Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Colonizing Comedy - Interview with EIC

It had never happened before. Most of us were helpless that evening and half of us were crying with pain. No one but EIC members were responsible for it. They made us laugh so hard, some of us were barely able to breathe. The energy and enthusiasm of the crowd was at a level never seen before. 
Something crazy must be going on in their heads all the time, to come up with ideas to crack us up, that's what Shreyans and Medha had thought before they got to meet them and ask this in person.
Let's take a look at what they found out.


Medha: Why the name East India Comedy? And your Facebook page says, ‘The lords of East India are here to colonize your thoughts’. Why the colonial connection?
Sapan: There wasn’t much of logic in it, just a joke. We started it as a fun thing, the idea was to colonize the jokes, make everybody laugh across the country. We didn’t realize that we will actually be successful and we will have to stick to this thing forever.  Just like that, no logic. There’s no philosophy behind it.

Medha: What made you choose comedy?
Sapan: We don’t think any of us can give a proper answer to that. It just happened to us. It was all coincidence. When we did it for the first time, It turned out to be okay and we thought why don’t give it a try?  It takes at least 2-3 years to establish yourselves if you work for it and you are lucky. None of us were aware that comedy has scope for a career until we tried it.
Angad: First we did it for fun and there came a point where we realized that, okay, we are earning money too, and then everybody started taking it very seriously. It is the most fun job because you are making people laugh and you also get to travel a lot.
Azeem:  We don’t have to go to office Monday to Friday on sharp time and that makes our lives free.

Medha: Do you think you will move to different things if you find them more interesting?
Azeem: Yeah…we will. It doesn’t mean we will stop being comedians, but I guess there are progressions to everything. It depends on what your end goal in life is. And priorities also change with time. Three years ago, we were only doing live shows and after that we started realizing the potential of you tube and we started making videos as well. Now 30% of our time goes to stage shows and 70% of time goes into making videos. Tomorrow if we think making a movie is better, we might move on, but it doesn’t mean we are going to stop comedy completely. We also think that making videos are very much connected to stage shows because it brings more people to the show and enables you to reach out to more people.

Shreyans: How did your parents and family react to your sudden switch in professional career?
Angad: We know it is pretty unconventional to leave jobs to switch to comedy. Everyone said that whatever you do just don’t look back. Don’t sit back and think what would have happened and all. We don’t think what would have happened if we had chosen to go some other path. I kept telling my parents at each stage what was happening. Once they read my name in newspaper. So they also started to realize that we were doing quite well. It was not a sudden switch; we tried it in small scales and then decided to pursue a career in comedy. It was very chaotic in the beginning, but we really enjoyed it.  And we think whatever we had done before, was useful in this career too, the experiences we have had definitely helped in our career.

Medha: Most of the stand-up groups are based in Mumbai; everyone gets similar material for comedy, how do you get new ideas? Is there any pressure to stand out? And what are your views about more entertainment groups being centered in Mumbai?
Azeem: Everything is a new thing. Coming to Bhubaneswar was a new thing. Everyone has their own zone, everyone has their own thinking and that’s what makes everyone unique. It is not that everyone is doing the same thing. And I think more troops are from Mumbai because it is the entertainment hub. The evolution of comedy in Mumbai is far bigger than other cities like Bangalore. The industry is so big in Mumbai.

Shreyans: Can you share the weirdest thing you have done?
Azeem: We might have done a lot of random stuff together.
Sapan: So far, most ridiculous thing I’ve done is reporting the destination wedding (in Barcelona) of Mittals’ daughter.

Shreyans: From your website, I found out that you have done shows abroad. How do you find the crowd to be? Is it different from the Indian crowd?
Azeem: It varies. We have done shows in Singapore, Malaysia and I loved the crowd. It’s a great experience. The current writing style of comedians has become much more evolved. But in New York, we struggled a lot, American comedy scene is so evolved and New York is a tough ground, there is at least thirty comedy shows happening every night. The success of the show depends on the country and the audience. If you have to go abroad and perform for Indian audience, it is quite easy if you are famous. The real challenge is going abroad and performing for their people. But if you pull that off, it takes the confidence to a whole new level.

Shreyans: How do you deal with situations where people get offended during live shows?
Angad: If somebody gets offended on something, as long as the rest are enjoying it, it is not a matter of concern and we don’t give ears to the abuses. If everybody is getting offended, then there is something seriously wrong, if that’s the case, you admit it then and there and apologize on the stage that we have made a mistake.

Shreyans: We hear about the struggles of Bollywood stars, but nobody talks about the struggles of comedians
Sapan: Maybe because people don’t take comedians seriously. Coming to struggles of a comedian, making people laugh is the hardest thing. There might be situations where you keep speaking and speaking and no one is laughing, because what you are saying is only funny to yourself. It is a point where you have to realize that this is not funny and I have to do something else.
Azeem: It is not possible to know in advance which all jokes are people going to accept and which ones are going to be not laughed at. But after a while you can understand the nerve of the crowd and you monitor your material accordingly.

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