SUNDEEP'S INTERVIEW WITH NDTV
Mumbai's Stand up Comedians keep audience in the dark!
Ever wondered how it would feel to attend a stand-up comedy or a poetry recitation session where you cannot see the artiste clearly? It's not a production glitch. Of late, many venues in the city are capitalising on this trend and witnessing a rise in the number of events performed in the dark from stand-up comedy to poetry readings. We talk to a few artistes about the nocturnal lure.
THE COMFORT OF DARKNESS
Performing in the dark involves not only dissociation with the audiences, but also gives performers a ground to speak freely without any judgment. Sudeip Nair, organiser of comedy in the dark, says, "The idea behind these events is to do away with the gimmick¬ry that comes along with comedy physical, facial expressions and mock¬ing others, among many things. It can get a little disorienting for viewers and performers, too." He adds that in such cases as the content is the hero, it's a gratifying experience for many. Sundeep Sharma, who performs stand-up comedy and recites poetry in the dark, says, "It's a beautiful coinci¬dence that when we are performing with lights on, we can still not see the audi¬ence as the lights blind us. While execut¬ing an act in the dark, we are much more focused and don't rely on histrionics. Given that I am also a voiceover artiste, it's like a radio drama for me." Stand-up comedian Zakir Khan emphasises that these events are an apt platform for artistes who tend to get nervous easily. "There are times when the external dynamism of a performer or a reader is influenced by the audi¬ence's reactions. There are some talent¬ed writers who cannot perform well; for them, such events are a great opportuni¬ty. Performing in the dark is a lot like making a small-budget movie; it has to be made well because there's no way you can have an item number in it," he adds.
NOT COMPLETELY INCONSPICUOUS
It may seem that darkness stands for anonymity. But most agree that it does not necessarily allow them to speak just about anything. Says Sudeip, "If an artiste says something controversial, he can't get away with it. The lights are on post the performances anyway" Sundeip adds, "At times, it gets a little disorienting for the audience as well as the per-formers." For some, remembering the content by heart is also a hurdle. So while Zakir agrees that it is better to remember poems by heart, he agrees that "thodi bahut light honi chahiye. Koi bhool gaya toh?" However, he is quick to add, "Every performance has a rhythm to it. After a minute or two, it picks up. For a good performer, it doesn't matter whether there are lights or not. Performer achcha ya bura life mein hota hai; woh chhole kulche bhi bech lega. The voice modulation and throw of your words matter the most."
NOT JUST PERFORMANCES, THE THEMES, TOO ARE DARK
Stand-up comedy in India became a regular thing only in the last two years where pubs and bars have weekly shows featuring the newer bunch of amateur comedians. And while they were dark earlier, there was never a case where an entire show was based on dark humor. Now, however, a handful of such shows attract a strong crowd. Comedy promoter Punit Pania, who is also a comedian, hosts a few such shows where the material is dark and edgy with sharp humor and enjoys high-occupancy rates. When asked why he hosts shows with dark themes, Pania says, "Dark humor like dark chocolate is an acquired taste. Once you learn to appreciate it, regular chocolate tastes like a conspiracy" Comedian Reuben Kaduskar, who has also participated in a couple of such shows, feels they can make one think, although the route they take to get to the audience is different. "Dark humour has always intrigued me because not only does it make you think, it's also interesting to see different perspectives on a matter"
IS THE AUDIENCE RECEPTIVE TO IT?
One may think that due to easy exposure to content, the audience's tastes may have evolved. But Punit adds that there is still some resistance. "Viewers do turn up but most are guarded as they are unsure if it's appropriate to laugh at certain topics. This is despite the fact that they have booked the ticket themselves after reading the show description," he adds. Reuben, on the other hand, says that when the audience is aware of what they're getting into, it makes for a great time. He says, "Since the audience is aware of the format of the show they always come with an open mind and most have the time of their lives." Spurthi GR, a city-based software professional who is a regular at such events, says, "Dark humour is a way of saying hello to oneself - to a side we didn't know dwells within us. Quite often, it tells us about the different shades of grey in human behaviour. Funnily enough, it may scare you. So, come at your own risk."
Men’s World magazine (May 2015 issue) featured him among the most prominent names in the Hindi-Hinglish Stand-up Comedy scene.
Not just that, the most incisive and probably the only documentary on Stand-up Comedy in India “I am offended” featured his opinions on comedy along with the most respected and prominent names from the Indian Stand-up Comedy scene, like Johnny Lever, Raju Srivastav, Vir Das, Varun Grover, Sanjay Rajoura, Papa CJ, AIB, and EIC, etc.
He is currently touring his 4th Stand-up special
1: The Banana Republic Show
2: The Sundeep Shawarma Show
3: What do you think you are doing ?
4: Sharma Ji Before & After
He started as a script writer for BBC World service trust. He also scripted, voiced and produced a funny series called “Chacha Batoley” for Red Fm Delhi which had the highest listenership across Delhi radio stations for about 3 years.