Mayandi Karunanithi, the Superman of comedy
Stand-up comedian Mayandi Karunanithi has a rare sense of humour, one that can make you laugh even at the simplest of things. Read on to know what we are talking about…
After speaking to stand-up comedian Mayandi Karunanithi over a call, we sent a few more questions to him because, well, you can never have enough of him! He responded saying, “The questions are tougher than my 12th grade main exam!” We, of course, couldn’t help but laugh, because as you can see, with him, every line he speaks is filled with humour. And so is his sketch on parenting titled SuperMayan Parent Edition, which he is bringing to Chennai this weekend.
An IT guy by the day and stand-up comedian on weekends, Mayan does not spare the IT sector when cracking jokes. (Read where he talks about login and logout timings for house helpers!). This Chennai born, but based in Bangalore comedian wants to switch to doing comedy full-time, but not before he has made enough money. He is practical because he believes stand-up comedy is still evolving and unlike many of his contemporaries, he decided to stick to his IT job while simultaneously pursuing his love and passion for comedy.
Excerpts from our non-stop laugh riot of a conversation:
Why is your show titled SuperMayan Parent Edition?
For Father’s Day, my daughter was given an arts and craft project at school — with a Superman cutout and ‘My dad is a super hero’ written across. I got the idea from there and used SuperMayan as the title, and then included comic elements on parenting.
It starts with the process of hiring a domestic help and how this process has changed over the years; and how important a house help is for every family, especially for working couples. It also talks about the importance of a cook, a babysitter and their important roles in every household. Then I move on to the school selection process for my kid — how every father thinks and how every mother thinks. The daily struggles as a father — from feeding the kids and getting them ready for school, to the bonding between father and daughter, how fathers think they are smart and how it backfires.
SuperMayan is a family entertainer. If you’re a parent of a toddler, you can relate more to this. And if you’re newly married, well, you will relate with this soon enough.
Going by your sketches, are Bangalore Tamilians different from Chennai Tamilians?
Bangalore Tamilians and Chennai Tamilians both belong to the Tamil community, but there can be some cultural and linguistic differences between them due to their exposure to different influences. When I came to Bangalore, I stayed in an area called Lingarajapuram. A majority of people who live in this area are Tamilians. My roommate speaks Tamil which has slight variations in accent, dialect, and vocabulary usage due to regional influences. He adds ngo as the end word to every sentence. For example, I say, Enna Sonnanga (What did they say?), but he says it as Inna Chonnango. I found this accent unique and immediately fell in love with it. This is what made me do a sketch about Bangalore Tamilians. This stand-up routine of mine about ‘Bangalore Tamil’ slang was well received by most of the Bangalore Tamilians. They felt proud and I felt happy about it.
How do you compare the two cities — Bangalore and Chennai?
In Bangalore, everything is sweet including Sambar. In Chennai, everything is hot including Cold Coffee (laughs). I travel to Chennai frequently for my stand-up comedy shows. What I have noticed is the cost of living is significantly lower in Chennai compared to Bangalore. The cab expenses for a distance of 15 km would be well within Rs 250 in Chennai; whereas the same would cost a minimum of Rs 400 in Bangalore. At the same time, nothing can beat the weather, nightlife and IT job opportunities in Bangalore. Both cities have their own charm and offer something different to their residents.
What do you get in Bangalore that you don’t get in Chennai and vice versa?
Rajinikanth, Marina Beach, CSK fever, an earful of swear words from auto drivers are what I get in Chennai which I don’t get in Bangalore! Effortless IT job switch, a fat pay package and infinite hours of waiting in Silkboard Traffic are what I get in Bangalore. In fact, there is a rumour doing the rounds that lots of startup ideas were born while waiting in traffic jams. But no matter what, I love both Chennai and Bangalore because they are the best audiences for my comedy shows.
As an IT guy, can you throw some light on the exciting lives of IT professionals?
IT professionals lead a normal life every day. We get excited only on salary day. That excitement lasts only for few hours. Our excitement gradually drops ‘one debit transaction’ at a time. The only other time you can see any excitement in an IT professional’s life is when we get a hike or an onsite opportunity or free gifts such as coffee mug, backpack, steel water bottle, etc.
Do you also incorporate a lot of IT jokes in your comedy?
Oh yes! In my show on parenting, I talk about log-in and log-out timings for my maid, as well as three months’ notice period. I link all IT terms, because I have more than a decade of experience in it!
How has your family responded to your comedy? Are they your fans?
No stand-up comedian will have their family members as their fans. They would always find our jokes ‘not funny’. With me, if my wife does not find my jokes funny, the same jokes are sure to get a thunderous applause. But if she finds them funny, then I know it needs more work. My daughter is six years old. She understands my comedy, and laughs at everything. That gives me a lot of
You perform in Tamil; is that a conscious decision?
I started off by performing in English. I still do a lot of corporate shows in English. However, with regional comedy picking up, I wanted a space where I can be completely myself in my own native language. That’s why I started doing comedy in Tamil.
When do you get the time to write considering you have a demanding job?
If I allocate a specific time for writing, I will have a writer's block. I am the kind who picks up comic elements from anything anywhere. If I find a funny potential in things I see or hear, I write things down, or record my voice. Then I have a chat with my friend who I call my comic buddy (we met at Comicstan), and discuss if it’s stage material. That's how I build my jokes.
You do want to later switch to comedy full-time, right? What does your family feel about this?
There have been hesitations of course. We cannot quickly take a decision and go for it because a person has a lot of commitments. The year 2020 was going good for me. I was getting corporate shows where I make most of my money, but later with the lockdown, reality hit. There were no shows. So, I do need to have ample savings to pursue my dream. That’s my family’s opinion too. They are open for me take standup comedy full-time, but only when the time is right.
Also read: Jest for launghs
What does the future of our world look like after Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
I keep hearing everyone talk about AI. As far as I know, AI has the potential to automate many repetitive and routine tasks which reduces the involvement of humans to get the job done. It is a warning to humans to learn more on a daily basis, stay highly creative so your brain capacity is much stronger than AI which may take over your job. Now we have no other choice but to showcase our natural intelligence to stay ahead of the Artificial Intelligence game. If you find this answer convincing, then I am happy. If not, it is not my problem because you have asked an ‘out of syllabus’ question to a comedian, which I have just attempted, to get a grace mark for answering it.
Rs 399 onwards.
July 9. 3 pm.
Medai – The Stage, Alwarpet.