By George Vivian Paul
"Why don't you guys sit down?" is what I got after spending almost an hour explaining stand-up comedy to my relatives in Ernakulam! Kerala is yet to evolve into a robust scene for stand-up comedy, but it does have immense potential and a mature audience to appreciate a good work of art.
Stand-up comedy transcends languages and often mutates into a mixture of various languages particularly in India. All that matters at the end of the show is whether the comedian was able to make the audience laugh.
Malayalis are known for their sarcasm and wit. The rich cultural advantage of Chakyar koothu is also ours to exploit. It is awe-inspiring how such an ancient art form still finds an audience in the present times. Hence the stage is already set for a surge in stand-up comedy in God’s Own Country.
One of the many unique features about stand-up comedy as a profession is that one can never get fired from work. It is a one-man show where the quipster is the writer, director, producer as well as the editor of the whole act.
So the scope of artistic freedom available is limitless. The sole guide to the boundaries of a joke is the acknowledgement of the audience coupled with perfect timing.
The rules of the games are yet to be set. Simply put, it’s solely up to you to come up with your own set of rules…to each one, his/her own.
But certain things are part and parcel of the profession like the utter humiliation, heart-wrenching debacles and -worst of all- no monetary benefits, especially in the initial years of struggle.
All of which fades away into oblivion, when you are onstage and the joke that you worked so hard on, elicits that laughter and applause at just the right moment.
It is often the initial hesitation one has to overcome to go up onstage every time. Most people who suffer from stage fright do not actually realize that the audience is always rooting for you in the first place.
They always look forward to a good show. And all the comic has to do is deliver the jokes. When the punch-line breaks up the audience as never before, that’s when the comedian attains nirvana.
No matter how many times one performs onstage, it is never the same. Like an organic process, the content of the joke changes each time one takes the stage.
There is no right way to step into this profession, except for maybe opting for open mics, as they are referred to these days. These provide an aspiring stand-up comedian a kind of ‘workshop’ experience, thereby paving the way ahead.
Open mics are basically venues where anyone gets to go onstage and try out new jokes. Nowadays, there are quite a few events organized at various venues by the comedy clubs in Kochi that are specifically aimed at the witty lot who wish to opt for stand-up comedy as a profession..
So Kerala is essentially in that lucrative phase right now, wherein there is absolutely nothing to stop someone….or anyone for that matter from venturing into the stand-up scene.
We Malayalis do take our jobs seriously…after all, it’s no joking matter, when it comes to earning one’s bread and butter!