Papa CJ: The Big Daddy of comedy2 min read
“Comedy is like s*x, best enjoyed live and not on videos.” He leaves his audience in splits as he catches someone trying to capture his impeccable humor on a cell phone. For those who might find Papa CJ too bold enjoy him thoroughly however.
His references to the infamous John Lennon and Steven Wilson don’t change the fact that he has created a niche for himself. This stand-up comedian makes “being Indian” sound cool. Well, he also took India to the top ten on NBCs ‘Last Comic Standing’ in 2008.
Being in the field for eight years now, he is still a breath of fresh air. TMJ catches up with him for a little chat backstage after his performance at KMC Greens for Atharva. Excerpts from the interview:
Every class has this one student who stands out because of his/her wit. Were you the one in yours’?
I was. But I was intelligent too. My teachers used to make me sit in the corner of the classroom. I guess I was always one of those kids who finished their work early and would then just distract everyone else. They called me ‘the mastermind’.
So you’d say you were the trouble maker?
No. I was the Head Boy too!
How did comedy happen to you? Tell us about the career shift.
After getting an MBA from Oxford I worked as a management consultant for a bit. Stand-up comedy really was a ‘one-fine-day’ decision. I took a year off, during which I did everything from paragliding to playing poker in Las Vegas. While I was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I saw somebody perform and decided, “Hey! That looks like a good life.” And that’s how it started.
Do you depend on your material a lot or is it on the spot?
A bit of both, actually. I love the spontaneity involved while I perform. I like to improvise when I can. And the job is such that I get feedback every fifteen minutes, right? That helps a lot too.
What is the biggest challenge in this field?
You need to constantly improvise. You can’t keep saying the same thing, even when the crowd changes. ‘Flexing the comedy muscle’ of sorts.
What do you have to say about the stand-up scene in India?
Well, I started it! It’s live art form, more than a job. It’s the press that tends to make negative comment. The audience is pretty receptive.
Sub-edited by Priyanka Sharma