Vipul Goyal’s is the typical story of a guy wanting to make it big. He hails from a village in Rajasthan — Falna. He did his schooling from a convent in Mt. Abu, made it to IIT Bombay, got laid off after six months at his first job, experimented with theatre and finally found himself at the heart of the booming standup comedy scene in India.
This was five years ago. Today, he is the leading man of The Viral Fever’s newly-launched web series, Humorously Yours.
In a freewheeling conversation, the 33-year-old talks about the life of a standup comic in our country, his association with TVF, and the show, that premiered on December 11. Excerpts from the interview:
You are a standup comic. How did you land the leading role in a TVF web series?
I am a member of TVF’s core team and was the chief writer of their popular show, Barely Speaking with Arnub. Having performed at comic gigs for over five years now, I am their window encyclopedia for standup comedy. So when it was decided that we’d next do a show around standup comedians, it felt only natural that I play the lead. We wanted someone who could add authenticity to the role.
What was the idea behind creating a web series around the standup comedy scene in India?
Standup comics are usually shown as sidekicks. They are the hero’s best friend, never the hero themselves. Since the buzz and curiosity around standup comedy is huge right now, we thought it’d be interesting to show people what really happens behind the stage and all that goes into creating a 15-minute act.
How different is acting from standup comedy?
Standup comedy is all about the moment. Everything is instantaneous—the action, reaction and the gratification. There are no retakes. It’s a one-man show — you are directing, rehearsing, performing and improvising, all on your own.
Acting is a collaborative process. There is an entire team working on the project. There is an exchange of energies and ideas. It’s more protected, more refreshing.
Standup comics often suffer content-crunch. How do you mitigate the crisis?
If you’ve seen a comedian perform for 45 minutes, you need not see them for another year. It takes around 18 months to create a 30-minute long gig. Refreshing content is a long, ongoing process. There times when people see a comedian perform too often and then complain of stale content.
As a comic, you can put out a tweet before your gig warning people that it’d probably be the same show as four months ago. Creating a special and naming your show is another good idea. That way people would know if they’ve seen it already or not.
How do you think the standup comedy scene in India has evolved over the last five years?
In terms of opportunities, the number of events that are being organised, the money that everyone’s making and audience’s acceptance, there’s been a 5000% growth in this sector in the last five years.
It’s become immense. Our gigs are no longer limited to the metros. We are everywhere—YouTube channels, tier-two cities, stage shows, cafés and pubs. And the graph is only going to go up.
What would you say to aspiring standup comics?
Perform at open-mics as much as you can. It’s a great platform to listen to other comics, and test and experiment with your content.
Do not quit your job in the first three years. You’ll need time to find out if you are stage funny. A lot of people can crack jokes among their peers but it is totally different to make unknown people laugh.
You have to be shameless and keep at it. Do not get bogged down by unfavourable response. If you are any good, you’ll make it.
The author tweets @sneha_bengani
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