The nature of comedy is such that it takes so much skill, hard work, luck and persistence. That is why the community is cosy, say stand-up comedians Akshay and Abijit.
Akshay B.D. and Abijit Ganguly are familiar with each other; the two boys who are based in Delhi were in Bangalore for a stand up show at Huckleberry and as their conversation and comedy whipped back and forth, I sat in between making copious notes. Akshay is the youngling, a final year student at law school in Delhi. Ten months into comedy he likes to believe lawyers have a sense of humour, writes his own jokes and relies on hysterics.
Each comedian has their own individual style they tell me. “Akshay comes in like a guy on steroids and it is more like a rant that is also funny,” says Abijit and I look to Akshay giving him his cue. “Abijit’s style is interesting actually – it is conversational and very matter of fact-ly (for lack of a better word) funny.”
With two years of surviving comedy, Abijit says, “All comedians know each other. The nature of comedy is such that it takes so much skill, hard work, luck and persistence and that is why the community is cosy. If a comedian fails once he is most likely to never come back again.”
And Akshay tells me that it is not just the jokes that matter, “Everything outside of comedy makes a difference — the height of the room, if people are eating, the room is too big, the mike is too loud, so many variables.”
Who is a good audience? Akshay says, “Any audience that pays money to watch comedy is a good audience.” What is annoying about the audience? Abijit tackles this one, “That they think they are funny and can do it better than you. Or somebody knows your punch line and gives it away,” and the two look at each other and nod in agreement.
Soon after the Delhi rape when the country was volatile about rape and sexual violence, Akshay and Abijit say that they had to drop a couple of jokes. “Any taboo topic you need to make a point on, and have a joke around, fewer people can get it right and that is the challenge,” says Akshay. “Yes, Akshay has a very thoughtful and profound set on Biharis. Comedy is a huge tension reliever, and the riskier, the funnier; but not everybody can pull it off,” Abijit says.
They tell me that the most disappointing shows are when they have expectations of the audience; comedy is about connecting with the lowest common denominator and it is a high when they do… a thrill. “Before every show you think, I hope this is not going to be one of those nights,” says Akshay.