'Friendly, clean and stupid': In conversation with stand-up comedian Joteen Patro
His profile note says, his style of comedy is friendly, clean and stupid. And, his comic friends say that he is full of funny actions and expressions.
Tell us about your act for Chennai - do you have anything special lined up? What can the crowds here expect?
All the jokes are special. Some are really personal and some are dark thoughts that I get almost every day. I think the crowd must come prepared thinking, "There is nothing offensive about jokes, comics don't mean anything literally."
Are you familiar with crowds for stand-up comedy in the South? How different are they from the North, and elsewhere?
Yes, I have been doing comedy in Bengaluru. Chennai will be pretty much the same. Also, there is nothing different about the crowd in North and South - both are Indian, they laugh at silly, stupid and intelligent jokes equally. However, which lines to laugh at, differs from person to person.
What are your pet subjects and topics to speak of? Which aspects of your show get you the most applause?
This is a tricky one. Laughs are the most important. The audience applauds only when they agree with the comic. Most of the jokes I have, they won't agree, but they have to laugh. Yeah, I have to take care of that though.
How did you become a full-time stand-up comedian? At what point did you realise this was a full-time career for you?
I wanted to do stand-up comedy, but I never thought I will be a stand-up comic. The day I did my first open mic, I thought, 'This is it'. It went horrible, but I knew I want to do this. I started saving money from that day, so that I can quit my IT job and do this.
We're interested in different kinds of laughs - chuckles, giggles, belly laughs and so on. Do you often study how people laugh, as a comedian?
Yes, I observe that, and sometimes, I address it too. Some people laugh and some people chuckle at the same joke, and at that point, I feel like everyone in the room needs to know.
Tell us about your top stand-up comedians, the ones who inspire you - and who make you laugh out hard, even when you're alone.
Richard Pryor, Paula Poundstone, Louis CK, Norm Macdonald, Bill Burr, Nate Bargatze, Theo Von, Michelle Wolf, Chelsea Peretti... there are more.
Do you believe in keeping your stand-up act clean, in terms of language? Is foul, offensive language essential for comedy?
My act is clean in terms of language, but at points, I use certain terms are frowned upon. I only use them because it is needed. Offensive language is not essential, but it must be used when it is critical for the jokes. Audiences and comics must understand that.
How would you like to empower more women, and also regional language performers, as rising stars of stand-up comedy? Who would you like to recommend?
I don't think gender matters in comedy. If you are funny, you are going to make it. All the comics who think they should be given opportunities - that's not how it works.
If you can kill, you will make it to the bill. Regional language performers have been growing a lot and it's great - a better connection with audiences, and bigger market. I don't know anyone who is ready for a recommendation yet.
On a personal note, do you prefer making political jokes, or would you rather stay clear of making political statements - out of fear of a backlash, perhaps?
Ha ha! I do political jokes. Some people use names of politicians in jokes, and think it's a political joke.
You have to understand the in and out of the aspect you are trying to joke about. My political jokes are mostly silly, so if I get a backlash for that, it would be sillier and hilarious.
Lastly, with so many reasons around the world for people to be angry, or sad - what would you say is the larger role of comedy for a healthy, evolved and mature society?
Comedy is entertainment. A stand-up comic writes jokes like writers write movies - most of the things make sense in the context of the movie. You cannot stand on a news panel for making slums look bad in slumdog millionaire.
That's how slums look like, it's the truth. Some jokes are so deep and true, people don't want to agree with, but it's true. Good stand-up comedians try to make jokes on that truth, and make it acceptable to the audiences. That's all.