After almost a decade in comedy, Appurv Gupta knows exactly what doesn't work on stage
Gupta was here before the scene took off, and is still going strong. In town for a show, the comedian opens up about his creative process
We find Appurv Gupta sans any-pre show jitters, lounging at the Taj Bengal foyer; we obviously prod him about his set for the night, but the comedian who has been a part of the stand-up circuit for almost a decade, tells us that he has never been a neurotic over-preparer. “It’s my experience that the more you plan things, the more it all goes out of hand (laughs). Which is why I like to keep some things spontaneous and the element of being in-the-moment is important too,” he tells us.
Appurv, whose Guptaji sets earned him the accolade of the leading ‘Hinglish’ comic in the country, is a self-confessed George Carlin fan. “His comedy was way ahead of its time. Sometimes I would listen to him speak and I would think I wish we could talk about things like this here. But then again, I don’t feel we should rush anyone or anything. Everything grows at its own pace,” adds the Delhi-based comic.
Appurv’s comedy is remarkably undemanding, and when you hear the comedian talk about Maggi, or Tinder, or his in-flight trysts, you should know that there’s a reason he chooses to focus on the simpler side of life. “I like to keep things light and I want my viewers to have a good time, which is why I usually steer clear of subjects which are controversial or make people choose sides. I feel like it defeats the purpose of comedy,” Appurv remarks.
In the last few years, the comedian has written three solo shows, 'Appurview', 'RelationShip Or RelationShit' and 'Laugh with an Engineer 2.0', and has garnered over 10 million views on social media. Appurv pursued a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering, although he never really wanted to go the obvious mile by opting for a business degree or a profession in coding.
“I told my parents that I need two years… I wanted to see if I could make it in comedy. I remember my first set was almost an impromptu experience; I was told at 6:30 in the evening that there’s a stand-up show in an hour, can you perform? I went in, and I spoke about my exams. I remember a couple of anecdotes - I joked about how my IIT rank resembled a 10-digit phone number and how I could probably get a seat in the top 50 colleges of Faridabad!” he adds.
Appurv stepped into the Indian stand-up comedy scene around 2012 when there wasn’t much of a scene, to begin with; it’s one of the reasons why the comedian has a firm grasp on what people want to hear when they shell out money for stand-up acts. “I’ve noticed people usually back away when a comic starts talking about something like religion; most people do not want to hear it on a comedy night. People also get worked up when you bash a political stance, without slamming all the other sides (laughs),” Appurv reveals.