What inspires your comedic style and material?
I think one of the most impactful comedians for me was Jerry Seinfeld. I was in fifth standard and I remember coming back from school in Bangalore and watching ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway,’ on Star World. I couldn’t believe a Jewish man in New York in his 40s was as relatable to me as a kid. So I realised the power of simple observational jokes. That’s my style, which is observation with a hint of absurdity. I also love the improvised side of it, where stand-up is such a heavily written and practiced art form. But I also love to break it and do some stuff on the spot, which I do with my music and my comedy.

Comedy often reflects societal issues. Do you use your platform to address any specific social or cultural topics?
Yes, definitely. I think the irony is that a climate change activist or a social change activist has 100 followers, while anybody who’s entertaining, such as a comedian, dancer, or actor, has millions and millions of followers. So that’s the hypocrisy of human beings—they want everything in an entertaining package. I do slip in some social causes, but I feel it’s kind of patronising. It’s interesting that people’s expectation is for entertainers to raise awareness because there are so many social activists who should be heard.

Can you share a memorable moment from one of your stand-up shows?
So last year, we boarded on a world tour, performing about 120 shows in 65 cities across the globe—an incredible experience. Three moments stand out as the most memorable. Firstly, performing at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC, where we sold out shows. Secondly, performing in Times Square in New York at the Palladium, where lines stretched across blocks for my show—an incredible sight and finally, my biggest show at the San Jose Civic, where 3,000 people gathered to enjoy comedy together—a surreal moment. Every time I step onto the stage for a stand-up show, I pinch myself in disbelief. And now, I’m traveling across the world to places like New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, the UK, Iceland, America, Canada, Australia, and many more—it’s truly incredible.

As a comedian, how do you handle difficult audiences or hecklers?
I think people really forget that it takes so long to get good at comedy. I’ve been doing this for 14 years, and in that time, I’ve encountered every scenario imaginable. You really need a thick skin to survive in this industry. If you’re not funny, you’re not going to do well—you won’t survive. So, it’s a highly objective art form. Nobody likes a heckler; whenever a heckler interrupts, everyone is immediately annoyed. Many people pay a lot of money for these shows, so it disrupts the experience for everyone. However, the audience is never difficult. In fact, the best part of the Indian comedy scene is the audience—they are incredibly supportive.

Do you have any pre-show rituals or superstitions?
I actually actively try to avoid rituals. The only routine I have is that I usually have a Chai before the show, and I take a nap. That kind of sets me up for the performance.

What advice would you give to aspiring comedians trying to break into the industry?
I think this quote is from Sam Morris, an upcoming comic from America, and he said, “I also agree with that. Ideally, you shouldn’t break out too soon because stand-up takes a lot of time to get good. Hopefully, after you’ve gotten good is when you get your break and your opportunities. Because if you’re not good, then you kind of lose all of that opportunity. But those years were very valuable because I was still getting good at comedy. So I think five or six years into doing stand-up every day is when I went viral. I’m very glad because by then, I had really honed my skill and could deliver on the opportunities I was receiving. So take your time, don’t be in a hurry to break out.

Comedy has evolved significantly over the years. How do you see the future of comedy unfolding?
I believe the most exciting aspect of comedy in India is the burgeoning regional markets. Previously dominated by English and then Hindi comedians, there’s a unique charm in experiencing comedy in regional languages. The joy of hearing jokes in one’s mother tongue is unparalleled, and I see it as the future of comedy. The comedy scene in India is currently at its peak, and it’s only going to get better. Laughter is universal, unlike other trends or professions, and its appeal remains timeless. Hopefully, comedians are granted the freedom to express themselves without facing persecution for their jokes.

What upcoming projects or performances can your fans look forward to?
I’m currently touring with my special, “Professor of Tomfoolery,” which had a successful world tour. Additionally, I’m working on another show, a musical performance, which I haven’t officially announced yet. Audiences who enjoy my music comedy can anticipate a full show dedicated solely to music. Furthermore, there will be plenty of new videos on my YouTube channel and episodes on my podcast to look forward to.

What is your opinion on the evolution of comedy in Indian cinema?
Indian cinema used to relegate comedy to the role of a sidekick or a funny character, but stand-up comedy has reshaped that perception. It’s more than just funny faces; it’s about what comedians are saying. We’ve seen some excellent situation comedies, with my favourite writer and director being Priyadarshan. However, being funny is tough because humour is subjective. Unfortunately, if one person finds a joke funny, another might not. Stand-up comedy is solely in one person’s control, while situation comedy involves actors, set pieces, multiple scenes, and finales. Nevertheless, I believe we’re making progress in this regard. Indian movies often face scrutiny and criticism, making it risky to incorporate jokes. Humour inherently involves taking chances by pushing boundaries to elicit laughter, and sometimes, this can backfire. Despite the risks, I believe we’re on a good path towards incorporating comedy more effectively in Indian cinema

What’s your favourite joke to tell?
Anything involving my parents.

Cats or dogs?
Dogs, any day.

Coffee or tea?

Beach vacation or mountain retreat?

Comedy movie or stand-up comedy?