Comicstaan Tamil will reach people who weren't exposed to stand-up comedy: Praveen Kumar
Amazon Prime Video on Friday, released the Tamil spin-off of popular stand-up comedy competition, Comicstaan. The Tamil adaptation - Comictsaan Semma Comedy Pa- that released last Friday, comes after two successful editions in Hindi. Lasting eight episodes, the show that follows a similar format as its Hindi counterparts features popular stand up comics Praveen Kumar, Karthik Kumar and Rajmohan as judges, who will mentor the young comedians throughout the show as they find the next best Tamil stand-up comic.
We speak to Bengaluru-based comedian Praveen Kumar, one of the three judges, who tells us how the show will reach audiences who never followed stand-up comedy before, his takeaways from mentoring the young comics and more.
Excerpts from the interview:
How do you think viewers will respond to the Tamil edition of Comicstaan?
A standard comedy fan will definitely watch the show and will love it. But more than that, I think Comicstaan Tamil will open up the gate for Tamil stand-up comedy. I think it will help reach more people who are not exposed to stand-up comedy, at the same time encourage more people to get into this field. So, the purpose of the show is to create new fans and educate people about what stand-up comedy really is.
On the show, will there be a conscious approach to making the comedy more universal?
The essence of comedy is universal in nature because the idea is to make people laugh. The way in which one does that will depend on the person’s talent, knowledge and wit. Laughter is universal and so is comedy. Just the language and format is different, and that gives people choices to pick from.
According to you, how important is it to have mainstream shows such as this in regional languages as well?
I was an English comedian at first. I did about eight years of English comedy and then moved to Tamil comedy in the recent past. So basically, I have worked in both the languages and I feel more comfortable doing puns and jokes in Tamil because that is the language I think in. I usually think in Tamil and translate the joke in English and perform in English and it was getting a little difficult and challenging for me. But then I started performing it in Tamil and that became easier for me to write as well as to perform. I don't have to byheart the sentence and be aware and conscious that I should deliver grammatically correct sentences. That is not in the conscious anymore. I personally believe that Tamil is a really strong language that can be used for wordplay. Not just Tamil, if you are good in any language, you can have fun with it. I am quite good in Tamil so I can create the wordplay.
What are the things you were focusing on while training these young comedians?
I cannot create a particular style for any of the contestants of the show. That has to be done on their own. I can tell them how to handle the stage, but I cannot tell them what they should do there. We prepare them for their set. We tell them what an 'observation set' is and what a 'storytelling set' is, but they will have to come up with their own content and we'll give them feedback. We don't want to impose our style on them. They must have one of their own. All we can do is guide them in the correct direction.
With all the OTT platforms, people have access to comedians across the globe and their specials. Do you think the audience's taste for the jokes has evolved over the recent years?
Definitely, people are now more aware of stand-up comedy. And through comedy, people can say a lot of things, which becomes easy conversations. Cinema comedy is different from stand-up and each has an audience of its own. I wouldn’t say that audience’ taste for jokes has evolved, I would rather say that these days, the audience has a variety of choices in comedy to pick from.
What should a young comic keep in mind before venturing out into this field?
A comic needs to be true to himself/herself, that’s the one and the only thing that you need before venturing out into this field. They should also be aware of their surroundings because that’s where your sets come from. They are rooted in your environment, so you need to be alert.
What aspects of stand-up comedy will we get to see throughout this season of the show?
The audience will get the opportunity to explore various comedy genre throughout the show – sketch, improv, topical etc. The competitions get tougher for the contestants with each episode and audience will have the time of their life watching it. The viewers will get an even deeper understanding of what an observation set is, what an anecdotal set is or what a character sketch is. The ultimate goal of this show is to encourage people from different geographical locations and different backgrounds to start enjoying comedy.
What is your biggest takeaway after being mentors to these young comics in the show?
For me, there have been three big takeaways. First one is the spirit of competition. As comics, we stopped competing, and that spirit of competition is sometimes a good thing because it pushes you to the next level and that kind of pressure we got to see in those participants. Second thing is that when you teach somebody, you also learn a lot. I learned a lot during my two sessions of mentorship, about so many things that I didn't know existed. I learned along with them. The third will be my friendship with Rajmohan, I already knew the others in the show. I got to know him since we shared a caravan. Our Sunday afternoon Briyani sessions were very memorable so that was something nice because we became very good friends.
Watch Comicstaan Semma Comedy Pa on Amazon Prime Video