Aishwarya Mohanraj: In comedy, there’s a lot of scrutiny, everyone gets offended about 10 different things

To be honest, my journey has been pretty great, I can’t complain. I probably was at the right place at the right time, says stand-up comedian and writer Aishwarya Mohanraj

Comedian Aishwarya Mohanraj
Comedian Aishwarya Mohanraj

Zaheeb Ajmal

Comedian Aishwarya Mohanraj in an interaction with Zaheeb Ajmal talks about the present scenario of comedy in India, her struggles and her new show. Aishwarya also goes on to talk about why comedians are being careful in their performances nowadays.

Tell us about the show Amazon Funnies and the set you are performing?

Basically, as a part of Amazon Funnies, we comedians are coming out with 10 minutes sets, which are going to be released in the interval of one hour, starting from 10:00 AM on August 7. And my set will come at 12:00 PM. So it’s a 10 minute set, which is titled how to win a breakup, which is probably clickbait-kind because I talk about it for two minutes and talk about how I joined a gym to get a revenge board and stuff, and my whole process of joining the gym, being irritated in the gym, not being able to actually workout well and then finally giving up.

You were working as an analyst at Nielesn and then you quit your job to be a stand up comedian. Tell us about your journey?

To be honest, my journey has been pretty great, I can’t complain. I probably was at the right place at the right time. Because I started doing comedy and within three months I did Comicstaan. I got access to a lot of things which probably other comedians don’t at such an early stage in their career. And Comicstaan worked out well for me afterwards. And I did not have to look back and do a corporate job. I could get writing assignments and I have done fairly well since then. Even otherwise I don’t think I’ve had any struggles to worry. Even if I think too much about it, man. I am comfortably right here.

How is the environment today for stand up comedians? Is it conducive or otherwise?

I think in recent times it’s just become good scenario for stand-up comedians, in the sense that there are many opportunities and people are looking at stand up (performances) as a legit career. Brands want to be associated with stand ups. So that’s, that’s definitely a plus point, but I also feel that in terms of what kind of comedy you can do, there is a lot of scrutiny in terms of who’s talking about what, and everyone is getting offended about 10 different things. Everyone is just being very, very careful about not to speak on certain things. Trying really hard to say whatever they want to say, but also say it in a way which doesn’t get them into trouble.

You don’t put out your content on digital platform very frequently, why so?

I have put up only one recently because I recorded my set some three, four times, and I was never happy with the outcome. So the thing is when you put out your first video on YouTube, you definitely want it to be good quality. I could have put it out before also, but I’ve not done a good enough job. So, I recently released a stand up video, but that was also because like finally I was happy with the outcome and the product. Now, I’m doing this Amazon Funnies which is also coming out. So you’ll see a lot more of me in this lockdown.

Given COVID-19, performing shows like before seems a faraway dream. How different and difficult has it been for you to record shows in your own home?

Obviously, doing a live show is way different because your reaction is very instant whereas when you record a stand up or like for Amazon funnies, we recorded the set facing a camera, it’s different. The audience was not there. So you don’t have reaction, right? You don’t know if it’s going to land or not. Normally during stand up, you tell a joke and then you wait for the laughter and that whole rhythm. The stand up is that, which is what makes it so much fun. You say a joke, people laugh and so on and so forth, the laughter builds the joke. Also, that’s how the energy also comes to the stand up. But with a recorded piece, you can’t pause then it becomes more of a monologue. It’s definitely not the same as live stand up.

What tips would you like to give to budding comedians, or to people who want to quit their job and be a stand up comedian

On a serious note, I would never say I was not the kind of person who takes too many risks. I quit my job before Comicstaan only because I had the financial security. I live with my parents in Bombay. That’s my privilege. I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t have my parents’ support. I will never say that because it hundred per cent depends on what your conditions are and how much stand up means to you and whether it’s viable to even quit a job and do stand up for a time.

But I would definitely say, keep trying, go for open mics, put out a video or do all of that. If there is a platform like Comicstaan. I would definitely recommend 100% because I know what it has done for me. So if there are platforms like this definitely apply for it, do the shows, get as much experience as you can, because it’s never going to hurt.

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Published: 07 Aug 2020, 1:08 PM