British comedian Anil Desai, who is on his first India tour, is hopeful that India will generate more stand up comedians. He has plenty of advice for start-ups.
“It’s not that difficult. If you have funny stories and observations to share, and everyone laughs at them, you know you can do it,” he points out, advising students to form comedy clubs at school and college level, as a first step. “The Comedy Store, too, holds plenty of auditions for amateurs. Of course, you should also watch as much stand up as you can,” said Desai after he performed at the Blue Frog courtesy Daniel Hechter’s LOL! nights.
Desai cites the example of a fraternity of comedians he met when he performed in Bangalore recently. “They were all doctors and professionals, doing comedy as a hobby. It’s great!” he says.
Known as Stand Up Chameleon for his ability to switch gears promptly and impersonate over 50 known faces, Desai is familiar with the wave of racial comedy a la Russell Peters. “I do some of that as well, except, I make fun of famous people!” he laughs.
About his maiden performance in India, Desai says he’s enjoying the response he has received so far. “Audiences here are so lively, it’s like they’re watching a movie!” he marvels.
“They cheer certain impersonations or things you say and nod in agreement or say ‘oooh’ when they don’t agree. Even after the show, they had lots to tell me. It was remarkable. My one-hour show went on for an additional 45 minutes without an interval. It’s never happened before!”