Build me up

Anjali Jhangiani
Friday, 24 May 2019

Chatting up comedian Papa CJ, who will be performing at Design Dekko — a gathering of architects and interior designers, about how he plans to build a better world through comedy

Comedian Papa CJ is all set to deliver a rib-tickling performance at the Design Dekko, a platform for architecture and design professionals to network, engage and collaborate with peers and consumers. While others at the event will be speaking about building better structures, Papa CJ will be charming audiences with his witty humour. “Design Dekko is an interesting platform celebrating spaces and minds that shape them. How I plan to shape the minds and spaces during my performance is something you’ll find out when you attend the show!” he says. 

Talking about the hottest topic for every conversation this week – the elections, and how comedians who joke about certain parties in their script or on social media get into a lot of trouble, he points out, “We’re comedians. People need to stop taking us so seriously. That includes us.”

While politicians do their thing, he believes in doing his job as a comedian which entails making his audiences laugh, wherever they may be. Having spent a lot of time abroad lately performing at various venues across the world, he says, “I love performing abroad, especially when I’m doing a new city or country. It requires me to know the pulse of people and find local references that would get an emotional response from the audience,” says Papa who just returned from South Africa. “I did shows in Johannesburg and Cape Town. While Cape Town gets a broader mix of audience with an international crowd in as well, Johannesburg is very local. Johannesburg audiences, from what I saw this time, are more African than they are white or ‘coloured’ as they’re called. Race plays a large part in comedy rooms in South Africa and you need to get a feel for how audiences feel about that in the specific club you’re performing at, on the night. The mix of the audience in the room also changes the energy of the room. I had a wonderful time at all my shows on this tour. The last time I was in Johannesburg, I performed at gun point and didn’t get paid, so it was a pleasant change to do a non-life threatening show this time,” he shares. And here we thought a comedian’s job is just all fun and jokes. 

India is presently experiencing a boom in the comedy scene with so many new artists introducing themselves to audiences through open mics or videos on social media everyday. Says Papa, “The beauty about comedy is that there isn’t a fixed path and it can take any direction. That gives individuals the ability to follow a path that they enjoy and shape the scene as they go along. My only hope for the scene is that artists continue to put some focus on live work. It’s a great kick to get millions of views on a video, however for me, the real magic lies in a live performance on stage in front of a paying audience.”

Speaking of getting paid for your work, the comedian also accepts hugs and good wishes as payment under the Happiness Project. Under this initiative, he does fund raising shows across the country for charitable causes. “In 2017, I did free shows across the country and raised over Rs 40 lakh for 10 different charities. In 2018, I went to the homes and hospital rooms of long suffering patients to bring cheer to them. This year, my hope is to create something that has a long term sustainable impact on the lives of the less fortunate. However, I’m not keen to reveal what I have in mind just yet. I’d like to get some of the ground work done before I talk about it,” he says. 

The funnyman is out on a mission to build a better world, one performance at a time. “Laughter unites people and allows us to look at the world through the lens of humour. What better way to build both a better nation and a better world,” he says. 

Papa is currently working on finishing his book based on his show Naked. “I can get the book in the market by early next year,” he says, adding that he is a huge fan of cricket and since the World Cup is starting, he’s going to be occupied with it. “While the emotional attachment has diminished since Sachin retired, I’m a staunch supporter of the Indian team and will be watching every match,” he ends.

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