One of the up-and-coming stand-up comedians often seen in the open mic scene in Bengaluru, Ritesh Kumar Banerjee officially stepped into the world of funny apes when he opted for engineering. Humour Sapiens got into a Tête-à-Tête with Ritesh Kumar Banerjee.
Read on to know how it all began for the 27-year old, and how he is working hard to make a mark for himself.
How did the journey to stand-up comedy begin?
It all started back in school in the 6th grade. I still remember reading jokes from a small joke book I had, on a daily basis, and sharing those with my friends during breaks. The laughter I got was contagious and it made me happy. Though those weren’t the jokes written by me, but I still managed to get laughs through my delivery. It went on for quite some time, after which it started fading away.
Never at any point in time, I had thought of it to be a career option for me. A suitable career for a middle-class home-oriented guy was either becoming a doctor or engineer. Time went by, I focused on my engineering and secured myself with a decent job. I was satisfied and my parents, happy.
This went on, until I came across stand-up videos on the internet in the early 2017, and memories of me narrating jokes to my friends started coming back. Now I was wanting to do the same, make people smile and be happy and earn with time.
How did you bring yourself back into the spotlight?
Managing time out of office, I started attending live shows first. Rahul Subramanian and Neville Shah were my first live acts. From thereon, it became an addiction and I started frequenting to live acts. Finally, in July 2017, I was determined to start out, and began by visiting open mics to test the waters and get a fair idea of the stage.
Though I have loved the attention, but have avoided the stage all my life. However, this was not the time to dwell over stage fear, it was time to own the stage. The stage was my only destination and I had to perform for the people, all alone in the spotlight. The thought of going on stage took 2 months, but I was certain of doing it, and getting over the fear.
Your first on-stage experience?
September 2017 was the first time when I went on stage, with my own, self-written, set of jokes, and I bombed it. It was indeed a very bad start. Going up on stage in all confidence, but forgetting it all as soon as you hold the mic? Yeah, that’s what happened! I had forgotten everything, and as if that wasn’t enough, there was no mic to mouth coordination. I started shivering.
3 minutes on stage were enough to have shaken my confidence. I came back home, and had constant thoughts of not going back again, not facing the audience again!
How did you make up your mind to go back on-stage?
Though my confidence was shaken, it wasn’t broken. That determination with which I had decided to make comedy an important part of my like, was still there. And then I self-assuredly resolved that, this was something I was going to do for myself and my happiness.
October 2017, was when I officially started out with open mics.
How was returning to the stage like?
I met a lot of people, understood the process, spoke about it and that was it. I realized, the only way to learn and excel at this was hitting as many open mics as possible, and better the writing every time.
It has been a year now, and the journey is wonderful. I am enjoying every bit of it. I love the art of writing, the entire process of delivering it in front of people and putting in my best to make people laugh.
Having said that, not all times are good times, but it’s a part of the process. The best thing about this art form is “You are the only person responsible and the whole act is dependent on you. There is no one else to blame for.” We may win the applause sometimes, brickbats the other times, but isn’t it all that would make us better?
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