Karunesh Talwar, after a long time, is back with a wonderful, 52-minutes long show, Aalas Motaapa Ghabraahat, on Prime Video. In this special Karunesh talks about his relationship with his parents and girlfriend, his attempts at being more self-aware.
Karunesh’s usual style of delivering punches, his body language and expressions are so good that even if there is nothing funny in what he is saying, the way he says it makes you go ROFL.
Humour Sapiens got into a Tête-à-Tête with the rocking stand-up comic Karunesh Talwar. Get to know him with us.
How was your first stage experience?
10 years ago on 13 June 2011 was the first time I stepped on stage. To my surprise, people laughed at my set. I was stupefied because I was screaming, and people were laughing and wondering as to who’s this angry kid.
Over time, I gained confidence and tried the same jokes, but no one laughed. That’s when I realised, it was because of my nervous energy that people laughed back then.
But yes, first time on stage was a great experience. When I got off stage, I had so much adrenalin and so much energy. I remember, this show was in Bandra, I just got out started walking on the road for kilometres at a stretch. With an excitement of something unexpected happening!
You’ve also been a part of Weird Ass Comedy. How has the journey been?
I started with them in 2012, it’s Vir Das’s company. So, Vir, obviously, Rohan Joshi, Tanmay Bhat, Gursimran Khamba, Ashish Shakya and I were a part of it. Then they started at AIB, and I began collaborating with them.
Do you remember any of your bombing experiences?
Oh yes, I remember many. The most painful bombing experience was the one at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2018. And it is embarrassing to relive it that at this time. So basically what happened was, I was doing 28 shows in the festival, along with 4 other Asian comics. The first 15 shows went really well, we even got a five-star rating, and we all were really excited.
On the 16th day, I decided to perform some new material, which was a terrible decision because I had just written it. I get on stage, and man, you could hear the silence. I’m not sure how to describe it, but sannata sunayi de raha tha! I could see the tears of disappointment in the eyes of audience. One person even heckled me and I didn’t have an answer to that. I got off stage, after somehow managing to get a few laughs – and I get to know that there’s a reviewer in the audience. It was a bad bad day.
I woke up the next day, and things hadn’t gotten any better. As I opened the newspaper, it was a disaster. The whole Melbourne was duly informed that the man named Karunesh Talwar is no go for stand-up comedy. The review was titled – 4 out of 5 comics make the cut. Clearly, I was the fifth comedian who couldn’t please the audience.
But, let me tell you, something good came out of it!
Of course, I was having a row of bad days, but worked really hard on those new jokes and a lot of them made it to my future comedy sets, some of which I have done in India as well.
So, I worked overnight on those jokes and performed them the next day and managed to get a good response. Rest of the festival went very well because of that, and I bagged the opportunity to perform on Australian television too.
I was a real rollercoaster that one month – full of highlights and lowlights back to back.
When you got into comedy, the scene wasn’t developed so much. What challenges did you face back then?
I didn’t get into comedy to earn money. There was no expectation of doing this for a living. I just started doing it because I was very passionate about it – so I thought I am gonna do it, but eventually, I will have to get a job. That was my perspective on it.
I was never looking at it as a source of income, but today I feel very grateful that it’s my livelihood and I have not taken it for granted.
The challenges have not changed. My challenges are what they were when I started off. Things like – this line isn’t as funny, what should be the next line, people laughed at this joke but the other one didn’t get as many laughs, I should find another angle to this story, new material was looking good enough yesterday but crappy today – these don’t change. At any level, these challenges are always the same.
Have you struggled for spots in your early days?
When I started doing comedy, there were hardly 15-20 comics, so getting spots wasn’t that much of a problem. Guess I was lucky. If I had to enter stand-up now, it would have been a tough cookie. As long as you could make someone laugh, you used to get the spots. But now it’s a whole different scene, you have to sell tickets, get people, then make them laugh.
It was comparatively easier to get on stage back then because you were responsible for making people laugh, that’s it.
Experience with annoying audience member or a heckling experience?
There have been many. And there are some, which cannot be told on this platform 😉
So, there was this one girl – she was drunk and it was her birthday. She kept yelling ‘it’s my birthday’ again and again, and had bugged around four comics who performed before me which derailed their sets. I went on stage, she started again with her ‘it’s my birthday’ anthem. I said, “usually the maturity increases with age, but guess it’s the opposite with you”. Because I said, you are becoming dumber as you getting older – the audience that was equally annoyed with her laughed and applauded at this. It was then her birthday express came to a halt.
Tell us something about your new special ‘Aalas Motaapa Ghabraahat’. We saw the trailer and loved it, especially the bit where you nudge us to confront our parents.
*laughs* Kar dena chahiye confront, definitely!
It’s important to set boundaries with the parents too, show them the real you. The love won’t vanish, you won’t become a bad child if you have a healthy argument with your parents. 😅
This special is basically on two topics, one, on my relationship with my parents and second, on my relationship with my girlfriend.
Watching this didn’t bode well with both my parents and girlfriend.
I have taken many pot shots at my parents and then I went into a self-depreciation mode.
Watch the Amazon Prime special here!