Six Leading Indian Comics Share Their Trade Secrets, Film Companion

Abish Mathew, Sumukhi Suresh, Kenny Sebastian, Tanmay Bhat, Biswa Kalyan Rath and Kaneez Surka have each spent years in the comedy scene doing everything from improv, sketches, stand-up to web series. In the upcoming Amazon Prime comedy talent show Comicstaan, we’ll see them judge and mentor upcoming comics. Here are some of their trade secrets.

Biswa Kalyan Rath

“I’ve observed that when you are doing smaller shows as an open-micer, that’s when you enjoy your comedy the most because you’re taking risks and you have no risk of failing. When you become bigger, every show you do comes with so much responsibility. You have gone to a college – their fest must be nice. You’ve gone to a corporate show – you must give them a good show. I think instead of aspiring to become popular and famous and rich, you must learn to enjoy the craft and you must understand that the endgame is less important than the journey itself.

Kenny Sebastian

“Come to the venue an hour early. It’s something about being the most comfortable person in the room that gives you an edge. A lot of comics come too late and the first ten minutes go into adjusting. But if you come into the room and everybody is like, ‘Why is this person so comfortable?’, then that’s a huge advantage.”

Tanmay Bhat

“Views don’t sell tickets or make you popular. Having a very strong voice makes you popular with whoever that audience is. Hit small but hit hard. Don’t try to hit big and hit wide. I think a lot of young comedians want to be popular with a lot of people very quickly but that’s not how you grow. You find a small audience who loves you and they will make you grow automatically.”


Sumukhi Suresh

“If something is uncomfortable, definitely try it. Because that’s obviously going to work out at some point. I wouldn’t have got on stage if I wasn’t very uncomfortable about it. If it’s not making sense or if it’s making you feel a little here and there, it’s worth a try. “

Abish Mathew

“I’m always nervous. I’m always loud and I’m always smiling because I’m always nervous. In the US, when we were doing a show in Atlanta, I was standing backstage and I was very nervous because it was a non-Indian crowd. For the first time it hit me, ‘Why are you doing this? You don’t need to do this.’ And then I went on stage and I was like, ‘Why am I going to get off stage? I want to stay here for half an hour more.’”

Kaneez Surka

“When you’re bombing, when you’re jokes are not working, just have fun. I know that’s a bit vague but I use that in my comedy. When things are not working and people are not enjoying what I’m doing on stage, I stop looking for the funny and look for the fun.”


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