‘It’s a huge responsibility’
Comedian Balraj on getting a great response for Entertainment Ki Raat, living up to people’s expectations and not hurting audience’s sentiments as well
Balraj is being touted as the new face of comedy on television. After watching him on Entertainment Ki Raat, the audience is lapping up his humour. And it is also believed that he is filling the gap in the TV comedy scene after the exit of comedians like Kapil Sharma and Sunil Grover.
Balraj takes it as a compliment when being compared to Kapil but he says it’s a huge responsibility too. “When people don’t appreciate your work, it doesn’t matter what kind of work you do because no one cares. But when people start appreciating your work and make comparisons, you get tensed. So if you do a shoddy job, then people say, ‘The popularity happened by chance’,” says Balraj, when talking about his show’s success on Colors.
Post show, the comedian says that his life has changed a lot but positively. “When you struggle for many years and get appreciation only within the team and do not get your due, this comes as a huge compliment. I have been appreciated by the audience and I have to maintain that and not take the appreciation for granted,” he says.
But he also says that responsibility does not only mean living up to people’s expectations. It also means not hurting their sentiments with below-the-belt and crass jokes. “When we were planning the show, those involved in it found the title of the show very funny. We wanted a name Comedy with something. But our director was of the opinion that we should not give the perception that we will make them laugh but entertain them. We can entertain them either through games or jokes. We were told beforehand that we will not make the show look cheap so there is no below-the-belt kind of comedy,” adds Balraj. The comedian further says that the Indian audience is very smart and if they don’t like, it will not take them a second to discard a show or a person.
Balraj says that though he is happy with all the appreciation he is getting, he is not letting it go into his head. “It obviously feels good when you are compared with India’s most expensive stand-up comedian. But I get a reality check very quickly in life. People tell me, ‘You can be the next Kapil Sharma’, but the next moment when my gags don’t work and no one laughs, I get back to reality and start working very hard again. That man has made people laugh for five years, I have just started off.”
He says that most of his show’s content comes organically. “We do a lot of improvisations. In fact, I have the habit of taking up responsibilities. So, if we are discussing a scene or how we will do a particular gag, I tell the director, ‘Leave it on me, I will do’.” He adds that when guests come to the show, they first make them feel at ease and then shoot the episode. “That’s the reason why our guests speak the most on the show. Ours is not the kind of show where guests come, we do all the gag and they just laugh and clap and leave. There are a lot of interactions on our show,” he adds.
Season 1 of the show will be soon going off air and Balraj says that it was pre-decided that the show will have seasons. “We didn’t want to make a show which goes on for five years. Usually what happens, once a show starts working, the makers start giving the same kind of content and then it affects the quality. But in our format, we avoid repetition,” he adds.