I’ve been meaning to start this documentation for about two months now. But, I thought getting some new jokes, before starting to talk about how they’re not working, might be a better plan. Also, the point of this blog is to be free from the pressure of being funny and purely vent out my regular off-stage escapades. So, if you want the ‘Cool on social media- oh he’s so funny Deep’, I have a YouTube channel, you can check that out instead. I know, I’ll upload more videos soon, stop fretting.
So, for those who know, and those who don’t (you don’t really stalk, do you?) I moved to the United States in January 2017 to take up a course in advertising as a sneaky excuse to figure the comedy scene in its birthplace, New York.
Honestly, it’s an uphill task to delve into the specifics of all the shows I’ve done here till now. But, the plan of action is to at least initially establish the stark differences in the Indian and American comedy scenarios, so it becomes easier from hereon.
Here are where the stakes at. The Indian English (Hinglish, to be honest) Stand Up Comedy showbiz is roughly about 6-7 years old. Whereas, the American comedy circuit started off in the 1950’s (approx). Which means, it’s almost 10 times bigger, 10 times more chewed up and 10 times more brutal. Oh 10 is an unjustified number for that last one. All of India has just 3 legit comedy clubs, Manhattan alone has 12 (I’m just counting the good ones). India according to me has 150-175 comics, US has 1,00,000-1,10,000. You get where this is going right?
So, yeah leaving the comfort of my city, crowds and CLC, I knew I was entering a fire circus. Which is why, I did something I would never have the guts to do back home, especially cause I was getting paid for gigs. I rebooted. It’s something I’ve always told myself, “When you don’t know where you’re going, just go back to the start.” Also, very honestly, I had no option. My last few months in Mumbai were creatively the worst months of my 4-year comedy stint. No substantial thoughts, no time investment, and the saddest of them all, no regret for being fuckall.
Coming back, so I discarded 45 minutes worth material (will be putting it out slowly, so you guys don’t forget me) and made a small plan on how to restart. For the first two weeks, I didn’t get on stage. I purely invested in catching all types of shows. Saw the pro-nights at the Greenwich Comedy Club and the Broadway Comedy Club, a rising star type thingy at the Village Lantern, a funeral-ish open mic at The Creek and the Cave and long form improv at The PIT. What fun but expensive that was. A Friday night show at Greenwich is 25 dollars plus two drinks minimum inside. That’s 3,000 rupees, for one freaking show. I could hear my dad’s voice echo in the background, saying, “That is someone’s monthly salary naalayak”. In addition to that, I also started watching one comedy special a day. Try it. It makes travel time really interesting.
Anyway, what that basically did was, it gave me a sneak peek into the comedy/crowd culture and a sense of the playing field. Next, I wrote 3 minutes of new material and showed up at an open mic at the Creek and the Cave. The great thing about NY is that you have a minimum of 10 mics on every day of the week (check them out on freemics.com), so getting on stage isn’t a problem. The problem is getting in front of an actual crowd. 90 percent of the mics have only comics in the audience, and we all know how much a human loves to laugh at another human he/she considers as competition. Also, I was getting on stage after a month so the rust was factoring in, plus these basements are super unnerving. So, this is what happens, I go up there after 21 people, talk for three minutes, just create sound, not get any familiar homo-sapien reaction, just pure sound and in return soak in the silence, get off and leave, like nothing ever happened. Did this 4 times in one week at different clubs, so shame doesn’t correlate to geography.
This is getting really long and I think I should stop for now. I’ll leave you with this though. I’m two months in. I’ve done 16 shows, out of which 2 were proper shows in front of medium-sized audiences, and honestly those two were few of the most fulfilling ones I’ve done in a really long time. They made bombing at the other 14 so worth it. I’ve reached tight 7 minutes. March is here. The aim is to have a universal 60 minutes that I can tour in December. Not sure if I’ll make it. The process however is liberating. My outlook has had a complete turn-around and now comedy is becoming more innate and sacred with each passing day.
Thanks for reading this. If you have any questions or want me to talk about something, feel free to comment. I’ll be happy to share. Will try making this a weekly thing. For now, it’s a goodbye friends and hello brutal.