Life & Style

Laughter isn’t a panacea but it definitely helps: Punit Pania

Punit Pania

Punit Pania   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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Mumbai-based stand-up comic, who traded the corporate for comedy, is set to tickle your funny bone this Deepavali in Thiruvananthapuram

“For us, weekends are our working days and Mondays are our Sundays,” quips Punit Pania. But the stand-up comic has no complaints about such “occupational hazards”. The Mumbai-based comedian, after all, left a “lucrative” corporate job to get into the business of delivering punchlines. This Deepavali, Punit is all set to tickle your ribs with his first performance in the city, titled ‘Gainfully Employed’.

Punit says the giant leap from the corporate world into comedy was never really planned, unlike his jokes. “I was working in the management wing in the pharmaceutical industry. But I used to write, mostly humour pieces and blogs, in my free time. Later, I tried writing books, but nothing materialised. Then on a lucky day, a friend said: “Dude, you write funny stuff and why don’t you try comedy. There are open mics in Mumbai itself and you can try your hand at it.” Once I starting participating, I was hooked. Soon, I quit my job to become a full-time comedian,” Punit says over phone from Chennai where he had a performance.

Pan-Indian audience

A sneak-peek into the 33-year-old’s eponymous YouTube channel, which he launched in December 2017, shows his taste for humour appealing to a pan-Indian audience, with his tongue-in-cheek takes on topics such as Aadhaar card, television serials, fake news, NRIs and so on. He says, as an Indian, living in a “particularly interesting time”, it’s inevitable for him to explore and dissect such aspects through comedy. “As a comedian, your own experiences find their way into your jokes. However, they are not a copycat reflection of my journey. Rather, I try to put them into perspective for the audience. Also, there are certain social issues that I want to discuss, matters that concern all of us,” he says.

Funny side up
  • Punit says his “hero” is the late American stand-up comedian George Carlin, terming his jokes as “timeless”, while American comic and satirist Bill Hicks “comes a close second.” Apart from anecdotes, Punit says some of his material comes from reading philosophy and sci-fi books. “For a stand-up comic, they help you see life through a different lens,” he says.

Punit says what he intends to make fun of are “the delusions” that people live in. “You want to make them think of the state of affairs. But the jokes have to memorable as well. Did the audience laugh? Yes. But did they also take home something, that too must a yes. That’s the challenge that gives me a high,” he explains.

So, is laughter really the medicine to all the problems? “I wouldn’t say it’s a panacea but it definitely helps. At the end of the day, humour is just one of the emotions a person goes through but it can be an effective vehicle to talk about matters that are serious and political as well. Just because it’s stand-up comedy, it doesn’t mean it is superficial or low-key. When well-presented, it can be hard-hitting and yet rib-tickling,” he says, adding that perhaps the most important requirement for a comedian is to “grow a thick skin.” “In this profession, you face the music every day. Many comedians are funny but drop out as they may lack the heart to carry on,” says Punit, who founded the platform Chalta Hai Comedy that promotes comics and produces performances.

He says ‘Gainfully Employed’ will be tailored to suit a Malayali audience. “Usually, my performances are 70 per cent in English and 30 per cent in Hindi. This time, it will be 100 per cent in English,” he says. About Indians’ sense of humour, the comic says “as a nation, we are still very touchy about a lot of things. A lot of topics are still off-limits. We take ourselves a little too seriously sometimes, we need to loosen up more.” So, does he take himself too seriously? “(Laughs) In personal life, maybe, sometimes. On the stage, not at all... everything is up for a joke.”

Gainfully Employed’ will be held at Space, Thekkummodu, at 6 pm on October 27. The show is hosted by stand-up comic Vinay Menon. Early bird tickets come at ₹150 and entry afterwards is ₹250.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 1:34:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/stand-up-comic-punit-pania-looks-back-at-his-journey-to-the-stage-and-how-he-creates-the-laughs/article29785523.ece

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