Love Chris Rock and his angry vibe
At a time when smartphones and highspeed internet was taking off, comedian Rohan Joshi’s career was in its nascent stage. He started the All India Bakchod (AIB) YouTube channel in 2013 along with fellow comedians Tanmay Bhat, Gursimran Khamba and Ashish Shakya.
Over the years, Rohan has tried to build his own brand of comedy as well. With his new solo stand-up special Wake N Bake, produced by Only Much Louder (OML), the comedian opens up about comedy, Online platforms, and more.
Could you share some details about your latest show?
Wake N Bake is my first ever stand-up special. It has taken me about a year and a half to write it. It is a selection of jokes and thoughts about various topics. It does have a common theme running but it is at the end of the day, a collection of jokes. They are not massively deep or profound. It’s just me on stage for an hour, taking the audience on a journey. It is about things that I am learning as I grow older.
Why is it that you thought that this was the right time to come up with a show like this?
It’s just something that I wanted to do but I had other priorities. Now, I finally feel like I have time and it also feels like I am ready to do a show by myself. Although I have been in comedy for a decade, it is kind of embarrassing that I hadn’t written an hour-long solo special yet. That is the reason I wanted to get this done.
What do you think of the various online streaming platforms that are emerging?
It is incredible and a blessing for comedians such as myself. They allow you to host so many different shows that a traditional television format wouldn’t. You can have unlimited content on these platforms. In television, there is the scope of making something theatrical or a typical series. These platforms give you a much larger platform to try different styles and genres, as a creator. In comedy itself, so many sessions are different from one another. But, the biggest boon has been quality content. It doesn’t have to fall into the mediocrity of television.
Why do these platforms give comedy so much importance?
People live stressful lives. News is so scary these days, so maybe people need that catharsis of laughter. Comedy is also another way of presenting an argument as opposed to shouting at people’s faces. That’s why we need comedy.
What genre of comedy is trending right now?
There are a bunch of genres. Though the one thing we notice right now is relatability. Earlier, if you kept yourself away from the crowd, it was considered mysterious. But now, if you’re more relatable or humane, the audience is able to see themselves in you. It is evident from the latest crop of internet stars as well, who try to work their way around relatable content, and I’ve heard so many people in the crowd say, ‘oh my god, that is so me!’ to those jokes.
What does it take for a stand-up comedian to connect with the audience?
On stage, good jokes and interesting stage presence is what sets you apart.
Who is your favourite comedian?
I love Kanan Gill and Zakir Khan. Internationally, Ali Wong is hilarious. I also like John Mulaney. From the older lot, I like Chris Rock, I love that angry vibe he carries on stage.
You were once a journalist and then you became the ‘news’ itself. How do you feel about that? Does it come with a lot of stress?
It comes with a little stress because at the end of the day, you’re in front of the public eye, but that’s a very small trade-off. There are other benefits such as people treat you nicely, it pays well, you get to do what you love for a living.
Being a journalist has helped me understand what to say, and what not to say. I know what I could get misquoted on, I am aware of how content can be selectively edited against me. There are people with their own agendas waiting for an opportunity to tweak things I say. Coming from a news background, it has helped me be more aware and careful.
Could regional comedy ever be mainstream?
It was always mainstream. For the simple fact that there are more people who speak and relate to their respective vernacular languages. A Johnny Lever or a Raju Srivastava will have way more viewers than I do. I don’t think it is different, it has always been mainstream for a really long time. Their number and their tickets have been higher. In fact, we are the industry that’s new and are playing catch up with them with our semi-adult and semi-English comedy. We are the ones trying to break into their mainstream.