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LIVE THE JOKE
Stand-up comedian AMIT TANDON, all set to launch his new show Tandon Talkies, gets candid with CHAHAK MITTAL about how he finds inspiration in the struggles of everyday life
Delhi-based comedian Amit Tandon, commonly called “The Married Guy” of the Indian stand-up comedy scene, is laughing all the way to the bank — for a reason. He recently touched a milestone when he completed 100 shows in the last one year.
Tandon opens up about how he ended up doing 45-50 shows in 32 cities across the US last year. “I have been to 15 countries last year but in terms of experience it has been both very surprising and pleasant because I never knew the kind of reach that social media could give me. In the UK, we had planned four shows but we ended up doing nine.” Across the Atlantic, things became even bigger. “Something similar happened in the US as well, where initially the size of the venue that we were booking was only 300-350 seater but we sold out two months in advance. So, we shifted to 1,000-seater theatres and completed around 45-50 shows across 32 cities in the US.”
He adds, “It was a great learning experience though it was back-breaking in terms of the schedules because the flights for the US are pretty long. There is no time for the body clock to adjust. But at the same time, I felt that the more people you meet, the more material you collect in terms of comedy and the more you get to observe.”
Amit believes that social media has been instrumental in allowing him to reach out to the masses. He says, “Earlier you had to be either on television or in movies to do that, since those were the only media through which you got recognition. But now WhatsApp groups, Youtube and Facebook have provided a platform to showcase your skill set on your own and find your market, which is exactly what happened with me.”
Ever wondered how do these comedians find inspiration or ideas for their stomach and jaw-aching jokes? As far as Amit is concerned, he has a very realistic and observational approach. He says, “In terms of inspiration, comedy is tragedy plus timing. Whatever bothers me, I use it for comedy. A lot of it is observational comedy. For example, the struggles of a middle class person, mobile phones, traffic are things that everyone sees and I use them in my gags.” He illustrates with an example from daily life. “It could also be the things that irritate me. Today, when I was at the airport, waiting in the queue, there was a person who tried to break the queue. Then I realised, this is a habitual offence at airports everywhere.”
Being a comedian isn’t an easy job, neither a fixed one, so how does he manage to keep his jokes evergreen? Amit says, “This is a constant worry that plagues a comedian that maybe you have written your best set already so what will you write next. And is there an exhaustion of jokes? You just need to get out of your comfort zone every now and then to get new things and find inspiration.”
There is, of course, a dark side to being funny man. The pressure of performance is such that comedians hardly get to look at real issues in their lives. Here is what Amit has to say about it, “Well! Mujhe toh depression nahi hua hai abhi tak (laughs).” He adds, “Depression is becoming very common among artists, no matter in whichever industry. In a time of social media, there is a constant struggle among celebrities, like even Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, to update their social media profiles to connect with the people and project the sunny side of their lives, even when they are not feeling so.” He says, “Comedians are as serious as anybody. So it is not just confined to comedy industry only.”
Amit believes in jokes that stay within the people’s conscience. “Today you read a hundred jokes on whatsapp but forget them by the evening. I believe in taking a joke back home. There is a saying that you should be able to live your joke, which means that people should be able to relate it to themselves.”
He shares one of his most memorable experiences about how he had to jump on the improvisational theatre pattern. Says he, “When we were booked for a show in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the show was advertised in English but it was a comedy club, so we ended up with a 100 White people and two Indians. They just wanted to see Indian comedy. But the show was in Hindi and English, a mix of both. At the last minute, there were two of us, me and Deveshu, and we had to completely re-do our show in English. First, Deveshu turned to the stage and did a half-an-hour interaction in English, which went pretty well. While he was on the stage, I sat down to translate all my sets into English — which was a three-and-a-half hour script of jokes that I had written so far. Thankfully, it went pretty well. In fact, so well that I have been booked for a one-hour show by the same Crackhouse Comedy Club in KL next year. That is one show that I will always remember. It was a great sense of achievement for both of us, because we regularly do Hindi-English mix comics, and we ended up doing a one hour 15 minute show, which was completely in English, for a White audience. We got a standing ovation at the end of the show.” Clearly, he is, as the parlance goes, “killing it,” one show at a time.
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