Stand-up comedy accepts new reality, goes digital

With Covid-19 bringing our lives to a standstill, industries from sports to business and entertainment are writhing in losses. The pandemic has racked the cosmos of stand-up comedy as well, but the digital world is allowing them space. Instead of a jam-packed comedy club, this time comedians are appearing on our computer screens, bringing the much-needed smile on our faces during this time of doom and gloom.

“I have been doing numerous corporate shows, I have people on my screen who I can talk to and hear them laugh.” says Papa CJ, a prominent face in the stand-up comedy circles. Numerous organisations approach him for online motivational stints but spiced up with a pinch of comedy. “I can combine a corporate trainer and a motivational speaker with my standup comedy and do those sessions for my client. Therefore, they don’t have to worry about an entertainment budget and it can come out of the learning budget.

It works quite well,” says Papa CJ. In the wake of the pandemic, while stand-up comedians manage an extensive online reach, they are facing the inevitable financial brunt. “Moneywise it has been a huge issue. It is a problem for a lot of us as the shows and outdoor events where we usually performed went away,” says Amit Tandon, another ace stand-up comedian. But not all are eager to switch to the digital world. “I am not doing any shows online as I am a layman when it comes to technology.

I tried my best to use what I could understand. Moreover, I have been travelling for the past year and was very busy. So, this is a good break for me and I am enjoying it.” says Anubhav Singh. Comedians like Jeeveshu Ahluwalia yearn for performing live in front of the tangible audience. “Our comedy is very physically and visually combined, so when we get a platform like Zoom where there are just 20 to 25 people, you learn as you go.

The camera on the laptop limits the visuals, you can’t radiate comic hints through body language, which is a vital part. A stand-up comic always feeds through his audience, that’s when the confidence gets better and the jokes come out smoother,” says Ahluwalia, who shot to prominence after winning FM channel’s award, ‘King of Comedy’. While the comedians may miss the thrill of performing in front of a live audience, they understand the new reality of life and are already preparing for a post-corona world.

“We have to get used to the circumstances and we have to adapt. Everybody is adapting and the key is once you open your mind towards it and get used to the camera, it’s fun. Not only does it enhance your ability on various new platforms, when you go back to performing for a live audience, but you also become better and come with this new conquered energy. There are new skills you acquire, new content you pick up. Lockdown has been a blessing in disguise, I am writing my second book which would have been difficult during my normal routine”, says Papa CJ. Copy: Meenakshi Upreti

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