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Jul 31, 2017 at 11:13

Of all the qualities one appreciates in people, a funny bone will probably be right up the list. One of the most creative modes of entertaining people, and also one of the most evolving would be Stand up comedy. And to be so and appeal to even the younger audiences is almost rare today! Our student reporters had a chance to shoot some questions at one of the finest comic acts and changing the face of comedy in India, Kenneth Sebastian, popularly known as Kenny, and here is what transpired!

         Q) You are a singer, a writer, you have made short films, so out of all your talents, how did you choose comedy to pursue a career in?

From all the above fields, which I thoroughly enjoyed, Stand up comedy was the only thing that did not feel like work. It was super fun every time and I couldn’t imagine how exciting it would be if that was a full time job.

        Q) Were you always the funny bone of the class/friend circle?

I like to think so. Even though when I was young, I did not have a big circle of friends, my friends found me hilarious. Once I hit puberty (grew tall and lost baby fat), suddenly I was Mr. Popular in class. It just helped being funny. I got an immense sense of pride when I single handedly made people laugh. It was like a super power. I still feel a great sense of accomplishment when I make a connection with complete strangers and laugh together.

Q) We don’t hear much about how it is to establish yourself as a comedian. How has the comedy line treated you, how has this journey been?

The irony of that question is that there isn’t a clear path to establish yourself as a comedian. Just like with any mainstream performance art (Acting, Singing or Dance), there is no one way to make it. It is super difficult to trace every point in my career that caused it to get to this point. It is very clear though that you can’t make it in comedy if you don’t have the support of your peers. If it wasn’t for the comedians in Bangalore who set up platforms for young comics to perform, none of us would be here. It is a give and take relationship. When you start off, Comedians, who are already in the scene help you out and once you have established yourself, you help out younger comics.

My journey has been fantastic. I have met some amazing people and continue to do so. I feel it’s a community that treats you with love and respect if you are in it for the right reasons. If you are in comedy because you want to be famous, you can forget support.

     Q) What was the feeling like when you got your first proper applause and the first hit show?

There was no “first hit show”. I had a very slow and gradual climb. It is a myth that one show, one night or one event changes everything. It is a very slow and gradual process. I started off with performing for 5 people in an open mic cafe in Bengaluru, to 20 people to 50 to 100 and eventually, 8 thousand people a few days back in Pune at the NH7 weekender. Trust me, every time you write a new joke and get an applause, it feels just as good as your first time.

      Q) What has been the best experience of being an artist?

The love you get from the audience. I have been super blessed to have a very kind, warm and loving audience gravitate towards me. Now when I do shows, I get a applause when I step on stage. That seemed like a distant dream but now it’s a reality. I still can’t believe that happens. Also, I love the fact that when people spot me in public, they don’t feel shy to come up to me and talk. I guess through my videos, I give off a very friendly vibe and that is actually who I am.


Q) When you’re having a dull moment, what activity do you do to get your creative juices flowing?

Oh, the dull moment is always because I am working too much, not sleeping enough, not eating the right food and not working out. The moment I get my sleep, my chai, my exercise and peace, the creative juices automatically kick in. I love riding bikes but haven’t been able to do that as much since my schedule gets very hectic at times

     Q) You mention your parents quite a few times in your acts, how supportive are they of your                   career? Do they watch your shows?

My parents are super supportive of what I do and have always encouraged me to follow my passion. It is amazing how many people don’t have that and I am so glad that that was one less hurdle I had to overcome, when I was growing up figuring out what I wanted to do. My dad comes for every new show that I do. My mom finds my jokes pretty average and would prefer watching her evening tv shows over my live stand up show

     Q) How do you deal with hecklers? Do you think they in a way help the show?

Hecklers never help any show. It is super disrespectful to shout out random words in the middle of a show. The show is not about you, it’s about the 1000 people who paid their hard earned money, travelled to the venue, waited in line to watch a one hour comedy show that is being performed by an entertainer, who has practised it for months to deserve that stage time. In that moment, shouting something stupid and making it about you is incredibly selfish.

The moment I come across a heckler, if it is very clear that his/her intention is to disrupt the show, they are immediately escorted out of the show. The audience is more important than one disruptive person.

 Q) How do you manage to evade censorship? Do you curate content to suit your audiences from different age groups?                                                                

I am extremely aware of the audience I am performing to. my goal with comedy is very clear: it is meant for entertainment. So if a topic is making the audience uncomfortable I won’t touch it. A good performer knows which age group will respond to what kind of joke.

Q) Out of your comedy sets, which one is your favourite?

The One bucket bath guide. I think it’s my strongest writing.

Q) How do you have your chai? What makes chai time the best time?

I have my chai exactly how my mom makes it. ‘Chai time is the best time’ came from my mother. Whenever I used to come home, tired, my mom used to make her incredible chai and it used to instantly cheer me up. Now that I have moved to Mumbai, I get incredibly home sick. So, Chai time was a way for me to cope with missing my mom. It is my memory attached to my mom that makes it the best time. It just happens to be chai.

           Q) In your new segment, “Chai time with Kenny”, you talk about day-to-day issues and           create comedy out of those. How hard or easy is it to evade monotony in comedy?

Oh, I think it’s incredibly alarming if you get monotonous with your comedy. I mean the only way you can get monotonous is, if you treat stand up like a job. Stand up comedy is a medium that is endless, just like your imagination. It is obviously hard to keep writing new content (actually incredibly hard with the time limit we have) but there are no limits to it.

         Q) What would your advice to all those youngsters be, who want to enter the comedy line but are suppressed by the pressures of society or by their own apprehensions of failure?

Well if they have pressures from society and have apprehensions of failure, they already should stop thinking about doing stand up comedy as a full time job. There are a lot of wonderful jobs out there with quarter the stress and more financial stability. In comedy, the world is your judge, boss and critic. It is absolutely brutal emotionally, when you put yourself out there and get rejected on a daily basis. The irony is, if you love comedy so much, you would have already started doing it. If you are hesitating, you already failed.