We’re sure you must have seen and enjoyed many stand-up comedy acts, be it online or live. But do you really know what’s the process like? Well, we got in touch with the stand-up comedian Nitin Mirani, and asked him about his journey, the topics he performs on, the topics he avoids and a lot more. Read on…
Tell us a bit about your show Komic Sutra.
Well, Komic Sutra is a brand I came up with in Dubai in 2008, and actually had the debut show in Mumbai at Sophia Bhabha Auditorium in 2009, and ever since the show and the brand Komic Sutra has travelled all over the globe and has become my identity as I’m now called “Mr. Komic Sutra”.
What are the topics you perform on?
Normally, my set is always about observations and my perspective on what happens around me, so whether it’s slangs people use, accents or even things couples say to each other. I do talk about pretty much everything and many a time have the audience giving the reaction “Omg, how can he say that?” but a few minutes later they do nod and say “But he’s right”.
Are there some topics you don’t touch at all?
I don’t touch religion and politics at all in general because I don’t get it and have always realized that the responses are always extreme. But after more than 10 years of doing stand-up comedy, I still discover every day about things I’m not allowed to say.
What is your process like? Do you write everything before you perform on stage or do you improvise on stage?
My act is more a dialogue than a monologue. I do a lot of audience interaction and I believe that has become my USP as people do enjoy that and also it’s exciting to create something which is on the spot. Having set that I always do write before a show and keep a basic skeleton of what I plan to do. One of the things I do always, as a challenge to myself, is to make sure I do at least two new jokes/one-liners on stage which I literally write it before the show based on what the scenario is in the room.
Have you faced any heckling?
I love hecklers, even the rude ones because it puts me in an uncomfortable situation and every comic secretly loves that because it gives them a chance to prove why he is on stage and the heckler is not. So far my motto has been to not OFFEND the heckler but BEFRIEND him.
Tell us some incidents which didn’t go as per your plan.
One of the incidents that didn’t go as planned was when I was performing in New York and was at an open mic in a basement which was dark and dingy and had around 15-20 people in the room. Being an Indian who grew up in the middle east, is normally what I start my set with and as soon as I started talking about being from the middle east, I see something flying towards me and I somehow manage to tilt my head a few degrees, missing what was a beer bottle thrown at me which smashed on the wall behind me. I went into shock and could not even raise my hand to confirm that the liquid which I felt on my ear was beer or blood. I just left and ran a few blocks as I was alone and once I felt safe I was happy to know that the liquid was beer and not blood. Never managed to go back to find out what actually happened but did receive an email from the organizer who apologized for the hate crime.
What and when was the moment you decided to get into stand-up comedy?
Being a shy and introvert teenager, I did find myself weirdly comfortable on stage and be able to say things clearly so I did know and realize somewhere that comedy was a calling and would find myself hosting events and always hoping for something to mess up so I can do a comedy bit to fill the gaps.
Are there days when you simply can’t come up with new jokes? If yes, how do you deal with that?
Days? There are weeks and months sometimes when nothing good pops up in your head, but the best way to deal with it is to get up on stage on, open mics and get rid of the bad jokes that pop up in your head. And honestly, many a times, the ones I thought were not even fit to go on stage at all, end up doing well, leaves everyone surprised. So the key is to get up on stage and try out whatever is in our head.
As a comic, what’s your biggest fear?
As comics, we live our fear of bombing on stage every day. You can have a great gig on Monday and then fail miserably on a corporate gig on Tuesday. But that’s part and parcel of the game.
What’s your advice to aspiring stand-up comics?
The only advice would be to always have a genuine urge to make people laugh. The audience is not sensitive and evolved enough to know the difference between intentions. Also get too big for the stage, the stage is like a gym and if you want a good ‘comedy’ physique then hit the open mics as much as you can.
We’ve got to know that you’ll be judging Artist Aloud’s Happy Club. What will that be like and are you excited to be a judge?
Artist Aloud’s Happy Club is a first of its kind digital talent hunt that covers 7 languages across the country. Being a judge of a huge project such as this is extremely exciting. I feel stand-up comics especially regional comedians need a platform to showcase and hone their skills. I am sure it will bring fantastic comic talent in the light and I am glad I could be a part of it.
How is the next year looking for you? What are your plans?
Lots planned and lots unplanned but I’m glad that 2018 has been quite a on the personal as well as the professional front. I’m glad to end the year by opening for Trevor Noah for the 3rd time in Abu Dhabi on Dec 21st and learn from the best. My transition into the world of films and web series is also something that will happen, so all in all 2019 is definitely going to be a busy year.