Entertainment

Atul Khatri’s mixed bag of jokes

Atul Khatri

Atul Khatri  

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Fresh from touring Australia, the stand-up comic will be in Chennai on November 16

Atul Khatri was 43 when he decided to quit his job as CEO at a family-run IT company and take up comedy (initially, just to tick it off his bucket list). Seven years on, he has toured the world with his jokes in tow, and also been featured on Netflix’s Comedians of the World. On November 16, Khatri, 51, will be at Chennai’s Sir Mutha Concert Hall with his yet-to-be-titled set.

A throwback to his journey so far, he says the set will feature anecdotes on his transition from CEO to stand-up, his early gigs, and the latest addition to the Khatri clan, his dog Butter Khatri (a celebrity in his own right, with 2.9k followers on Instagram). “The Chennai audience is a very intelligent one, which understands and appreciates good humour”, and so he will also be adding a few funny instances that happened since his last outing in the city in January this year.

An idea, sirji?

His Australia tour just behind him, Khatri says that his material does not undergo much tweaking for an international audience, primarily because he thinks, writes and performs in English. “Of course, I have to drop all the Hindi words, and speak slower because of the accent. Otherwise, by the time they begin to understand the first joke, I’ve already moved on to my third.”

For him, inspiration comes from everywhere. “You open the newspaper and you have material worth three to four hours staring at you. There is Bollywood, cricket, politics — which throws up at least two hours of material every day,” he says. He, however, enjoys jokes that draw from his personal experiences and observations. Take, for instance, his sets on getting old, Sindhi-Punjabi marriages, or even his recent review video where he speaks about the new (and otherwise dry) Motor Vehicle Act.

For mental health

It is his ability to talk about serious issues with a comic undertone which comes at play in another project (which has nothing to do with stand-up), ‘The Shrink and the Nut’. Teaming up with his sister, and psychiatrist, Dr Anjali Chabbria — “she is the shrink, I am the nut” — the duo conducts free sessions for school and college students, on tackling depression and suicidal tendencies. Over the past year, they have addressed nearly 25,000 students. “The idea is to create mental health warriors who can support a friend in need and take them to the closest mental health professional,” he explains.

As for his personal support system, Khatri falls back on his family, especially his wife. “In the initial days, she took on the role of helming the ship while I was gigging,” he says. His daughters, with whom he shares a very engaging social media rapport, double up as his testing audience. “I almost always run my jokes past them,” he says, adding that today’s set has material on them as well. “They think what I do is very cool,” he concludes.

Atul Khatri Live | A Fundraiser Show is on Novmber 16 at Sir Mutha Concert Hall, from 7 pm onwards. Tickets at ₹499 onwards on in.bookmyshow.com

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 4:59:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/atul-khatris-mixed-bag-of-jokes/article29983004.ece

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