What a tamasha

COIMBATORE, TAMIL NADU, 14/06/2015: Stand-up comedians Karthik Kumar, S Aravind and Aswin Rao, during an interview with 'The Hindu MetroPlus', in Coimbatore on June 14, 2015. Photo: M. Periasamy   | Photo Credit: M_PERIASAMY

They have ruffled feathers; had people walking out of their show, been told they are not funny at all, have been ordered off the stage and been given moral gyan. Life as a stand up comedian has been quite eventful for Karthik Kumar, Aswin Rao and S. Aravind. Still, they love it. “It allows me to tell things which otherwise I would not have ever said,” says Aravind. Karthik Kumar calls it “a cathartic experience”. And software engineer-turned -theatre artist Aswin Rao feels making fun of the world is the biggest defence mechanism.

The Evam Standup Tamasha Team was in the city to perform for Laugh-O- Mania, organised by Coimbatore North Round Table No 20. “We will offend all of you,” Karthik promised the audience, as he adjusted the mike and waved at them. And true to his word, no one was spared. Aswin said how as a boy born in middle-class Brahmin household, he was pressurized to become a software engineer. Aravind, an arts student and now a filmmaker, complained how he was constantly overshadowed in his family by his “engineer” brother. Karthik joked about how he was one of those “almost famous celebrities” who people mistakenly think is a film star and ignore when they find out he is a theatre person.

The young crowd loved the desi flavor of the show, peppered with “macha,” “kolaveri”, and “thayir sadam” jokes. The artists taunted women who used ghee in their cooking, urban middle class’s marathon fad and South Indian middle class families’ obsession with living abroad. “We do not make bones about of where we come from. It is your own experience that counts in stand up comedy. It’s all about finding your own voice. ” says Aswin.

Stand- up comedy allows them to talk about controversial topics , says Karthik. “As long as we are cracking jokes, no one is going to ban us. And I think humour is a strong weapon to address social issues.” Karthik, who has made a few appearances in movies, feels he belongs to the stage. He also feels the current crop of youngsters is taking a proactive interest in theatre. “We are no longer talking about the viability of theatre. We have proved it is not impossible to make a living out of it. Evam now has offices in Chennai, Bangalore and Singapore. We also network closely with theatre professionals in Mumbai. Now, we are a full fledged theatre company that holds theatre sessions for corporates and children.” Evam Standup Tamasha was launched a few years ago. The initial years were tough. Stand-up comedy was still catching up. Aswin remembers how his jokes did not go too well with the Chennai elite. Karthik recalls how a middle-aged lady ambushed him after the show and demanded to know, “What happened to you? Why are you doing stand-up comedy?”

But, tastes have changed. With the emergence of so many youngsters choosing it as a career, there is a boom in the stand-up comedy market. Open mic nights are a rage. It is the best time for stand up comedy in the country, says Karthik. “Stand up comedy is like what Rock n Roll was in its time. It was a break from tradition and all societal norms. The elders hated it, which made it even more appealing to the youth. Our audience is the youngsters who will watch our shows on their laptops in their college hostels in a gang. They love it because it is more democratised, unlike other elite art forms. Anyone can watch it. All you need is a brain and a heart.”

(Proceeds of the event will go into helping under-privileged children)

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Printable version | Sep 15, 2021 2:28:16 PM |

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