Krishna Subramanian is a zealous working professional by the day, and a stand-up comedian by the evening. The 28-year old is more often than not mistaken for a black dude, not that he minds but he secretly wants to be fairer. His jokes, however, are 50 shades of dark. He is an up and coming, extremely warm comic who sees everything in black and white. Humour Sapiens got into a tête-à-tête with Krishna Subramanian. Know more about this talented comic here.
1. How did you develop interest in stand-up comedy? What was your first stage experience like?
Ah, well. I was in college, we always used to do things like mad ads and skits partly. They all seemed fun and safe. It never occurred to me that as a person I could go upon stage and say “This is what I think”, except when we all saw Russell Peters, when we were like 18 years old.
Fast forward to 24, that is four years ago , I saw the explosion of stand-up in India. By then, my engineering job had already left me brain dead and heartless. The stage just seemed like a place where I could vent my frustrations. It was catharsis. Helped. After the first few times on stage , money or no money, I was hooked. Watched every video I could find from Dave Chappelle to Bill Burr, who in my opinion are the best in the world. Even though I didn’t quit my day job, I kept on doing it for the next three years without any plans of stopping anytime soon 🙂 I started it out of frustration and ended up liking it.
The first few times on the stage were quite bittersweet. My very first time on stage was in front of a couple of retired army personnel, just chilling and here I was going on and on about ISIS and how Malayalis shouldn’t join them because their accents aren’t good for terrorism. It got laughs and a middle aged woman came up to me after the show only to tell me, “Hmm, You have great confidence.” And she walked away. It was brutal and re-assuring at the same time. Well that was enough for me to keep me going next three years. I’m blunt, I know. The next few times, it got easier as I was learning how to actually construct jokes.
2. How has the journey been so far? Were there any challenges that you had to face?
The journey was been wonderful, never regretted my time on stage, be it in an open mic in front of one person on a rainy weekday or performing in front of five hundred people as part of a festival. My day job kept pulling me away and I wasn’t in a position to leave and pursue stand-up full time. This is something I regret. I had to leave comedy for a year in between to take care of things at home and at work.
But doing stand-up and travelling and telling jokes for a living is the ultimate dream. Nothing more satisfying than that for me, and I am slowly, organically getting there. Coming back and starting from scratch again was challenging, stand up is like a muscle, if you are not on stage for at least 3-4 times a week, you will become rusty, you won’t hit all the punches. Although the stand up landscape changed when I came back, there are so many aspiring comedians in the city now, so many open mics, which is fantastic although now the competition is very high. Comics push each other now. Which is kind of a good thing. Some survive the grind, many don’t.
3. Your key achievements?
Well, I have been playing colleges around the city. Traveled around South India to Pondicherry, Coimbatore, Wayanad, Kochi just to showcase my material to see if it works everywhere and to know if it is universally relatable. Went to Sri Lanka to perform, where I got called which ended up being more fun than I thought. I do corporate shows around the city too for companies like Bosch, Cognizant. I get calls from many start ups, they have more relaxed rules than big corporates which I prefer more. Planning on releasing a video soon, when I think its ready within in the next two months.
4. Any experience with annoying audience member?
Weirdly, I was known around the circuit as the “dark black” guy. Sadly. It wasn’t due to my complexion. Well, mostly it was. Sometimes my perspective goes, a little on the other side. I don’t feel bad about anything I say on stage. Approval and disapproval both work for me. I have always believed that 50 percent disapproval means the joke is great and on the fence, as long all the facts are right. But there have been times when people got offended when I least expected it. The weirdest would be when I got anonymous messages to stop doing “Anti-government” jokes through SMS, well I did use the “M” word. (Mitrooon). It was funny though, it was all threatening but without grammar. Nowadays, we have to dissent without using actual names, not that I do a lot Modi jokes, but at times it is inevitable that you have to dissent. Sometimes Dissent is art. Example: Kunal Kamra.
And there was once this visibly christian person (Collared T shirt, tucked into his jeans with a very visible rosary) walked off the venue, because I said “Tsunami’s are like Mass Baptism”. Ooops. So that has happened. I think I kind of justified the name given to me.
5. Any bombing moment you’d like to share?
Ah, Bombing stories, Hmm, I guess every comic can share a weekly bombing story from the first year of their career. At least. I remember the most brutal one for me was when I was doing a open mic, and there was a entire joint family of orthodox Christians, with kids, grand kids, adopted kids, second uncle twice removed. You know the usual. They were close to easily 30 people, filled up the room, and I was closing the show. Just saw the other comics bomb so badly, because nothing worked and I was trying to re-write all my material within an span of 30 minutes. Ended up singing happy birthday to one of their kids. The biggest applause we got was when we walked off stage. It was brutal.
At this point I should clarify, I have nothing against Christians. Ssshh.
I love everybody, so everyone will get made fun of.