Beyond Stand-up: Amit Tandon develops scripts, podcast and his passion project on 1947 partition
Over the years, Amit Tandon has created an image of ‘the family man’ with his clean observational comedy that appeals to people across generations. His popularity earned him a standup special on Netflix, a milestone that he agrees opened multiple avenues. “Being on Netflix adds more credibility to you and your work. People start taking you more seriously and are open to hearing what more you have to offer,” shares Tandon who has made most of this credibility. The 42-year-old comedian had readied scripts for film and web-series, bagged a podcast and brought to reality his passion project on the partition of 1947. “None of these would see me in the regular avatar of a stand-up comedian,” he promises. To know more about his plans, we sat down with the comedian, virtually, for a chat. Excerpts from the interview:
Q: How did you get the title of The Married Guy?
When I started doing comedy, most comedians around me were in their early 20s. But, I was 35 years old, married and had two kids so naturally a lot of my jokes centred around my life as a married person. Soon I was being introduced as ‘the married guy of comedy’ in Delhi and somehow the title just got stuck.
Q: What made you switch your career altogether in your late 30s? What were the challenges?
I had an HR consultancy firm with 40 people working for me and it was doing fairly well. The comedy started as a hobby, which was to be done as and when time permits. But, when you get on a stage and make those hundreds of people present under the roof laugh, it appears like a superpower and I felt very good about it. And, when I realised that I could make money as well, I decided to switch my career but it took me a while to get my family on my side. So, for the first four to five years, I did double shifts — I would run my company during the day and do comedy in the evening or over the weekend. The aim was to take my comedy to a level where I could make just as much as I was making from my business so that I could justify leaving the business and taking comedy full time.
Q: What made you choose observational comedy?
Initially, I tried a bit of everything, from simple jokes to observational comedy. But soon I realised that if I would only make people laugh, I won’t last long because there is a lot of competition. Plus, a lot of jokes are being shared on WhatsApp every day. So, I shifted my focus towards creating a joke that you can take back home. I want you to think about it the next day and three or six months later, when a similar thing would happen, I want you to revisit my joke. I want you to be like, ‘OMG, this is exactly like how he said’. For that, jokes have to be more than funny. They have to be relatable. They have to have some story around them and that’s where observational comedy worked for me because people were like ‘this is how we behave when we go to a hotel’ or ‘this is what we do on Facebook’.
Q: What was your reaction to having a Netflix special?
It was fantastic! For someone, who at the age of 35 had no plans of getting into comedy, getting on to the biggest platform in comedy today within eight years is huge. I am done. I don’t have a bucket list anymore (laughs).
Q: What did this special do for you in your career?
Until now, I was putting everything on YouTube which meant I was earning my own fanbase. My subscribers were people who knew me and were familiar with my work. With Netflix, you get a platform of viewers across countries, a lot of whom didn’t know me but got to see my work. Secondly, when you are a Netflix artist, it opens more avenues for you on other platforms. People start taking you seriously and are open to hearing you out even when you take other forms of your creations to them.
Q: Tell us more about these creations.
I have written a story for a film, whose screenplay is under development right now. I am working on a couple of series — one is a satire which is also putting forth a message, another looks at the middle age crisis in a cosmopolitan city. And, while I can’t share more details, I can assure you that this year, you will see me across some OTT platforms with content that I have written and performed, and it is not stand-up alone.
Plus, there is a funny podcast. It is in the observational space but it is not just me, I am also bringing regular people to this podcast. We will be making an announcement soon.
Q: We heard there is a passion project revolving around the partition of 1947...
I come from a family that moved to India during the partition so I have heard a lot of stories but I feel that whenever we talk about it in the mainstream, we look at just one part of the partition. There is a lot more to explore there and I am working towards that… I have already spent four and a half years on it and while it is not all comedy, it is not in the same zone of the tragedy that we have seen so far. Hopefully, it will come out by late this year or next year.
Q: You are someone who also refrains from using cuss words? Was it a conscious decision?
Initially, I did use cuss words when I would perform at bars. But, once I started performing in bigger venues where people across all generations would be present, I realised that I find it difficult to use cuss words since I have my own kids and I live with my parents. I would end up leaving bits that had cuss words even though they would be really funny so then I started writing clean comedy only so that I am not stressed about the age group of the audience. Although it was started so that I am in my comfort zone, I later realised that it could be a great marketing strategy — people could watch me with anyone or forward my videos to anyone without thinking twice or issuing any disclaimer.