July 2017 | by Carl Marsh
So you are finally coming to the UK! Why has it taken you this long?
I think the main reason is that I'm not a wilful defaulter that owes Rs. 27,000 Crores to banks in India. Just because I'm not Vijay Mallya - it's taken longer to be allowed in to England if you're not.
Will your routine be wholly in English as I know with the shows I have seen filmed in India that it's a mix of English and Hindi.
All my international routines are very much in English. It's an homage to the British. Every word I speak in English is me forgiving you guys for 190 years of rule. But seriously - I did a tour of US, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. And, I make sure *everyone* in the crowd including non-Indians understand exactly what I'm saying. Even if it involves spontaneous translations. The majority of the crowd in my shows are 80% Indians and 20% non-Indians. And, I want to ensure the remaining 20% never go home disappointed. Because, I can't afford refunds!
Additionally, ALL the jokes will be new. Nothing I've released on YouTube, Amazon Prime or Facebook.
Your material takes the piss out of current issues in and around India, how will you tailor it so that it has the right impact over here in the UK?
Oh, you can expect at least 10-12 minutes of jokes centred around the UK. I've already been workshoppping jokes on Brexit, the British rule in India and the very concept of a monarchial democracy, your greatest gift to us i.e. cricket. I'd hit cliches like British food and football fans but, it's been covered too often. So, I probably will hit those two because I'm completely shameless. Especially the show in Manchester, it will not be complete without some mention of Manchester United.
I will also do an ode to the British love for the pint. it's definitely something we can wholeheartedly agree on! Though, my Indian liver cannot compete with the more experienced British one.
What makes a good joke?
I wouldn't know. I've spent 9 years trying to write one!
Most of the time though I've realised that audience feedback is the best barometer for a joke. I usually write FURIOUSLY! Especially with this new show, Rant of the Pant, the idea is to write 10 minutes of new content every week because I'm doing a lot of international audiences.
My process is this:
- I'll write 20 minutes on a topic.
- Try all 20 at Open Mikes and the like.
- Remove 18 minutes which were horrific.
- Discover 6 minutes extra while working the room.
- And, I finally have 8 minutes that I hadn't planned at all!
There must be some topics that you will never joke about, or is everything fair game as it's just too hard not to offend somebody on this planet of ours these days, just ask Ricky Gervais!?
Gervais is just gold. Especially, when he stands in front of pretentious idiots and takes the piss out of them. It's a comedian's dream. You do have to be careful, especially, these days. I would have said especially in India but, I don't think that's entirely true. Globally, people are pretending to be more and more PC, and increasingly sensitive. However, standup comedy audiences especially in India tend to be getting smarter. The consumers of our content tend to not be fans of the status quo. And they are sick to the teeth of political and religious leaders dictating what they can consume. Unfortunately, the voices of idiots is always louder than reasonable people. It takes only 1 person out of a 1000 to behave like a total dick and pretend they represent the remaining 999.
I wholeheartedly agree!
Have you always wanted to be a comedian then and how did you break the "sad" news to your family, how did they take it?
My family were aghast, initially. Because they didn't know what being a comedian meant. The easy part was: neither did I! Fortunately, I've always set the bar rather low with regard to my own achievements. So, my family was just happy that I wasn't some unemployed vagrant that shows up at their doorstep asking for handouts to spend on LSD. They were happy for me. I didn't even know doing this was an option to be honest. I started in 2008 in India when there was no standup comedy scene to speak of. Once the popularity increased and the monies became tolerable: my family was even more supportive.
It helps having parents that are young at heart. And, also having a sister that achieved most of their dreams before me!
I know you founded The East India Comedy a few years back now but is it all a blur now from those early days to the huge success it is now? (What made you set it up?)
I didn't even want to set it up. I got into standup for anarchy. To be against the system, not to be part of it.
But, I'm glad we did.
And by the way, I fully comprehend the irony of someone from The East India Comedy coming to England to do shows. This is history in reverse. The idea of EIC though was to produce content we wanted to do and tour all across the country and outside, and make a ton of money. 2 out of those 3 goals came true! Though, after 200 million views online in total - we have zero complaints.
I can see you ending up on the big screen at some point, no doubt you can see it happening, just not in one of these all singing and dancing fairy tale productions - there must be something in the pipeline?
I get asked to audition a lot. Invariably my tour dates are a spanner in the works. Touring all across the globe and India 20 days a month does not an actor make. I recently had a big film company ask me if I could grow my hair. I said I could but, biology has abandoned me. They did too. My hair lost me a job!
I've never aimed for Bollywood. I love some of the new-age films coming out now and the standards are increasing daily. I'd love to do a film and just try and do something new. And, I'm totally open to doing the song and dance bits also. Even though I can't dance and no one has fairy tale dreams about me.
But standup is priority. If something falls in my lap (like a heroine), I won't complain.
Do you regret anything? Or is life one big journey for you, learn from your mistakes and all that?
I regret starting a joint account with my wife but, that's more on a personal front.
I do have regrets but, that's why I'm a comedian. I can whine about my regrets and bad decisions to a crowd every night and they HAVE to listen! Who has time for regrets when you have 200 - 1000 therapists at your disposal!
What makes you tick?
Earlier, it would be the love of comedy.
Now, it's feeding my family. 2 kids and 1 wife - both kids from the same wife. I have my hands full. Every time I have a doubt about my career - I see my son's face looking up at me and reminding me that I have to pay for his education.
Bills are the best way to make you tick!
When people meet you, do they expect you to perform with jokes all the time, or do you just tell them to fuck off, politely, or are you really the non-stop entertainer?
Ha ha! I'm fun in real life but, not hilarious. I prefer conversations with people. If I'm free. I'll talk to you about your life. Because that's what makes me really tick as a comedian. We are chroniclers and gatherers of information. And, conversation is the source of all of that.
I sound really pretentious but I'm a dude that makes dick jokes!
I'm usually polite unless someone is being too abrasive. I recently had a dude ask for a selfie while I was in the urinal. That's just stupid. I was not holding a selfie stick!
What will be the least expected thing your fans will expect you to have done over here once your tour ends in the UK?
The least expected thing would be to discover that I haven't sold out. I'm trying to project an aura of true swag and self-confidence. Fortunately, ticket sales are going very well especially for the show in London - so, I'm quite happy. The least expected thing would be for me to refuse to leave England and just migrate. Or, as an Indian - is that the most expected? The last shows are in Milton Keynes and Watford - so, let's see!
I'm crap at jokes, so if I said to you "A man walks into a bar..." - what would you say?
He can't enter. The bar is set way too low. Much like my jokes!