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Neville Shah’s checklist of 10 things to never ask a comedian

When comedians hang out, they make fun of the questions we ask them all the time. Here’s a ready reckoner

HT48HRS_Special Updated: Feb 09, 2017 17:55 IST
Neville Shah

(Illustration: Shutterstock)

When comedians hang out, they make fun of the questions we ask them all the time. Here’s a ready reckoner

This is in no order. Just remember you shouldn’t ask a comedian any of these things. Ever. Not only do we hate these questions, there’s a chance you’ll get humiliated. Not if you’re important, of course. Because we also like money.

1. Hey, where do you get the inspiration for your material?
Well, you. People like you. Your life, and how it sucks and how everything you say sounds like a brain fart.

2. Do you improvise all your material?
No, we don’t. We write. Rehearse. Test it out. Then come on stage. This isn’t some magic gift that turns on every time we walk onto a stage. It’s difficult. When you pay to come see us, we do our best to make you laugh.

Read: ‘My baby is my muse’ - Sorabh Pant

3. Why don’t you write new material for every show?
Because, you nitwit, it’s not easy. It takes time to develop material. It takes time for words to come into a formation that makes it that perfect joke. And so, if you come to see the same comedian in about six months and there aren’t enough new jokes, it’s your fault.

4. Do you change your material depending on an audience?
Well, it depends. The base usually stays the same and then we oversell or undersell a joke depending on your ability to get it. So when you see a comedian sweating it out, think of yourself as a really dumb audience.

5. Hey, you’re really boring off stage. How come?
Well, because being a comedian is a job. When we are on stage, it’s a tough gig. Telling jokes in character. That’s really not who or how we are. And, yes, we have fun. Maybe just not with you.

6. Can I take a selfie with you?
Honestly, we are flattered. More often than not, we are surprised. But ask for a picture, not a selfie. Well, that’s just me because I am old and the word selfie annoys me. But a sincere request; if we’ve just gotten off stage, just wait a while. Give us time to breathe.

7. When and how did you start comedy?
This one is for the press. Do your research. Every comedian has answered this at least 45 times. So read and ask questions that we want to answer.

8. What else do you do?
We do a lot of things. Most of them aren’t your business at all.

9. Hey, you’re a comedian, no? Tell me a joke.
No. I won’t. Never ask this to a comedian. Ever. Buy an effing ticket. When you meet a doctor, do you ask him the formula for a paracetamol over dinner?

10. How much money to do you make?
F*** you.

Comedian Neville Shah

Shah is a half-Gujarati, half-Parsi (and often angry about it) stand-up comedian and writer. He tweets as @craziebawa

Neville Shah’s solo special, What Are You Laughing At?, will be held on February 11, 7pm and 9pm
At Tuning Fork, next to Khar railway station, Khar

Entry: Rs 350 on insider.in