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Being Hoezaay: From popular RJ to social media sensation

Former RJ and VJ José (pronounced Hoezaay, which is also his Twitter handle) has used humour to become a social media star: he’s four seasons into his podcast, and is wildly popular on Snapchat and Vine. But, as we learn the hard way, punctuality isn’t his strongest suit

HT48HRS_Special Updated: Jun 25, 2016 14:02 IST
Manali Shah
HT48Hours

José Covaco(Photo: Satish Bate/Hindustan Times)

Former RJ and VJ José (pronounced Hoezaay, which is also his Twitter handle) has used humour to become a social media star: he’s four seasons into his podcast, and is wildly popular on Snapchat and Vine. But, as we learn the hard way, punctuality isn’t his strongest suit.

We’re at One Network Entertainment’s office and studio space in Lower Parel. Actor and comedian Suresh Menon (its co-founder) and us have spent two hours waiting for José Covaco to show up. The former video jockey, radio jockey and overall funnyman has overslept and is late for our afternoon appointment. (He’s been shooting through the day and editing through the nights, he tells us.) To add to it, there’s a taxi strike in the city. Covaco (34) is stranded in Bandra until fellow comedian Cyril D’abs, who lives a stone’s throw away, comes to the rescue and drives down with Covaco.

Covaco and Menon are long-time friends, former colleagues (at Red FM) and have been doing a podcast called Kaan Masti together since 2012. Season four of Kaan Masti launched this month, and it features D’abs as well.

Meanwhile, we chat with Menon (49) about everything under the sun: from Twitter outrage to women’s safety issues. Menon even shoots a Vine video with us in it. In the six second clip, he announces “Waiting for Jose”; the next shot shows all of us dozing and snoring. He then puts it up to get Covaco’s attention.

He has other tricks up his sleeve. He calls up Covaco and tells him our senior photographer has stormed off. He tells us to pretend to be extremely angry when Covaco finally gets there. Well, with such an entertaining host, at least we can’t complain about getting bored in those two hours.

When Covaco finally manages to reach, he bends down to touch our feet in faux-apology. He even offers to come over and clean our houses to make up for it.

Instead, we get talking about how Kaan Masti came about. The podcast is essentially Covaco and Menon (and now D’abs) talking about the most random things — from current affairs to day-to-day life experiences. It’s meandering, unscripted, often sexually explicit, and quite profane. As their website (kaanmasti.com) declares, “Trust us, you don’t want your grandmother walking into the room when you’re listening to KaanMasti. You might have to tell her it’s porn, because that would be easier to explain… the best way to listen to Kaan Masti is with headphones on (sic).”

The podcast began during Covaco and Menon’s radio days. The former radio jockeys were the co-hosts of a spot called Comedy No. 1. In their free time, the duo realised they have some fun conversation. Covaco says, “Initially I wanted to record it without telling Suresh because people are different when they know they are being shot or recorded. But then consent is an issue, so I told him. Eventually, a lot of our colleagues started hanging out with us just to listen to us talk. So, I thought, ‘Why not put the content out there?’”

Also read: Is the podcast the next big thing?

Covaco and Suresh Menon strike a pose (Photo: Satish Bate/Hindustan Times)

Today, Covaco is hugely popular on Twitter (371K followers), and on Snapchat, where pictures of him with his young daughter are much-loved. “She’s eight months old and her name is Chloe. In Hindi, it’s Chole [as in chole bature]. She’s like a little drunk person right now,” he says, imitating an infant trying to talk.

Currently, Covaco makes branded content for companies like Lipton Ice Tea (with D’abs) and Brand Factory (with Menon) for his social media accounts. He is also a Vine star. One of the most popular Indian users on the video sharing platform, he has over 5,791,700 loops to his credit.

Radio though, happened to Covaco by fluke. As a final year science student at RD National College, Bandra, he began interning at Red FM. It was a learning experience: “In radio, everyone does everything.” And soon, in 2002, he was offered a chance to be on air. “I remember the first time I was to go on air. I was terrified.” But Covaco’s tongue-in-cheek humour and rapport with co-host Menon (who played various avatars like Angry Ganeshan and Kamla of Kamla ka Hamla) worked well with listeners. They did it until 2014, when they felt stagnated.

And despite the social media fame and popularity, radio remains Covaco’s first love: “I would love to be back on air.”

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Visit kaanmasti.com to listen to the podcast.