and talk-show host said, “if you do something for long enough, you either get good at it, or people just drop their standards and then you become good at it.”
In the interest of transparency, this article has been done as part of a media partnership with DL 101 in anticipation of two back-to-back shows on the 15th of January, 2018. The event will feature Biswa Kalyan Rath and Sumaira Shaikh and will be held at 7pm and 9pm at Syndicate Bank Golden Jubilee hall. Tickets are now available.
Edited by Sruti Srinivasan
Featured Image Courtesy: Aditya Mathur