Tenets of a standup comedian

Aravind SA, whose second standup special, I Was Not Ready Da, premiered on Amazon Prime Video last week, drops insights about his profession and what it takes to be a standup comic

Aravind SA, the subject of national news channel debates and the comic behind many a viral video, is among the earliest names to emerge from the South standup comedy scene. Today, the scene is ripe with talent, and the “ecosystem has grown”, but there is still considerable mystery surrounding artistes in this space and in many ways, the occupation itself. Is it a reliable profession? Can you tell any joke you conjure up? What does it take to make money by telling jokes? Here’s SA himself, in a freeflowing conversation, telling you everything you need to know about this job, while also touching upon his latest standup and future plans…

‘Making a standup special is comparable to making a feature film’

“The crew involved is quite sizeable in making a Prime show like I Was Not Ready Da and there’s much people management required here too. It’s also essential that they all buy into a common vision. I work predominantly with friends, people who can tolerate that I’m an aspiring perfectionist. I began with dreams of being a filmmaker; standup comedy was an accident. So, to be able to make a special for Prime feels like I have, in a sense, channelled the filmmaker in me. Editing, colour correction, sound designing, sound mixing… it’s all the same in making a special like this.”

‘Financial independence is not a requisite to be a standup comedian anymore’

“Back when I burst onto the scene, only the privileged and those who had the luxury of familial support, could give a shot at being a standup comic, but that’s not the case anymore. There are so many revenue-making opportunities today—so many platforms, YouTube channels… A few years ago, we struggled to gather even ten people to listen to our jokes, but today, even a new comic can get a good audience at open mics. Of course, nobody should expect to make money right off the bat doing this job, but it can turn out to be a stable profession. With people having embraced the idea of paying for a live standup show, I can tell you that standup shows are here to stay. In fact, right now, I would say that the supply of comics is not meeting the demand.”

For the remainder of this interview (and there’s a lot more left, I assure you), visit Tenets of a standup comic- Cinema express.

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