How comedian Anubhav Singh Bassi is spending the lockdown

For a stand-up comedian with almost two million followers on YouTube, Anubhav Singh Bassi’s account has just three videos (each of them with a minimum of 25 million views). But producing and packaging ‘content’ on his socials has never been his priority; his affair has always been with the stage.

How does that work in a new world where live performance, as we know it has paused? “I’ve done some videos on Instagram, monologues and such, mostly to retain visibility,” says Bassi with a certain nonchalance. His most recent project was a 10-minute monologue for Amazon Funnies about the time he was appointed his school’s head boy.

“I have been writing a lot, but until I perform it on stage, I will never know if it is funny or not. Stand-up up for anyone is 33% writing, 33% performance, and 33% personality,” he says.

How comedian Anubhav Singh Bassi is spending the lockdown

What has worked for Bassi especially, has been the delivery and personality. His content is almost always anecdotal, from the time he and his school friends planned on cheating on a test, which went awry, to the first time he got his chest hair waxed. More than the story, however, it is his personality of being ever so slightly surprised at the situation he is in that manages to tickle.

It is funny when a big hulking man, proud of his strength, feels his “soul escape through his nipples” the first time he gets waxed. It is funnier when the line is delivered in a Meerut dialect.

“Your on-stage aura plays a major part in whether your joke lands: the delivery, where you take pauses, where you act out, how involved you get your audience. Yeah, some jokes are flat — setup and punchline — but making them into a whole set needs a proper live show environment,” he explains.

In the absence of a live show environment, many of his contemporaries have taken to exploring other avenues of comedy. Kenny Sebastian has his podcast, Vir Das has his online shows, Sorabh Pant has both, and Tanmay Bhat his Vlogs. Instagram comedians such as Srishti Dixit and Kusha Kapila, are also having their moment in the sun.

“Of all the stand-up comedians we have, many of them are good actors, good writers. So people have tried to explore what else they can do, given their main source of revenue has shut down. That’s good, because if you don’t explore, you don’t grow,” he accepts. “But not everyone necessarily has that state of mind in lockdown to be creative,” he adds.

His own social media, apart from a few funny monologues, one-liners and old crowd work videos, has remained static. “In 95% of cases, if your video goes viral, your live show will sell out. So yes, putting out videos does matter. But every artiste has a certain capacity to do shows, and I felt that I was doing as much work as I could,” says Bassi. This was pre-pandemic. “Plus, we only put out videos when we have a tour to sell.” — he jokes, again with that nonchalance.

Instead, Bassi is introspecting, reading and writing a lot more than he did before. “I am obsessed with poetry and the works of Gulzar, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Faraz. I have been writing about six to seven short stories too. Let’s see where I can use them.” Up next? “Maybe a stand-up on turning 30,” he says — a ritual almost every comedian in this country has followed.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 10:39:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/anubhav-singh-bassi-delves-into-reading-poetry-in-lockdown/article32437285.ece

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