For the Love of Standup

From Vir Das to the latest sensation Anubhav Bassi the Indian Standup Comedy has come a long way in past 10 years. Standup Comedy is no more an unfamiliar profession, comedians are recognized and respected for who they are and the body of work that they have created. The rise of regional standup comedy is one of the most incredible things to happen to the Indian comedy scene in recent years, Tamil and Marathi Standup are already making waves in their respective states and are setting trends for other regional comedy scenes like Kannada, Telugu and Bengali standup to follow in their footsteps and flourish. These days there are about 10-15 standup comedy videos coming out every month, with comics hoping to make a mark in the hearts of comedy lovers and dreaming that the video will propel their career to instant stardom.

The industry is growing everyday and the ultimate reward of fame and success is looking bigger and better to every aspiring open micer and therein lays the problem, this is a very big difference between standup comics who started 10 years back and comics who are starting out now. Back then comics didn’t have any specific goal; they did what they did for the love of doing standup without caring whether they’ll end up being big stars but now the end looks so sweet and attractive that the present journey of a comic goes out of window. This gradual shift in attitude has become a big reason for unhappy comedians who are not able to embrace failures gracefully which is a big part of becoming a successful comic.

Every heckle, every meltdown and every set that bombed teaches you how to be a better and more responsible comic. Comedy is an art form but no one treats it that way because the comics don’t treat it that way, comedians are trying to create content that people might like and it keeps them far from developing a perception and pouring out the funny in their own imperfect but unique way. A painter never paints a picture thinking about what people coming at his art exhibition would like to see, he paints what he wants and people come to see whatever the painter has created from his exclusive perspective. Every artist needs to embrace his life, his pain, his love and his sorrow for creating their art and no one has to do it more than a standup comedian, standup comics even have to practice and hone their skill in front of people unlike any other art form.

Unlike Bollywood, which has been riddled with below average content for ages standup comedians have a chance to create a new industry free from clutter and subpar material but still comics are taking the same old route of pushing mediocre content considering that the masses might like it. On the other hand audiences who have tasted the magic potion of comedy are hungry for new content, and consume anything that they come across as there are very few other options. This tends to give artists the illusion that their work is truly extraordinary and the bubble bursts when the views do not convert into ticket sales, a viral video is not proportional to growth, and getting a million views in a Smartphone user population of over 500 million is not an impossible task these days.

It’s time that standup comics understood that the industry is still in its infancy and the kind of work that comics do right now will be their legacy and will lay the foundation for generations to come. Standup comedy is a long and an arduous journey with a lot of hurdles and heartbreaks but the secret of becoming the best standup comedian is very simple, just keep doing it. It does not matter how many people are listening or if the mic is not working properly, embrace the situation and make the best out of it and again, just keep doing it. Artists whom all the aspiring comics appreciate were all once in the same situation and they are what they are today due to all those hurdles. They reached at the top not instead of those problems but because of those problems. Michelangelo the most famous sculptor once said that “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”

A final thought for the aspiring comedians is that anything worth keeping forever takes time and standup is no different than any other art form when it comes to acquiring and honing your skills. So have patience, love comedy with all your heart and just Eat, Sleep, Bomb repeat.

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