With people getting caught up in the daily anxieties of modern life,laughter has taken a back seat. Also, the need to conform to societal expectations has robbed them of the funny bone and the ability to accept themselves as they are. We have ended up taking ourselves too seriously. The way out of this however, seems to have come to us in the form of a unique craft –the stand-up comedy, which isn’t really a new art form.
Comedians have been there since ages, a glaring example of which are Shakespeare’s fools. They were wise men with a lot to say. Off late, a similar such coterie of “wise men” have sprung up in the lanes and bylanes of Kolkata, and given rise to an underground comedy scene in the city, which not many people are aware of. They are young and hopeful, and above all brave enough to deviate from the conventional way of life and take up something which is still a budding art form in India.
Homegrown talks to a few such local comedians who have had humble beginnings, but had been able to make a mark in the comedy scene of Kolkata.
I) Pritam Goswami
Pritam Goswami, a 25-year old budding comedian from Kolkata started out his journey at an open mic in Kolkata café. He sincerely believes that he ventured into comedy because the only thing he is good at, is touching his nose with his tongue! He is convinced that his best performance so far had been persuading his parents that he had taken up stand-up comedy as a serious profession. He has performed at cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, birthday parties, you name it! According to him, what sets apart stand-up comedy from other art forms is the fact that it needs a live audience to test out its potential. The challenges he had faced are the same as those of any struggling artist all over the world.
II) Sourodeep Sinha
Sourodeep Sinha, a final year MBBS student, has been writing poems and short stories in English and Hindi since he was in the 4th grade. He was introduced to stand-up comedy through performances of Russell Peters, and British comedy sketches by Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry and Rowan Atkinson. However, what inspired him the most were the stand-up videos of Bengali comedians Anirban Dasgupta and Biswa Kalyan Rath, whom he was introduced to way back in high school. His first show was called “The Bong-Maru Circus”, held at Doodle Room, Kolkata, where he had been able to keep the audience glued to their seats for a 24 minutes at a stretch. Recently, he had done a show called “Calcutta/Kolkata is a”, along with comedian Shiladitya Chatterjee, which drew a huge crowd in Kolkata. He claims his best performance to be at the N.R.S. medical college fest, Ecstasy, where he had been invited as a judge. He had also done shows with Bangalore comedians, including one with Dr. Aditya Shridhar called “Two Doctors”. His comedy is mostly inspired from real incidents like personal anecdotes, trials of being a Bengali and a doctor, jokes on Bengali culture, funny encounters in the hospital/OPD and more.
III) Aakash Singh
Budding comedian from Kolkata, Aakash Singh, thanks Google for initiating him on his journey to taking up stand-up comedy professionally. He has come a long way from goofing up his first show to having been able to gather a huge crowd in his recent opening show, which he claims to be his best performance so far. Aakash has done shows all around Kolkata, an opening for Vaibhav Sethia in Mumbai, had been in line up with Sonali Thakkar and Angad Singh and a bunch of open mics all over the country.
IV) Nishat Eqbal
Nishat Eqbal, a stand-up comedian from Kolkata, had his first performance at an open mic in a café called “Mocha”. Having been able to get over the initial jitters of performing publicly, Nishat has been at it for the last 2 years now, and continues to deliver good performances at clubs across Kolkata, as well as in Bombay and Bangalore. He got to open the Kolkata Comedy Festival earlier this year, and since then therev has been no turning back. According to Nishat, no other art form demands more originality, authenticity and truth as stand-up comedy.
V) Shiladitya Chatterjee
Shiladitya Chatterjee is a bored engineering student and a multi-talented person who has written poetry and directed plays. Encouraged by his friends, he started doing stand-up comedy professionally, and had his big break with a show organised by the company, “Unseen and Beyond” at Café HQ in Kolkata. He believes that even though Kolkata has a thriving comedy scene, it needs more promotional and marketing strategies to attract more talent. According to him, his best performance had been at the Cultural Fest Theme Reveal event at IIT Kharagpur this year in August, where he performed a piece on the theme “Struggle Bohut Hai”. He still remembers the day he performed at Kalidas auditorium where once Biswa Kalyan Rath used to perform.
VI) Farjad Zaman
Having been actively involved in dramatics in both school and college, Farjad Zaman always knew that being in front of the live audience is his thing. He performed for the first time in front of a big audience in a show called “The Great Indian Laughter Challenge” (Season 5). The response he had got from the Kolkata crowd had been overwhelming, and he hopes the euphoria would only increase in the years to come. According to him, his best performance had been an hour long show with another comedian, called “Tera Opinion Matter Nahi Karta” in April this year. Other than that, he had performed in corporate shows, comedy clubs and private shows in venues all over Kolkata, as well as in Mumbai, Bangalore, Asansol and Kharagpur. He enjoys doing political and social satire as well as a little bit of observational comedy.
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