With the second season of Comicstaan being won by a University of Delhi (DU) alumnus, the game of comedy has changed forever for aspirants. Here is a candid conversation with the winner of Comicstaan Season Two, Mr. Aakash Gupta.
- Khyati: How did you begin with standup comedy?
Aakash: I used to do theatre before comedy. I did theatre in my college, Shaheed Bhagat Singh. Then I moved into professional theatre after college. Besides that, I started learning improv (improvisational) comedy. I was still not aware of stand-up until then. After a year and a half, I got to know about open mics in Delhi. Soon enough, I registered myself for a couple of open mics. So I have to write my own material for those, which I was not used to, because improv is more of a team thing. There is no writing in it. So it was a new thing for me. I tried it, I liked it, and started doing it.
- Khyati: What was your parents’ reaction when you told them this is what you want to do?
Aakash: I never really told them about it as such. I was doing open mics while also doing multiple other things. I was interning at a radio station, doing plays, shooting documentaries. They just knew I was doing something. I took a lot of time before professionally getting into comedy. I graduated in 2013 and I even worked for a year after college. It was only after two to three years that I started professional comedy. Otherwise it was a part-time thing for me.
- Khyati: When did you really gain the confidence to become a professional stand-up comedian?
Aakash: There was no one moment as such. Things flowed smoothly for me. After open mics, I started getting spots. I also met other comics and hosted their shows. Then eventually, I did my own shows with a bunch of comics. So, it was just one step at a time.
- Khyati: What would you call your career highlight?
Aakash: When I first uploaded my video on YouTube about one and a half years back, that was the first time when I felt like “I’ll be fine, I can do this.” After that, I started getting shows. People started buying my tickets. That was the time I had to leave everything else, which I regret. I miss doing theatre. Acting has been my first love, and the second is stand-up.
- Khyati: Was there a moment when you felt like giving up?
Aakash: That happens with us comics, everyday. The fear that we have is of not doing good or bombing. You see, standup is a brutal art form. We are judged right on the spot. It is not a movie, which people watch for an hour before giving their verdict. Here, you tell a joke. Either it lands, or it bombs. You can see the faces of the people in front of you and know how you did. If you post a video on YouTube, you can disable the comments or not read them. It’s your choice. But yahan pe apke saamne log baithe hain. Agar woh nahi has rahe, wahi apka result hai! (But the people are sitting right in front of you here. If they are not laughing, that’s your result right there!) In terms of money, I always found some way to earn enough to sustain. I haven’t faced that much of a problem. There was a point when I didn’t have so much but it was fine.
- Khyati: What has been your worst bombing experience?
Aakash: There has been a lot but the worst one was at Striker Pub at DLF Promenade. I was hosting a show for a big comic. It was house-full and I was just one year into comedy – very new. Us se pehle mere saath aisa kuch hua nahi tha. Mai gaya stage pe aur mai mast perform kar raha hun and nobody is listening! (Nothing like this had happened before to me. I go up on the stage and I am just actively performing and nobody is listening!) People are cheering with their beer glasses among themselves. So I addressed them ki inki apni comedy chal rahi hai and wahan se jawab aaya ki haan tujhse achhi chal rahi hai! (So I addressed them saying, “Look, how they are enjoying their own comedy show,” and they responded by saying, “Yes, and it’s better than yours!”) And I didn’t know how to save myself at that time. This happens with us every day. Abhi bhi hota hai. Abhi bhi log ulta bolte hain. (This still happens with us. People still heckle us.) But now we know the way to deal with that. At that time, I just blanked out on stage. Mujhe samajh nahi aaya ki mai kya bolun! (I didn’t know what to say!)
- Khyati: What is the plan for all the prize money?
Aakash: It is invested. Very smartly!
- Khyati: Who is your favourite contestant and judge from Comicstaan?
Aakash: I like everyone for something they have that others don’t.
- Khyati: Oh, come on!
Aakash: It is a very honest answer! But, I was always fond of watching what Sumit Sourav would do. I have known him for two years before Comicstaan. So I know ki woh paagal insaan hai. Ki woh kharab kar sakta hai ya woh bilkul hi amazing kar sakta hai. (He is crazy. Either, he can do very badly, or he can give an amazing performance.) There’s always this knack about what he’ll really do up on the stage!
- Khyati: What are your future plans?
Aakash: I am touring with my show called Excuse Me Brother. I will complete the first round of (the) tour in September. And then, I am planning to release a video on YouTube.
- Khyati: What would be your advice to the budding comics?
Aakash: If you want to do comedy, just start doing comedy! Don’t wait for it! Go on the stage as much as possible. You can’t become a comic in your room. You have to go out. You have to bomb. If you don’t bomb, you won’t learn.
Feature Image Credits: Aakash Gupta (@theskygupta ) via Instagram