‘Everything that makes me money is self-taught,’ says comedian Kenneth Sebastian | more lifestyle | Hindustan Times
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‘Everything that makes me money is self-taught,’ says comedian Kenneth Sebastian

From stand-up acts to viral videos and musical comedy, Kenneth Sebastian has done it all. Ahead of his act at NH7 Weekender, he talks about finding humour in simple things

HT48HRS_Special Updated: Dec 01, 2016 17:23 IST
Soma Das
Comedian Kenneth Sebastian
Comedian Kenneth Sebastian (Photo courtesy: Kenneth Sebastian)

From stand-up acts to viral videos and musical comedy, Kenneth Sebastian has done it all. Ahead of his act at NH7 Weekender, he talks about finding humour in simple things

It takes a few tries to get through to stand-up comedian Kenneth Sebastian (25). When we finally do, his cable guy apparently decides to arrive. Sebastian says it’s been eight months since he moved in to his Bandra apartment (he moved from Bengaluru), and he is still settling in.

So, what does a man with the gift of the gab do? He multitasks, juggling his stand-up acts, YouTube spoofs and live video interactions with his audience.

While he may be new to Mumbai, his fame precedes him (94.4k followers on Instagram; 175k followers on Twitter). Unlike other stand-up comedians, who are part of groups, Sebastian prefers to go solo. And he’s used social media to spread the word. “I make sure I update often, and I am equally active on all platforms,” he says.

Once part of an eponymous blues band — Anup and Kenneth — Sebastian is also known for his musical comedy, where he sings humorous songs on his guitar. This weekend, he will team up with comedian Abish Mathew to perform a musical set at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, Pune.

How it started

With his father working in the Navy, Sebastian grew up in various cities such as Jamnagar, Gujarat, and Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. Academics held little interest for him, but he was keen on music and art, and he found himself observing people. “I avidly watched YouTube and I was amazed at the things people my age were doing,” he says. One of the earlier adopters of YouTube, Sebastian started his own channel in 2007, at age 15. Being a fan of comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Louis CK, he chose to upload humorous short films.

While Sebastian was studying painting at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, he attended IIT Bombay’s annual festival, Mood Indigo and won (2010). He was 19 then, and the experience made him realize that stand-up was his calling.

The friendly comedian

Sebastian’s appeal lies in creating humour around everyday things. Case in point: a YouTube comedy sketch on how Indians drive has clocked in 284,232 views; and his sci-fi comedy web series spoofing Star Wars — called Star Boyz — has over 297,604 views.

“The audience sees me as a friend,” says Sebastian. That explains the monthly live video blog called Chai Time with Kenny. Here, he casually chats with people over tea, and discusses mundane issues like reading newspapers and listening to EDM music. “I wanted to do a show with a live audience. I get 60 to 80 people, and I encourage them to talk to me,” he adds.

In 2014, Sebastian did his first TV show for Comedy Central, an improv comedy called The Living Room. It only made him more determined to stick to YouTube: “There were too many restrictions on TV. I realised that my target audience does not even watch TV.”

Sebastian is currently working on the second season of Star Boyz, the next session of Chai Time…, and new specials (one-hour comedy shows split in five videos). From January, he heads on a countrywide and global tour with his new show — Don’t Be That Guy.

“My experiences in film-making, music and visual design (learned through online tutorials) help me in my career today. Everything that makes me money is self-taught,” he says.

Abish + Kenny will be performing at NH Weekender on December 3
At Life Republic, Hinjewadi, Pune
For tickets, visit insider.in