It"s rude to record a live act: Rahul Subramanian
Standup comedian Rahul Subramanian, who was in the city for a performance, discusses comedy, his contemporaries and more in an interview with Bangalore Times. Excerpts:
What is the journey of a joke like? How do you put your content together?
There are all types of jokes. Some jokes take two days. Some jokes I have been doing for three-and-a-half years, and I have still not found the best way to do it. It depends. If something funny comes to my head, I keep thinking of more funny (things) around it. When it stops being funny, I stop thinking. I go and try it on stage. Somethings get removed from it, somethings get added. I don’t write, I don’t like writing. I might write pointers, because when I write something, it is a memory point. There might be slight changes in terms of how (I) present it, I do riff a lot, about 10%. Standup comedy is a scripted show, so 10% is a huge percentage.
When did you decide that you wanted to become a standup comedian?
It started off as a hobby. I was looking for some hobby to keep me sane from the corporate job. Then, it became more than a hobby. After a point of time, it reached a stage where I had to take a call between the two.
How has your content evolved from the day you started writing standup, to today?
My content is becoming funnier in my head. Have you ever read your old diary? Or even your old Facebook post? You just want to put a knife through your eye. So, it’s like that you keep getting better. The audience can judge us.
Who are the artistes you look up to?
Comedians, hardly anyone. Brian Regan is someone I like a lot. But I am not a fan-fan of comedy. I am more a sci-fi fan and a sports fan. If you want to see me as a fanatic, it will be majorly in sports.
Which of your contemporaries’ content do you like?
The more you watch someone, the more you find that they keep changing content. For sometime, it was Biswa (Kalyan Rath), after that, it was Abhishek Upmanyu. Right now I like Kanan Gill’s comedy a lot as well as Kunal Kamra and Urooj Ashfaq — she is the freshest of all, in terms of the type of comedy. We always see Indian stand up comedians sharing great camaraderie. It is almost as if a group of friends decided to take the stand up comedy world together. We hate each other. If I meet Kanan somewhere I’ll kill him (laughs). On a serious note, it is like any work. If I work with someone I like or admire, then it’s fun. It is just like any other industry. Like Kanan, Sumukhi, they have worked together, and they are friends otherwise, that’s why it looks great when they are performing together.
What are you most nervous about when performing? Do you have a pre-show ritual?
Not really. I used to drink coffee. But now, I try to not think of comedy. If my mind is blank before a show, it is a great start. During the performance, if I find babies or kids in the audience, it freaks me out, because my content is not something kids should listen to. I don’t want to scar them. When a kid is crying, the parent will take the kid out. But if the kid is not crying, that means the kid is listening. Which is a greater problem.
And people recording. I find it rude. It is almost infringement. And also slightly disrespectful to the art. I understand that you like the artist, but watch that person live, and not through your screens. I don’t think people do it intentionally. I find myself taking videos when I go for a football match. So, I make a conscious effort to not take my phone out.
How does it feel to perform in Bengaluru?
For me, Bengaluru is the best place to perform in India. Because, honestly the crowd is by far the best crowd for me. My tickets always get sold out here faster than Mumbai. I just think that there is a fan base that I have here and they like the type of humour that I do. I like the city. It is my second favourite city after Mumbai.