You watched Eddie Murphy’s stand-up show, Delirious, when you were a four-year-old?
It’s not really that kid-friendly. (Laughs) I was eight actually. My family and I used to get VHS tapes from a bootlegged Indian store in Canada and the owner only kept Hindi movies. This one time, I saw this tape with an English title on his shelf and I insisted we get it. I went home and started watching it with my brother and we couldn’t stop laughing, even though it was all cuss this and cuss that. Then my dad objected and he ended up joining us, and so did my mom. It was a supremely dysfunctional moment, but I knew that day, that this is what I wanted to do in life. It felt so good. It could change perceptions.
And that’s why you started stand-up, when you were so young?
I did start young and like most comedians, it took me 10 years to get a break. And I realise that now. Comedy isn’t like playing the guitar, where you can practice alone. You need feedback from the audience to see if the joke is working. You need to be up there at open mic nights. Unlike most professions, in this one, your failure is public.
Has Russell Peters ruined it a bit for Indian-born Canadian comics? Does your work ever get compared to his?
Not any more. In the beginning… (pauses). The more people see me... (pauses). My comedy is broad now.
What has inspired your upcoming gig in Mumbai so far?
I think there’s a rivalry that outsiders don’t understand, between north and south Mumbai. I think it’s a little ridiculous, guys (laughs); you need to start picking on another city or country. I call Bandra the Kashmir of Mumbai; it’s being tugged around in all directions. So that’s one of the many things I’ll pick on.
The artiste will perform at St Andrew’s Auditorium in Bandra as part of the Comedy Central India Sugar Sammy Tour on March 17.