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

Guest Interviewer;

Khyati Sanger

[email protected]

On 19th October, DU Beat spoke to Nishant Suri, the winner of Comicstaan Season One about his journey in comedy. Here are excerpts from the interview.

Khyati: You have switched between lots of professions. What made you stick to comedy?

Suri: I switched from my corporate set-up because I realised it was not my thing and not something I can do for the rest of my life. The switch was pretty natural. People tell me, ”Oh, you are so brave.” But it wasn’t like that. I was really unhappy and decided that I can?t do this. So I started to figure out what talents I had. I used to capture photos at my family weddings and I liked it. There are so many emotions that I liked capturing. I realized I could earn money off of this.

I don’t remember what prompted me to go for comedy but I also went for an open mic. I prepared 10 minutes. It went well. I started doing other couple of open mics. I had no aspirations or dreams with it, I wanted to do it on the side. I quit my job, I moved back to Noida.

It took me 4-5 months to start earning off of photography. I wasn’t very serious about comedy at that time. Last year, I got tired of doing it. Standing for 12 hours, taking photos, then editing those 1800 photos. Most people didn’t appreciate it and bargained like I was selling vegetables.

Then, last September Comcistaan happened. I progressed into comedy.

I don’t know if I will definitely stick to comedy. Life is uncertain but I am pretty sure I would like to stick to comedy. Mann lo, wild thought, agar Bollywood aa gaya toh? (Just imagine, wild thought, if I get the opportunity to get into Bollywood?) I am very open to change. And I get bored, sort of quickly.

Khyati: When was the first time you got on stage?

Suri: April 2014.I went after office. I got a few members from my team to come along. I also got a few friends, which is obviously good because they are going to cheer you. Plus, I had a few decent jokes. Some of those jokes I even used in the auditions of Comicstaan.  So, it went pretty well. I didn’t know I had 5-6 minutes. I ended up doing ten.

I don’t really have a struggle story. In any art form the first year you won’t do well. There is always an initial struggle. That’s pretty much the struggle I had. I was financially well off because I was at home and I was earning off of photography. I have been lucky. Even my parents have been supportive.


Khyati: Who is your favorite comedian and why?

Suri: My favorite is Louis C. K. (It is) not a very politically correct answer but it can’t change just because he turned out to be a horrible person. What he does on stage, I really like it. A lot of people have this confusion about whether you can disassociate art from the artist. I don’t know, but for me, I can. I like his skill. I find him funny.

Khyati: What has been the biggest obstacle in your journey?

Suri: It is the fear of failure. Initially I give people what they wanted which makes you a little commercial. I am still like that in a way. There are comics who did what they wanted to do and struggled for the first few years but they are  really good. They have developed their own style. The fear of failure stops me from trying out new things. For instance, I haven’t tried my hand at story telling because of the fear of bombing on stage. You lose it when you perform more. I have still not lost it.

There is a tug of war between what I want to do and what the people want on stage sometimes.


Khyati: What are your plans for the future?

Suri: I never make long term plans for the future.  I am moving to Mumbai. I first believed in destiny. You can’t know what will happen to you. Last January I didn’t know Comictsaan would happen and change my life so much. I want to go there I want to make a good one hour special over the next 5-6 months. I want to become better.  As far as the Dua Suri show is concerned, we might stop that in a couple of months because we might like to do our solos, or we might make it into a novelty show. But it is still very uncertain.

If you could choose a winner in your place, who would it be?

Rahul Dua. He was good at different genres. Even in the finals it could have gone either way. It was my day so I ended up doing better. Rahul dua is my personal favourite. And even Prashasti is amazing. She is hilarious off stage as well, and will only get better.


Khyati: What do you dislike and like the most about Comcistaan?

Suri: They could have shown a bit of the back story. Not as dramatic as reality shows  but just to tell the people more about who we are. It helps build a stronger connection with the audience. I mean it was their first season, right? It was new for everyone in India.

What I like the most is that it has completely changed my life. I love that we were pushed to do different genres within a week. It gave us confidence in our ability. I wouldn’t have done that Ramesh set. It was done in 4-5 days.  Usually, I have low self-confidence. . But here I couldn’t embarrass myself and fail. It was a good motivator. They forced us to come out of our comfort zones.

Khyati: Are you open to doing college shows as well?

Suri: Yes, why not? They are always better than a corporate show. There are young people. You connect with them. And colleges pay decent money.


Khyati: Which of your sets in Comicstaan were the most popular, according to you? Is it your favourite? How did you come up with it?

Suri: The Ramesh one. It is my favourite and I am really proud of it. People still come up to me and ask me “Ramesh mil gaya kya?”

I had a different concept planned out about the stage being an Inbox and I being an email looking for my brother email named Ramesh. When I was planning this in my house at midnight, I shouted for Ramesh and I decided I wanted to do this through the entire set. I just wanted to be there looking for Ramesh. So I don’t give any backstory. The novelty was not enough and the audience needed more. There had to be more jokes and a backstory. So I added that. Then I added an ending. I loved when I asked someone from the audience member to look for Ramesh. He actually shouted his name and played along. I smiled. I was so happy!

Khyati: What do you have to say to the budding comedians?

Suri: Don’t be one! We don’t need more competition! We are very happy with the shows we are getting. We would not like to share them! But if you really want to, it is scary going on stage and there is no doubt about it. And it is going to be scary for the first hundred times. Then it becomes better. There is no harm in giving it a shot. Everything is scary initially. But if it is something you want to try, register for an open mic. Force yourself.

You will be terrible initially, unless you are exceptional. So, give yourself some time and do open mics, before deciding on whether you want to really continue with it or not. It is important to go on stage rather than sitting at home and writing jokes.


Image credits: IMDB

Interview taken by Khyati Sanger

[email protected]

Interview transcribed by:

Khyati Sanger