Kenny Sebastian, your friendly neighbourhood ‘paavam’ (pure) boy, is testing new waters. After his successful stand up special Don't Be That Guy on Amazon Prime, the guitar-playing comedian is now making an acting debut with Die Trying. A seven-episode series produced by the internet video on demand service traces the story of two aspiring musicians and their struggles at making it big in the music industry in Bangalore back in 2004. While Kenny is playing himself, actor Vidyuth Gargi plays the character of Rohan.
Kenny says that the idea for the show was inspired by his own career as a small time musician way before he decided take up stand-up comedy as a full-time career option.“My college classmate and I started a two-man acoustic band and we played at restaurants to an audience who just did not care.” He believes that thinking back about those times, put a lot of things into perspective for him.
He says that back then they were hurt that people did not recognise their talent. “But now it is pretty obvious that you’ve got to earn it and work really hard and long to get their appreciation,” he smirks.
Performing on stage and recording it for your special is one thing, but to act in a series is a completely different ball game. Playing himself might seem like an easy thing to do, but was it really so? “I was very lucky to have had a director, co-actors, and writers to help me through the scenes. I was very particular that at no point should the audience regret not seeing an actual (full-time professional) actor do the role,” he says, adding that he made sure that thorough actors were hired for the rest of the cast.
Since audiences are used to him doing stand up comedy, he wanted the transition of making a debut as an actor in a show as smooth as possible for them. His character in Die Trying, although autobiographical, is a no-nonsense, simple character. “But if a role which is super absurd and quirky comes along my path, I think I will be foolish if I do not take it up. However, right now I am more focused on directing and writing,” says Kenny.
Talking about the struggles a new-comer in the music industry faces, he says, “Music is so subjective. It totally depends on the scene and the genre that is dominating that period of time. In every creative field, being good is the bare minimum you can do. In the age of the internet and abundant choice, the only thing that matters is what you bring to the table, something more than just your music. That’s what worked for me with my stand up career.”
Spilling the beans about the secret ingredient that he adds to his recipe for humour, he says, “I make content I would watch. You have to be earnest and respect the audience. The moment I create things for the sake of it, I become hypocritical, and it also signifies disrespect towards the audience,” adding “I gained my audience slowly and over time because I was treating them like I want to be treated.”
When asked if he is living his dream after being a successful and a much-loved stand up comedian, he says, “I started living my dream way back in 2015 when all my shows were sold out and people were specifically coming to see me.”
Kenny is currently working on two more projects for Amazon Prime Video – Improvisers with Kanan Gill, Abish Mathew and Kaneez Surka, and Sketchy Behaviour, written and acted by Kanan and him.
Kenny will be in Pune to perform for LOLstars on Sunday, which also features Sonali Thakker.
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LOLStars will be held at Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hall, Camp, on February 25, 5.30pm