A Boy Is No One

I haven’t written a post in about two months. The best part about that is nobody noticed/cared. I realized that’s the beauty of being unknown. It’s what made this year the best comedy phase of my 5-year journey as a so called ‘comic’. Not like I was getting stopped at streets back home by fans and drowning in cash even during demonetization because my fatness jokes were path-breaking and I deserved red roses to be eloquently hurled every time I stepped on stage. But, I was some guy my Facebook friends and a few comedy regulars knew did something in and around comedy. However, moving to New York made me something I didn’t realize I truly needed to be, and that was, a nobody.

When I entered my first open mic here with 35 comics and absolutely no audience, even before I reached that stage in a cold Queens basement, my ego got buried way below. I was on and off even before I could register much and this kept happening for months. But, the best part was I took it all with a smile. I knew there was just one thing I had to relentlessly keep doing. Be honest to the art. Keep writing and performing without expecting anything in return because I had nothing to lose. And that’s when I improved the most. Soon, I truly became no one. I eventually started killing harder than I ever had and kept wanting more.

Here’s the thing with laughter though. It corrupts you. However thick skinned you try to be and do not care about how people react to what you say, it’s a necessary evil. How often have you seen a comic you thought was bloody amazing turn into a hack and do sell out jokes to just get the laughs? I have a list. And I genuinely feel sad for them. That was the first thing I had decided in New York, to not be THEM.

So, coming back. The start was great. A lot of learning, falling and moulding. However, soon that stopped. I started bombing differently. Or rather bombing the same way but taking it differently. Suddenly I was getting low after mics and feeling worthless. I bombed straight for the next 6 months with just one single kill. 1/67. Pretty cool track record  for a ‘professional comic’, don’t you agree? I was loving my jokes but they weren’t killing like before. And I couldn’t explain this phase until yesterday, when I read a few of the initial posts in this blog. Which if you have followed, definitely sound more interesting and thoughtful than this naive rant that you’re probably just reading cause you’ve read till here.

The problem is I began expecting. I wanted my jokes to do something. Kill, make me look smart or simply be liked. And even though that’s the desired outcome of comedy, it’s in all honesty pure dishonesty. If you’re delivering a joke with expectations, it’s one of the following few things: safe, half-hearted, lazily-written or just bad.

The most important part of being no one is wanting nothing. It’s about selflessly doing something to not achieve anything. That’s when you grow freely. Learn without liability and achieve without wanting to. I’m not saying don’t be ambitious, just don’t be greedy. It took me 66 silent nights and hundreds of dollars to get reminded of the most basic virtue of doing comedy. And even though I’ve identified the mistake, rectifying it will once again take a lot more unlearning. I have approximately 10 weeks to go here before I head back to Mumbai for a bit. I can do this two ways now. Take the pressure and rush through the process to go back and be this ‘supposedly better comic just because he performed outside’ or lovingly hone the art at my own pace and be true to myself even if that means making no money back home and begging for stage time.

It’s a tough choice if I want to become some one, but a super easy one if I want to feel the happiness of being a no one.

I guess I better start framing request messages for spots then.

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