Stand up comedy has become tremendously popular especially because we now have access to internet on almost every mobile, desktop and smart TV, comedy has become a prominent industry very quickly. And add the ubiquity of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime in India. Comedians such as Kanan Gill, Kenny Sebastian and Abish Mathew who were present when the scene was small have shot to prominence and have made it big, with special half-hour shows on these platforms. But how does one get from cracking jokes in your friend group to cracking jokes on a big stage? If you were ask people to list down your top 10 dream jobs you would not find many people mention that they would want to pursue a career in comedy.

To help answer this question, the topic of this week’s Plunnge webinar was “Can Stand Up comedy be an actual career?”, with host Dr. Rakesh Godhwani, and guest speakers Shridhar V, Arpit Sedani and Angad Ranyal. Shridhar is known on Twitter as @iimcomic, and is the creator of the YT series “Prime Time Jokes”. Arpit is one of the youngest stand-up comedians in Mumbai and has done multiple shows across the city. Angad Ranyal is one of India’s top 20 comedians and has won multiple awards for his writing.

Are you born funny?

One of the first questions that were asked by the audience was: do you have to be born funny, or is something you can get better at with time? Simple answer: It’s just like any other art form – practice makes perfect. Arpit speaks about how he got started in comedy as a college student and the comedy courses that he had taken to improve his skills. He believes that though this is not necessary, there are structured ways that one can go about learning comedy just like any other skill. It seems every person has a knack for it, so with time and practice, you can get better at delivering those one line sucker punches to ensure a chuckle.


Where is the money?

As always choosing a career which satisfies you is one thing, but a career that satisfies and makes you a lot of money is definitely much more desirable. From a financial standpoint, comedy can be very rewarding, but it takes time, effort, and commitment. Sridhar talks about how when he started off, he would go do a set at open mics for virtually no money. These are venues at bars or restaurants with no specifies audience where you can register and try your hand out at comedy without the pressure. This is the ideal way to practice your set, and improve over time, he adds. Experience on stage helps a lot towards improving and understanding your style of comedy and with consistency and the right network you can land bigger shows based on your credibility and content. As Shridhar points out, the growth of a comic is exponential and that if you are good, you tend to do exceptionally well and the more popular you get, the bigger your earnings are. 

Can you call comedy a career path ?

Careers in comedy go beyond just the showmanship and the act on stage. Angad who is a full time comic, talks about how a lot of effort and time goes into writing and perfecting the unique style that makes people laugh. If you understand your audiences but do not enjoy performing on stage, you can choose to work as a writer, where there are a lot of opportunities. Even television sitcom have a bouquet of writers working on one comic piece. Who knew making people laugh was a million dollar industry? He believes that it is important to capitalize on every opportunity, and not consider anything beneath your level, especially in stand up. A giant ego just comes in the way of being funny and that one does not get into comedy for the money but for the sheer joy of making people laugh.

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