American stand-up comedian Scott Capurro says unlike most comics who don’t want to lose their audience by being edgy, he likes being confrontational

“Anyone can be a comic,” says stand-up comedian Scott Capurro. “The idea is to be accessible to the audience and not control the show,” he says. The American artiste, presently based in the UK, performed as part of the Comedy Store at B Flat and The Hyatt in the city this weekend.

The gay comic, who loves shocking people with provocative references to gay life and culture, was on a first-time tour of Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi.

“Bangalore is a fun place to be. I spotted cows on the streets and everyone going around them like they were used to it. For me, that makes Bangalore a very safe place to be,” Scott says.

On the shows he had here in the city, Scott says he was very gentle with the crowd. “People approach comedy here in a different way and make fun of other things. I make fun of religion and sex a lot and am very graphic about it. But for most of the audience, who were quite young, this was their first comedy show so I had to hold back a bit.”

For a comic who makes a living making people’s lives hell, Scott says this is the second time in the country that someone has told him that his style of comedy has no history here. “Most women, and almost all the single men here, have told me that marriage is not a subject for comedy. Mothers, especially, take marriage very seriously in India,” says the comic.

He believes most comics fear threading on topics like this because they want to be on TV and want to be liked. “Their humour is their shield and makes them popular. They don’t want to lose their audience by being edgy. Comics tone down because they want to be invited back and not push business away. But, I stopped worrying about that a long time ago. I don’t care what people feel,” says a determined Scott.

He goes on to explain that when comics are less confrontational, they are trying to control the show and its direction. “I find that completely uninteresting. In fact, that is quite offensive. What offends me the most are comics who do a show like a seminar or a monologue. For me that is extremely boring,” says Scott.

So why does this kind of comedy appeal to him? Scott says because that is his job. “Comics are the only people who can talk about AIDS, abortion, rape, religion and politics without any fear. We’re expected to make a joke out of it. I love taking uncomfortable things and making them palatable. I don’t care if the audience is comfortable or not. I’m not there to calm them down. If they want to be comfortable, they should probably hire a clown,” says Scott.

“I just want to change their mind about the way they feel about gay men. A lot of people expect gay people to be in a certain way. I just want them to know that we have our own thoughts and feelings and we can be as confrontational as anyone else,” he adds.

Scott further says, “People ask me why am I racist. I’m not! I am an old hippy from San Francisco. I am so left wing that I walk in circles. What people’s problem is that they are not used to gay men being confrontational. And if I say something that’s shocking or revealing, all they can think of that am racist.” Scott featured in the 1993 film Mrs. Doubtfire where he played the role of ‘Aunt’ Jack Hillard and a series of shows.

He was also awarded the Perrier Award at the Edinburg Festival in 1994 which was what shot him to fame in the comic scene. The flamboyant personality also appears in various shows when he is not touring doing what he loves doing most – telling jokes.

To how he discovered his funny bone, Scott says his family are Italian and Irish and generally tend to be very loud and funny. “My comedy became my self-defence because I couldn’t hit people. I was just funny at a young age. Then I took up acting and finally ended up a fulltime comic,” he says.

The 51-year-old says most Indian comics have material that would translate very well in the US or UK. “Some of the comics I met here are great. It’s not about the references because that can be changed. It is about the style, the pattern and the rhythm and I think Indian comics are remarkably good at that. There is a thriving comedy scene in India,” he says.