Doctor and a comic, Aditya Shridhar got into comedy quite early. He has performed across India in last three years and is famous for his observational humour which encases his work, relationships and everyday life. Humour Sapiens got into a Tête-à-Tête with Aditya Shridhar.
Read on to know more about the man!
1. How did you develop interest in stand-up comedy? What was your first stage experience like?
I grew up in a family where humour and education were of utmost importance. My father had a deep undying love for books of comedy genre. So, our house was always filled with PG Wodehouse, Douglas Adams, and tons of comics like Archie’s & MAD.
I remember, I was about 8 or 9 when I first saw Eddie Murphy in Delirious. It was quite a turning point. It changed everything my little mind knew about funny. At 16, I started writing for the audience-without-a-face aka the Internet, I wanted my jokes to make everyone laugh. And I figured, I can make them laugh with the right words conveying my thoughts.
This proved tough, also this was a time when the internet was not too keen on hearing funny or witty lines from a guy online with a ‘foreign sounding name’. That didn’t stop me though. I kept on posting quirky stuff anonymously to Sickipedia, 4chan, and any forums I could get into.
My first open mic was a little scary, I remember walking in and seeing some of the big names in my city and even some names who went on to be amongst the biggest names in Indian stand-up comedy. I had a decent go of it, however, I definitely knew I needed to get better. Once I got off-stage, I remember how supportive all the local comedians were.
Their initial support really drove me to want to perform better and get at par with them.
2. How has the journey been so far? Were there any challenges that you had to face?
The journey so far has been difficult in ways I did not envision, my mother was very resistant to the idea and she made her feelings very clear early on. My biggest obstacle was scheduling my time in medicine and in comedy. When I started, I was working and studying at the same time, so I learnt to schedule my day, weeks in advance.
The biggest problem I had in comedy at the start was finding my footing, it is a tough field to be in, especially in India, where the crowd is still not completely comfortable with English, and even less comfortable with a person being honest in public.
It is however, a very easy field to judge as a casual viewer, and so you have random people on the web talking crap and lashing out some poor artist.
So, the biggest struggle in the first few years for me was trying to visualise where I wanted to be in the coming years, and how to get there.
3. What was the reaction of your family when they got to know about your encounter with stand-up comedy?
Family in general was not in favour of it. A lot of them had only been exposed to stand-up in their regional language on TV and were not really the fans of it. I could not blame them, but at the same time, no matter how much I tried to explain my point, nobody wanted to listen. Everyone kept asking me to focus on medicine as it was a ‘serious’ career. Then one night in 2015, after I opened for Azeem Banatwalla, I knew that I was going to do this, no matter what.
4. Any take on regional comedy?
Regional comedy is simply a term we use to fraction comedy, it is simply comedy that is made more convenient for the crowd to consume and comes with its advantages and disadvantages. It will definitely get more people interested in watching more stand up, and that is invaluable. However, it will also need to be slightly low-brow and require prompting cues for the audience to make them understand. This means that while both the performer and the audience may be smarter than the material and/or the performance, the medium, in itself, will need to be toned down to gain wider appeal. The disadvantage will be that many of the comics who get into doing this will not be maturing their content or performance with time. They will find a niche where their stuff work and they will get comfortable in that spot. The onus is 90% on the performer to bring something new to the crowd for them enjoy. At the same time, it is also the responsibility of the audience to the tune of 10%, to either give constructive feedback or to look for better/varied comedy styles.
So, in short, it is good – but in the future, it is yet to be seen how good it can be.
5. Any experience with annoying audience member?
Yes, the most annoying audience member I have had was a young lady in an open mic I was performing at in JustBe Cafe, Bangalore. In between my set, she started complaining about how none of the comics were funny, and how we all sucked. I won’t lie, that night was bad, but her being blunt in my face about it did not quite help.
I calmly addressed it as long as I could, but every time I addressed and/or refuted her point, she would change her point. It went on for over 10 minutes and everyone in the room was visibly uncomfortable as can be.
After the show she came up to me and said “why did you argue? I was giving you feedback which I am allowed to do…” and I explained to her that an open mic is where comics TRY their material, it is not the place to fairly review their sets.
She giggled and replied saying “You should have ignored me, na? I am toh crazy only…”
I had never met such an insanely annoying or obnoxious person in my life.
6. Any bombing moment you’d like to share?
I was hosting a show for a private gig with 4 other comics. As a host, you are supposed to be likeable, and your job is simply to keep the room level and in good spirits.
But this night, I just could NOT do it… Every joke bombed harder than the last, and people were just not interested at all. Out of the entire line up, I think just 1 comic did well.
The rest struggled cause of my poor hosting upfront. I still count it as one of my biggest failures in comedy.
7. Who is your favourite comic?
My personal favourites are 1. Patrice O’Neal 2. Bill Burr 3. Dave Chappelle 4. Louis CK 5. Jerry Seinfeld/Chris Rock.