Even the most seasoned comedians find open mic challenging: Comedian Vipul Goyal
Ahead of the second season of The Viral Fever's Humorously Yours, a semi-biographical account of his own life, standup comedian and actor Vipul Goyal takes us through the journey of the show, from its inception to the second season. The comedian also shares how the show featuring Rasika Dugal changed his life, whose sets he used to envy and what youngsters must keep in mind while pursuing a career in stand-up comedy.
Q: Take us through the journey of humorously yours. Whose idea was it to do a semi-autobiographical account on your life?
VG: It was TVF’s idea, and Gulani (Amit Gulani) was heading the project. They wanted to make something where the protagonist travels to different cities. And, it was around 2015-2016 when the stand-up comedy was also gaining a lot of popularity in the pop-culture. So, they thought this might be an interesting take and since I was their in-house stand-up comic, I was approached. I started sharing my real-life experiences about the world of stand-up comedy and they started picking out parts that they found interesting from a cinematic point of view and the project began to take shape. Initially, I didn’t know for sure that I would play the protagonist. We had an audition and I was selected.
Q: When did you decide to go ahead with the 2nd installment? What will it cover?
VG: Again, it was the decision of TVF. Following which, all four writers - Anand Singh, Chandan, Deepak Mishra and I sat down to write the show and followed the same process. I started sharing more personal stories about how my life has changed after the first season as I am getting more shows, attention as well as fame and they decided what fits the show’s narrative. This season will also see a new character - my manager, which is also taken from my real life.
Q: The second installment of any popular web series/film goes through a lot of comparisons and critical analysis, as there are expectations attached to it. How did you live up to those expectations?
VG: We ensured that we are staying true to the characters - the ones that are being liked by the audience, and we will tell fresh stories with those characters. We also made sure that the characters are staying in their zones and nobody’s arc has changed radically. As a creator, you always try to be honest and put in the hard work.
Q: What’s the one subject that comes naturally to you when you are writing your sets? Whose sets do you envy the most in India?
VG: I don’t envy anyone’s sets apart from Raju Srivastava. I think he is a brilliant actor. He has been caricaturised but he can pull off a serious role equally well. He had a set where he had played a bride’s father and he had acted so well in it. For me, it is one of the most brilliant acting pieces. So, I used to envy him in college years. Now, I don’t envy anyone as such but I do learn from others. As for the subjects, I try to pick content from my daily experiences, incidents, etc. And, I have a team with whom I discuss these incidents. Every comedian has support like this where we bounce our ideas and experiences off each other, take opinions and try to develop a set around it.
Q: How did you censor yourself when it comes to politics - what to make jokes about and what subjects are sacrosanct?
VG: I stay away from controversial content. I have done sets on politics but they are not controversial. And, I usually focus more on day-to-day experiences when it comes to my content.
Q: When did you realise that you have made it? Tell us that very moment or time.
VG: I believe there are two ways to make it - a) when you realise you are good enough, and b) when you get fame and success. I realised that I am good enough somewhere in the year 2016. After being in the industry for a considerable amount of time, I was happy with my content and the audience’s reaction. I got a taste of success and fame after the release of Humorously Yours 1, which was at the end of 2006.
Q: Give some tips for the people who are trying to enter the Indian comedy scene.
VG: Keep going to open mics! Give yourself at least a year - you might bomb every day, nobody will laugh but you keep doing your work and leave ego and self-respect at home. People perform two-three times and get disheartened that no one laughed and they are not good enough. Even today, after being here for eight years, when we go to open mics, it's still the same - people don't laugh at new jokes. But, even if one out of 10 jokes works well, it's a successful open mic. Don’t be sad, refine your content and go back the next day. And, figure out what is the issue, be honest to yourself and introspect. If you keep doing your work constantly, you'll figure your personality out and you'll know what jokes work. It is about having patience and perseverance. The initial two years are usually tough but after that, you get comfortable on stage. So, if you feel that it is not happening, remember that even the most seasoned comedians face the same issues at open mics and they know that it is the part of the process. And, it is important to keep you grounded.