Alexander Babu: ‘Through every show, I want to spread kindness’

Alexander Babu climbs the staircase of his spanking new villa at Chennai’s Navalur singing Ilaiyaraaja’s ‘Pon Vaanam Paneer Thoovuthu’ ( Indru Nee Nalai Naan). As he climbs down, after fetching an extension box to plug his keyboard, he playfully tries out the high notes in AR Rahman’s ‘Vennilavae’ ( Minsara Kanavu).

With the popular stand-up comedian, there is always music in the air. And jokes to go with it.

After the hit musical comedy show  Alex in Wonderland, the comedian is back with yet another live musical special premiering this weekend in the city.  Alexperience has already created a buzz among stand-up fans, with packed multiple tester shows over the last few weekends. “Due to the lockdown, we suddenly had so much written material, but were unsure of what would work with an audience,” he says.

He describes  Alexperience more experimental than  Alex in Wonderland, so the ability to have tester shows — where he got to present his material in front of a live audience and tailor it accordingly — was a boon. “It was a relief to see the response you envisioned during the writing stage itself,” he says.

So, how different will  Alexperience be from his last show? “I decided to let go of my previous material, and let my art guide me. When you do that, you will be open to newer possibilities,” is all he is willing to state.

Alexander Babu

Alexander Babu | Photo Credit: Johan Sathyadas

Alex interacts with audiences, but his core strength is presenting comical material that he has polished over and over again, so much that the joke and storytelling becomes second nature. “I feel that’s important. During my first tester, it was evident that I was thinking of the next lines when I was speaking. The more you rehearse, especially in front of an audience, the more coherent is gets.”

He looks back at the resounding success of  Alex in Wonderland, which he performed across cities and countries more than hundred times, as a ‘blessing’. Especially since it came in the third year of him quitting his regular IT job to take up stand-up as a full-time pursuit. “My wife and I saved money from our office jobs and thought I’d plunge full-time into stand-up for two years and see. We extended it to three years subsequently. So, I had to make it big that year, else I would have had to go back to a regular office job,” he says.

Alexander Babu

Alexander Babu | Photo Credit: Johan Sathyadas

Big he did, for  Alex in Wonderland, a show that featured him talking about the legends of the Tamil film fraternity, not just made him popular with live audiences, but also reached fans with its subsequent release on Amazon Prime.

Though he has comical content for the next couple of years, Alex is determined to focus on one thing for the future: giving the right experiences for audiences. The motto of Anba Arts, his production company, is ‘work hard, be kind, spread joy’, inspired by his former employer Amazon’s motto, ‘work hard, have fun, make history’. “Through every show we do, through every five minutes of comedy, all we want to tell audiences is: be kind. That’s what I’d like to pass on,” says Alex, who, besides being a certified yoga instructor, trains in classical music under Monali Sanyal Balasubramaniam.

Up next, Alex has a few things up his sleeve, including mixing aspects of science, literature and history with music, and presenting it on stage. “The history of the Tamil language or Chola dynasty, for instance, is so fascinating to read. I’m trying to shape up material where I can narrate stories from these subjects, packed with some funny lines and connect it with music.”

Graphic: Albert Francis

Graphic: Albert Francis

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2022 8:43:59 am | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/alexander-babu-through-every-show-i-want-to-spread-kindness/article65749732.ece