Humour round the planet

Anjali Jhangiani
Sunday, 20 January 2019

Stand-up comedian Aravind SA talks about lending his voice and his humour to Sony BBC Earth’s new show Round Planet

Facts and numbers can be educational, but in all honesty, they can also be boring. To tackle this problem, Sony BBC Earth has roped in Chennai-based stand-up comedian Aravind SA to lend his voice to their upcoming series Round Planet, scheduled to go on air on January 21, 9 pm.
“My first reaction when I was offered the show was that I was interested in the content. I like the idea of taking things and adding satire to it. This is a very nice opportunity for me to try out different types of humour within the constraints of the format of the show,” says Aravind, adding that the most challenging part of his profession is to be able to diversify from standing on the stage and performing jokes. 

The show has been dubbed in Tamil by the Madrasi Da. But he has made efforts to reach out to all kinds of audiences through it. “The most important aspect was to keep the language, simple and natural. The show will be on TV, you can imagine what the average Indian drawing room audience looks like. If you take that into account, the audience I will cater to through the show is completely different from that of my stand-up. So this has defined some parameters that will be applied throughout the show, like references from pop culture. Even in our day-to-day conversations, we often make references to pop culture, that’s just how we talk. I replicated that in the show to make it light and familiar. Beyond that, I will be sticking to analogies and myths that we all know,” says Aravind, who loves to watch such content, but admits that his consumption has been cut down off late.
“When I was growing up, say till college, I had an attention span of a reasonable level. I remember that I used to watch shows like this based on wildlife, nature, space etc. But over a period of time, I could not consume such content at the volume it was offered, hour-long documentaries and so on. My appetite to be able to consume that much data and information reduced drastically in the last 10 years or so,” says he, adding, “But when I got this opportunity to lend my voice to this show, I figured that the audience I will be reaching out to will probably be a lot like me — someone who likes such content, but wants it presented in a slightly different format, with more fun. That is where humour comes in, to help you break in and out of the seriousness of the show. You can take your audience on an emotional ride up and down as opposed to maintaining a constant serious theme throughout. You can widen your range,” he adds.

The comedian candidly says that he wouldn’t usually sit down for serious show even though it’s fascinating, but with a dash of humour in it to keep him entertained, there are more chances of him watching a show.
Diversification is inevitable
With more and more comedians taking up interesting projects and plying their skills in various avenues, Aravind believes that diversification of this sort in the stand-up comedy industry is inevitable.
“There are so many people out there to cater to, but very few comedians to do that. It’s not like in the US where there are thousands and thousands of comedians. In India, the comedy industry is rather small and just a few years old. So there are many requirements that will pop up and people will look towards comedy as a solution. I see more and more work coming our side and we need to take it up. Aspiring comedians will also have more work now,” says he.
Talking about the rapid growth of the regional comedy circuit down south, he says, “I can only speak for the Tamil comedy community because whenever I do shows in the cities in that state, I usually ask a local comedian to open for me. Definitely, the regional comedy scene is booming. They see what is happening in the rest of the country, in Mumbai and Delhi comedians are pulling crowds and putting up their shows on legit OTT platforms, all in Hindi. This makes regional comedians take strength from them and say ‘we can also play to our crowd in our language and be honest to wherever our art comes from,” says Aravind, referring to the likes of Zakir Khan, Biswa Kalyan Rath and so on who use a conversational-style mix of Hindi and English in their performances. 
While the comedian has about six-seven months of touring left for his show I Was Not Ready Da, he plans to start writing his third special soon. “You need about six months of writing to get the new show ready. I will be writing everyday, trying new stuff out on audiences here and there to see what sticks. After I shoot the next show and release it online, I will probably take a small break and then start touring for it,” says Aravind, who believes that he has become bolder with every new show. 

While his first special Madrasi Da wasn’t political at all, there were some references to politics in his second show I Was Not Ready Da. With 2019 being a big year for politics, will there be a jab or two in the special he’s working on next? “Ever since I became a full-time comedian, my world view has changed and my political awareness has grown. I have no strategies on these things though. When I sit down and write, I play with topics that have been incubating in my head for a while, and then take it from there. But if a political slant can be given, I won’t shy away from it. I have seen the value it brings to a show, I think it makes it more interesting when you show that side of yourself to your audiences instead of keeping your content single-layered all the time,” he ends. 

ST Reader Service
Round Planet in Tamil featuring Aravind SA will air on Sony BBC Earth on January 21, 9 pm


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