Every Indian Stand-Up Special Of 2017, Ranked, Film Companion

Sure, stand-up comedy in India has been gaining ground for a few years now, but 2017 is likely to be remembered as the landmark year for the medium – 14 comedians got Amazon Prime specials, 2 comedians got Netflix specials and millions of Indian fans got access to (mostly) fresh material from their (debatable) favourite names in the Indian comedy circuit. Who knocked it out of the park and made their special the first step towards cementing their legacy, and who was flat and forgettable? Here’s our take.

16. Aditi Mittal’s Things They Wouldn’t Let Me Say

A few months ago, I imagined that Aditi’s Netflix show would be one of the best of this season – but not only is the show a damp squib, it’s also a repurposing of material that Aditi has been performing for the last 6 years – all things we’ve heard before, and not things we wanted to hear again.

Read the complete review here

15. Anuvab Pal’s Alive At 40

Anuvab Pal’s quick wit and impeccable enunciation are gifts that a lot of Indian comics would love to have – but his special leaves a lot to be desired. It’s unimaginative, delivered blandly and more often than not, thoroughly unfunny.

14. Aadar Malik’s Stand Up – The Musical

Props to Aadar for attempting musical comedy as part of his first stand-up special, but the resultant show is unbearably juvenile and puts a dampener on the skill it must have taken to execute the performance. Beyond the first 10 minutes, it’s just hard to watch Aadar putting himself (and us) through this debacle of a show.


13. Naveen Richard’s Don’t Make That Face

Going by the laughs that Naveen gets through the course of this special, maybe it’s just not my brand of comedy, but to my mind, Don’t Make That Face is unnecessarily loud and potentially good punchlines are let down by substandard fleshing out and gimmicky execution.

12. Neville Shah’s What Are You Laughing At?

An almost heart-warming beginning to this show is turned into bizarre and overtly loud comedy, and Neville Shah never seems to find his footing for too long through this Amazon Prime special. You might smile a little through this, but I didn’t find myself laughing more than 2-3 times.

11. Sorabh Pant’s My Dad Thinks He’s Funny

What’s intended to be a funny take on fatherhood never really picks up altitude, and isn’t helped by Sorabh trying to coax more laughs out of the audience by being loud – and coming from one of India’s first English stand-up comedians, this one is a disappointment.

10. Azeem Banatwalla’s Cometh The Hour

Azeem is great in EIC Outrage, and while he doesn’t seem to truly live up to that potential in his own special, it’s not a bad effort by any stretch of imagination. Even the massier segments of the show are peppered with smart punches, and while Azeem seems to struggle to find that balance through the special, it’s an easy-breezy 60 minutes of comedy.


9. Vir Das’s Abroad Understanding

Indian comedy’s first Netflix stand-up comedy special isn’t a masterpiece, but still has its moments – Vir Das’s delivery is as polished as they come and it’s even funnier when he’s bold enough to get crass – some jokes will definitely have you chuckling against your will.

Read the complete review here

8. Sapan Verma’s Obsessive Comedic Disorder

Sapan’s Amazon Prime special isn’t likely to leave your stomach hurting from laughing too much, but it’s clutter breaking and earnest. The material, particularly about anxiety and lesser-known mental disorders is fresh and (mostly) well-delivered, and while it may not be Sapan’s finest work, it’s good quality comedy that doesn’t fail to entertain.

7. East India Comedy’s EIC Outrage

I’m not sure if I like this special so much because I’m a news junkie, but props to EIC for taking a brave stab at the satirical news genre we’ve all learned to love thanks to Jon Stewart and John Oliver (among others). EIC Outrage isn’t a perfect show, but has a lot of highs with courageous punches that a lot of other comics would be scared of taking.

6. Varun Thakur’s Vicky This Side, Varun That Side

Vicky Malhotra is a Snapchat sensation, but creator Varun Thakur uses this special to remind his fans that he doesn’t need characters to show off his comedy chops – the two-segment show has enough of over-the-top Vicky Malhotra to tide fans over, but it’s really the original material that Varun brings to the table that makes this one so special.


5. Kenny Sebastian’s Don’t Be That Guy

In all honesty, I was slightly underwhelmed by Kenny’s special when I first watched it, but in hindsight, my expectations might have been a tad too high – Kenny Sebastian still delivers a punch-packed hour of comedy and remains one of India’s brightest young talents. This one gets better on the second viewing.

4. Aravind Sa’s Madrasi Da

In a day and age when a lot of comedians are trying to talk about topics that are relatable to millennials, Aravind Sa is not afraid to mix things up with a hyper-local special about growing up in Chennai’s Mylapore – and it pays off big time. It’s funny even without a lot of context, but having one of your Tamilian friends watch it with you and explain is an even more rewarding experience.

3. Kanan Gill’s Keep It Real

I’ll admit it, I was a bit harsh on this one when it came out (going as far as to call it forgettable), but months later, I have no qualms swallowing my pride – Kanan’s special is a delight and “There is a cow” is one of my favourite jokes of the season.

Read the complete review here

2. Zakir Khan’s Haq Se Single

Zakir has had an inspiring run to the top of the stand-up circuit in India, and his special is a refreshing reminder of why that is – relatable content with a heart-warming delivery makes this one a must-watch for anyone who’s ever been in a relationship.

Read the complete review here

1. Biswa Kalyan Rath’s Biswa Mast Aadmi

Biswa’s special is already on my list of top 5 comedy specials worldwide, and continues to make me laugh out loud, even after 6 viewings. It’s smart, it’s meta, it’s ridiculously effortless, but most importantly, it’s super-fresh content and unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Read the complete review here

Do you (more or less) agree with our list, or have a completely different order in your head? Leave a comment and let us know!

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