Written by Alifiya Nalwala
Let’s get this straight first, I am not a joke writer. I am a storyteller. I weave stories out of things that I see and experience. People just find the way I see things as funny. I don’t strive to write jokes or make people laugh, the situations I imagine should just make me laugh,” says Delhi-based Gaurav Kapoor, a name which is rising in popularity in the Indian stand-up comedy circuit.
Known for his funny take on everyday life situations — his stand-up specials have subjects like smartphones and passwords, and destination weddings. The journalism degree holder, who quit his corporate job for full-time comedy, says he finds something funny in almost everything. And if you ask him, that’s what works.
“Traditional jokes like Santa-Banta, Gujarati-Punjabi in the house have become predictable. People demand new things and that’s why I turn to everyday life for inspiration because we keep growing and have so many new experiences. For example, earlier even I did a lot of mummy-daddy jokes but I now realise that people have heard a lot of them, so the laughs are getting fewer. We need to reinvent,” he says.
And it’s this need to grow which has led him to start doing dark comedy — a genre which Kapoor rarely touched earlier.
“The Indian stand-up scene is maturing a lot, both in terms of audience and content creators. Earlier if someone cracked a joke on dowry, people wouldn’t understand or get offended. But now people would appreciate the subtle humour. So even I have started to dab in it a bit. I think while we are a long way off from the international scene, here in India, we are catching up fast,” he says.
Even then comedians have had their fair share of backlash and continue to get it. From having shows cancelled because of trolling, Kapoor has had his fair share. It happened when he cracked a joke on Royal Enfield. “It was so mild, it isn’t the kind of thing which people like Karma (Kunal) have faced,” he says.
Is this the reason why the comedian steers clear of any political jokes on stage, despite his Twitter account being flooded with anti-right wing posts? “Even comedians live in this country and get affected by things, so I voice out things which I feel. And as far as playing safe on stage goes, I just haven’t been able to develop a joke on politics so far. I try my new acts in open mics and while I did a lot of these jokes there, they somehow didn’t make it to stage because they didn’t get as many laughs or I didn’t find them funny,” he says.
While Kapoor uses few social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook regularly to engage his fans, he admits that he isn’t as invested in it as the other comedians, many of whom have used it to build a loyal fanbase. “I trust my jokes,” he says with a laugh. Nevertheless he points out that he makes an attempt. His first TikTok video came out this week.
Kapoor who credits Zakir Khan for the sudden interest in Hindi stand-up, admits he is a fan of Vipul Goyal’s comedy. However he doesn’t aspire to be like any of them. Ask him if he has set a goal for himself and says, “I never thought about it.”
But with the Indian stand-up scene getting crowded day by day, does he have some plan for carving a niche for himself? “See this competition is useless. However much ever I try, I cannot do beyond five stage shows in a month and a few gigs. Imagine our population and how much scope we have. This is not a race. Every comic will find their audience,” says Kapoor.
Gaurav Kapoor’s show, which was earlier scheduled for March 15, will now take place in the summer.