Not A Joke Anymore

Got what it takes to tickle people’s funny bone? Stand-up comedy could be your calling...

Imagine walking up to a stage with hundreds of eyes looking at you. You are in the spotlight and everybody is hanging on to your words, and if you don’t tickle their funny bones, the next five minutes are going to seem like a lifetime!

Welcome to the world of stand-up comedy! Stand-up comedy in India has been growing steadily over the years and the legion of stand-up comedians has been amassing strength. What started off with Indian comedy shows on television has now expanded horizons and has become a serious avenue for those who have the ability to induce laughter.

But most of the stand-up comedians fall at the first hurdle of their first open mic/show and tell themselves that they are not meant for this profession. When we asked Rajasekhar Mamidanna (a.k.a RSM), an MBA graduate-turned stand-up comedian based out of Hyderabad who is currently riding on the success of his show ‘The Legend of Ram’, about his experience the first time he faced an audience for a show, he replied, “I had mixed feelings of the experience. But I remember telling myself I will do this again.”

And that is what separates the wheat from the chaff in the world of stand-up comedy. That they keep at it even when some jokes fail to connect with the audience. In fact, according to Rajasekhar, if one of his jokes doesn’t work, he has learnt to move on from it like he never intended that to be a joke at all!

Lucrative career

Once you have started out and put together a show which delivers on the laughter quotient, a stand-up comedian can earn anywhere between ₹5,000 – ₹10,000 per show and it keeps growing from there. Once you create a brand in stand-up comedy and carve out a niche for yourself, you can steadily build up momentum and even charge Rs. 1 lakh and above for corporate gigs and stadium shows depending on the size of the crowd you manage to pull.

So, what are the skills you require to actually give becoming a stand-up comedian its fair due of consideration?

To start with, you can get a measure of how effective your humour can be by taking part in the various open-mics that have become commonplace in most cities. Start building on your sense of humour and get rid of the beginner’s jitters. You can then look at building the skill sets you have and also the ones you need to have. With crucial aspects of timing and connecting with the audience in mind, stand-up comedians need to be able to think on their feet and connect two ideas in a very short span of time.

They need to be able to gauge the mood of the audience and fine tune the show to suit it practically real-time. In fact, according to Alexander Babu of the ‘Yogi and the Bear’ stand-up comedy fame, a stand-up comedian has to be “Brave, light and shameless.”

The stand-up comedy scene in India is still on a path of growth. He says, “The comedy scene in India is still in the nascent stage. There is so much of truth to be told. It is easy to complain about intolerance and lack of freedom. But the artistes hold the responsibility of carrying out the change by spreading joy and love through laughter.”

If humour is a piece of cake for you, or even if you think that the cake is half-baked but can get better with practice, give being a stand-up comedian some serious thought, because being in the funny business is not a joke anymore.

Mala Mary Martina CEO, I Love Mondays

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