Vivek Muralidharan is picking up cues from queues in ‘Death by Laughter’

With an aim to travel to places to witness different religious festivals and make notes, the artiste brings fresh takes on things we ignore
Vivek Muralidharan
Vivek Muralidharan

Standup comic Vivek Muralidharan’s Death by Laughter may not literally kill you, but you will end up laughing so much that you would want to give your jaws some rest! “Honestly, I just needed a title. This is my flagship show where all the content that I create, I keep testing it out on the audience. So the show keeps producing a lot of YouTube videos.”

At his upcoming show, Vivek will be touching upon quite a few themes, he tells us, which include religion and spirituality, ‘mass movies’ and how he feels about the same; general observations on life, and an entire segment of crowd work. As we try to understand his genre of comedy and ask if it is observational, Vivek is quick to tell us, “Mine is a mix of everything. You can’t just put observation as a genre; that works only in Comicstaan (laughs). I have been reading up and travelling a lot. This year, my aim is to attend every festival in India, and in the place where the festival is most famous. I went to Madurai for Jallikattu; I went to Tiruvannamalai for Shivaratri Mayanakollai; I was supposed to go to Vrindavan for Holi. So, I’ve been watching every religious festival happen and how it happens.And what are the politics that are aligned along with that. For instance, the posters that you see will kind of tell you what’s going on! So, I’m building through that.”

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Sharing further about the observations he has been making about religion and spirituality, which is an intrinsic part of his show, as mentioned earlier, Vivek says, “When you’re in a crowd of people who are completely believing in whatever they’re doing, it does fascinate me a little bit. I end up asking individuals: ‘Hey, man, do you really think He’s there?’”

Having a keen eye to observe is one thing and turning the observation into jokes is another, we comment, to which Vivek says, “There are a whole lot of other things that you get to see at these festivals! There is a ‘free darshan’ and ‘paid darshan’ divide. Every time some celebrity goes to Tirupati or some other temple, they skip the queue! So, I have included jokes on that. I am talking about being in a ‘free darshan’ queue and how frustrating it can be. I basically say that you can take any problem in your life, enter that ‘free darshan’ queue, and by the time you reach God, you would have solved it yourself because you’re just standing and waiting there for like five to six hours! However, I am not attacking religion.”

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It was in 2012 that he found out something like standup comedy exists, all thanks to Russell Peters’ videos dropping on YouTube. “I was working in the corporate sector, and there used to be this group called Toastmasters; I joined them and through that I met another standup comedian who said ‘hey, you can come and can do this (comedy)’. This was in 2015. That was the beginning. Five years later, in 2020, I quit my job and started doing standup comedy full-time,” he says.

It’s been 10 years since Vivek took to the stage. “Life has been good, and I get to travel,” the artiste says and on that note, ends our call.

Tickets at Rs 499.

April 14, 6 pm.

At Fika, Adyar.


X: @rupsjain

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