Welcome to Maxim!
What’s happening, buddy?
Which stand-up comedian are you following right now?
I think Dave Chappelle is doing the best work that he has ever done in his career. In terms of a special that really blew my mind was Nanette by Hannah Gadsby. I feel this show pushed the boundaries and changed parameters of what stand-up comedy stands for. When it comes to Indian comedians, I’ve always been a big fan of Johnny Lever. I love a good hasya kavi muqabla; so, I love mushairas and poetry, and that kind of vibe. I spend a lot of time watching Urdu and Hindi comedians from Lucknow, as well.
How different is it to perform in front of an international audience, compared to your Indian fans?
I’ve been doing stand-up comedy for about three to four years now, touring the world and performing for both Indian and international audiences. What I feel is that ‘base-level’ funny is funny, period. In terms of an international audience, they sometimes require a little bit more explanation of the Indian context. But, the difference between the two is not really too broad anymore. Indians are watching Louis C.K. while international people are watching Sacred Games. It’s becoming a very small world. So, for guys like me who don’t fit in here (in India) or there (abroad), but travel both shores, it’s much better now.
How was it performing in New York City for your first Netflix original, Abroad Understanding?
New York is the toughest comedy club in the world. They’ve seen the best. On any given night, you can go and see Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle, the best comedians in the business, performing at a club. So, the idea behind performing in New York was to make a statement that, “If I can make the New Yorkers laugh, then I belong in the international comedy scene.” Although I do feel that New York as an audience is definitely 30-40 years more experienced than the New Delhi audience; but, our Delhi audience is also 30-40 percent louder and more energetic than any other audience in the world. New York was credibility and New Delhi, the heart.
Finally, movies or stand-up comedy?
I think both. There’s no reason that you can’t work on both effectively. Even abroad, the through-line of a comedian’s career is to go from comedy to television to films. So, if I am shooting one American series, one Indian movie and a big tour every year, it’s a good year for me.