Comedian Sorabh Pant talks to Sangeeta Yadav about his experiment with the newsroom comedy genre, his comedy shows across India and an upcoming novel he is penning
Be it a punch on AAP Government and superstars, or funny one-liners on common man tackling parenting, marriage and exams issues, comedians spare no one from an honest yet funny introspection of life through gags.
Comedian Sorabh Pant (34) was in Delhi recently for an easy evening stand-up comedy show. “It was a night to remember with comedy lovers on a laughter riot. To make the audience unwind, I write gags on pretty much everything. There is no specific topic or genre that is my favourite. I keep it simple and relevant,” Pant says.
When we think of stand-up comedy, what strikes us is outrageous content. But Pant tries to keep a balance in whatever he jokes on.
“My content is never outrageous and I try to strike a balance in whatever I do. Even if I am talking about the Modi Government or JNU’s Kahaniya Kumar issue, I try to talk about both sides of the story. If people find me outrageous, you can’t accuse me of imbalance. Making people laugh through gags becomes slightly difficult and is more short lived than video pranks. In the process, you create a niche audience everywhere who come down to see your show,” Pant says.
His journey as stand-up comedy started in 2009 when he left his decade-long career as a scriptwriter for TV shows like the Great Indian Comedy Show, News On The Loose and Walking on Broken Das with Vir Das on CNBC TV18 and many others. His first attempt at live stand-up comedy Pant on Fire put the house on fire.
“I was writing for TV shows till I realised that I need to do things that my heart says. I belong to a time when you can’t mention a politician’s name on radio and TV shows and get away with it. That’s completely deranged. Most TV channels were shy of doing anything new and the few who experimented were instantly copied by other channels. There were also too much of Government interference. All this was stopping my growth and I decided to shift to stand-up comedy. Now, a lot has changed in Indian TV,” Pant tells you.
It was when he did the opening act for an American actor, singer and comedian Wayne Brady in 2011 that his passion got fueled. Brady complimented him by saying that he was the second brilliant Indian comedian he had seen after Russell Peters.
“Oddly enough, I didn’t realise that doing live stand-up could be an option to explore. It was not until I did my first two comedy shows by Black Dog Easy Evening that my confidence grew and I was inspired to take this up. There was nothing inventive happening then on TV, so I decided to give up and started writing jokes for live audiences. I write jokes for myself and would tell them exactly how it should be told,” Pant tells you.
Having done over 250 shows in 17 cities, Pant has also come up with a live comedy show on his toddler son titled My Baby Thinks I’m Funny and is a co-founder of YouTube channel East Indian Company (EIC) which has over over 4 lakh subscribers and features other comedians like Kunal Rao, Sapan Verma, Sahil Shah, Atul Khatri, Azeem Banatwalla and Angad Ranyal.
Being a comedian for over nine years now, Pant aspires to make it big in the news comedy genre and feels that it’s soon going to rule the roost. “The intention is to make it big in newsroom comedy which political/news based jokes. I have been doing this for EIC and that has gone viral. Also, we are planning to interview real heroes from various walks of life be it sports or society,” Pant says.
After the popularity of Roast in India, many comedians experimented with this genre but now a lot of them are taking comedy as serious business and doing it in a responsible way. “I was never a fan of Roast. I was a part of two roasts in the past and I didn’t enjoy it at all. Being a comedian for over nine years, I have started doing things that are more impactful. Though I am a little stupid and silly in a live show, I want to start doing stuff which is impactful in general,” Pant aspires.
Of popular comedians Krushna Abhishek and Kapil Sharma, he says: “Frankly speaking, there is no connect between what we do and what they do. And I am not aiming to be there in any stage of my life. They have a completely different genre and a platform to present their gags. They are doing well in their life and have worked quite hard to do what they are doing. I’m not one of those comedians who would say disparaging things about the Hindi comedian. I feel Kapil Sharma is funny but he needs to put more thought into what he does and how to reinvent. Comedy Nights Bachao should now get to the next level,” Pant feels.
Although, live stand-up is gaining momentum, Pant feels it still has a long way to go. “It’s rare that you get an opportunity to pursue what you want to do in life. I tell everyone that as a comedian, you never know your expiry date because you have probably a decade to do comedy and after that sort of retire and relax the rest of your life. Or the boredom seeps in and people tend to get detached which reflects on their performance. You need to reinvent yourself and explore new platforms and ways of doing comedy. Every Youtuber is watched by half a million people on an average. If you compare it with TV ratings, it’s really high above English entertainment channel, music channels etc. People are trying to cash in on this,” Pant says.
A busy man, shuttling between cities for his live shows, his upcoming book, shooting comedy videos for EIC and playing with his son, Pant tells you that he likes his plate full. “An average day spent is about doing six things. Yesterday, I did a show in one city and then flew back to Mumbai. I played with my son for two hours and went on news hour and did another show, came back and wrote a column, shot a video in my house and had a meeting. All this in one day. I am now planning to release my next novel which is a play with a combination of history and mythology,” Pant says.
(The article got published in Pioneer Newspaper – http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/comedy-is-news-to-him.html)