Actor-comedian Badava Gopi reveals the secret to his long and successful career
The man, who is also known for his cricket commentary, says how talking big has become his brand
We've seen Badava Gopi perform on stage for two and a half decades now. The man who has many faces, including an actor and mimicry artist, will now pick up the microphone for his very first open-ticketed stand-up gig. He has named his show 'Big Mouth' and that is from where our conversation with him began.
"People have always said I talk big and for me, my mouth is my investment," he explains and adds, "That is the reason why the show was given the name." Although the upcoming event is a stand-up, Gopi will not simply get on stage, share a joke or an experience and wrap things up. Instead he wants to set a new bar for such shows. "The audience will get to experience all my talents, including mimicry, at the show," he says.
Gopi will be performing for 80 minutes straight and claims that since it has been 25 years since he picked up a microphone, he has the experience and confidence to deal with hecklers whom most comedians despise. "I've had people come to my shows just to heckle endlessly. Some have even brought with them a knife!," says the veteran comedian. "But, I think the audience who come to watch me perform this weekend will not be unruly. If I do not perform well, then they will get disappointed," he explains.
According to Badava Gopi, any stand-up show needs to be interactive and is happy that today's shows are structured. "I see something good happening and sustainability added to the mix. Previously, there were no online listings. Today, there are listings, a structure.... but, we should develop the infrastructure as well, for it is lacking," the man also known for his cricket commentary skills, states.
Change is in the air
Asked how the scene has changed now, when it comes to people recognising stand-up artistes, Gopi states, "A stand-up artist today has a social status which was not the case when I began. They have more fan following and are in touch with their fans owing to the presence of social media." He believes this will bring more people into the field, which would compound its growth and prevalence.
"At the same time, it is a rather stressful profession," he reminds us. "You can't use the same content twice. You have to either find a new audience, which is easy, or create new content, which is very difficult. These are the two options one has. As you gain fame, the stress associated with it increases. If you are capable, then it can be managed. It is the same stress Robin Williams faced, Jim Carrey faced and so did Eddie Murphy, because people are always expecting more," he claims.
So, what is that that people need to do to stay in this business for over two decades like Gopi? "You should be original. If you begin copying someone, it is not going to be sustainable. If you think you can go by books and perform, that is not going to work either. Standup is not about jokes, but about narration. Keeping the audience engaged is important. Never let go of your originality and keep the momentum going. You should be proud about what you do and perform with your head held high," says the actor.
To keep getting new ideas, Gopi says one should travel a lot and observe. "I think one should perform for six months and spend the next six months travelling, meeting new people, learning new cultures and eating different food. I travel a lot. I get on board trains and buses and watch people. I even take inspiration from people speaking at bars. Their conversations, I think, are brilliant!" he states.
Around the world
Gopi says he plans to tour Tamil Nadu with his show this year, while he is in the process of planning a world tour from 2024 onwards. In the meanwhile, he will perform in the USA and the UK, as part of his previous commitments. "People haven't entirely tapped into the needs of the Tamil diaspora across the globe and so, I want to do these shows for a long time," he ends.
INR 649. On June 18. 7.30 pm. At Medai in Alwarpet.