I’ve always been hyperactive; even as a child, I’d never sit in one place. My father started that phrase, “Shunky, you can’t sit in one place.” (It’s true though.) I vividly remember thinking this when I met Sanjay Manaktala for the first time. . He was performing at Jagriti Theatre. I used to spend my weekends volunteering there. (Today I work there). Over the past 3 years, I had been consuming stand-up comedy online. From one hour specials, to ‘short comedy video’ marathons, I’d watch anything that came through my modem. (Just before watching porn).
I told Sanjay that I would want to try doing Stand-up. He spoke to me about being regular at the open mics in the city and to start off right away, even if it is with 2 minutes of material. He said, just be yourself and you’ll be fine. Open mics are these Stand-up events in pubs and bars that give comedians a stage to practise their set and perfect it. (Or sometimes, start it)
For the 5th time in a row I was puking. I wasn’t unwell. It was the anxiety. To worsen my situation, I tried to tell me jokes to my office friends and apparently, at an advertising agency, you can have pin drop silence. I was petrified when I set foot on Monday August 19th to do my first set on an open mic forum. I remember sweating like I was at the beach. Marina beach! I finished my set of about 4 minutes, and I got off stage with this feeling that I’ve just landed after a flight.
The Bangalore comedians were nothing but supportive and that’s what got me going for the second time. I’ve learnt something over the little time that I’ve spent with the comedians and that is, if you’re new to the craft the comedians support you to try and ease off the tension, but once you’re improving and better at the craft, they stop acknowledging the fact that you’re funny. So when you hear “Very funny”, from another comedian and not “Hey! Good set”, remind yourself that you have a long way to go.
Bangalore has a variety of stand up comics. Professional comedians who’ve been through the highs and lows of the initial phase, new comics who’re learning to find their voice and a few guys who come in once to see what it’s like to go up on stage. The crowd here isn’t throwing the responsibility on the one on stage to make them laugh. Bangalore crowd is welcoming and open to laughing. So each week I try to get a “Good Set” or at least “Very Funny”.