Apart from being a consummate host and talented comedian, Abish Mathew is also a bit of a comedy nerd. This is evident from his YouTube series Journey of a Joke, in each episode of which he talks to one comedian about how they crafted and developed a particularly famous bit till it appeared perfect, polished and natural. It’s the perfect show for diehard comedy fans to get a glimpse into just how much work comedians put in to get the smallest of laughs. Here are 5 things we learnt about comedy in India from the show.
1. Competition is intense but comedians are also hugely supportive of each other
This is particularly evident from the episode with Karunesh Talwar, where he tells Mathew that one of his jokes in his “Masterchef” video was completed with fellow comic Sumit Anand’s help. Another snappy line, “banda pack ho gaya”, implying that the celebrity chef’s mind was blown, is an expression from Kunal Kamra, that Talwar adopted into the bit.
2. Humour can help comedians cope with tragedies
From the episode with Neville Shah, we learnt that after the death of his mother, the comedian literally grieved on stage through his comedy. With no clear mental map of what tags he would use, whether he would deploy callbacks and such, he went on stage and spoke about the kind of condolence calls he got. This turned into his now famous bit, 5 Types Of Condolence Calls, which they discuss.
3. Making videos doesn’t have to be complicated
In the José Covaco episode, the comedian tells Mathew that he makes his quick and hilarious videos for social media without much manpower or expensive equipment (he edits his own videos on Sony Vegas, and sometimes even on his phone, for which he recommends the app Power Director).
4. Some words are funnier than others
Gaurav Kapoor’s bits are often long anecdotes, but he talks to Mathew about how even the smallest changes in words can make a difference. He knows for sure, for instance, that words with hard consonants like ‘ddh’ in Hindi are funnier, and therefore that deddh or dhhai (one and a half, or two and a half) will get more laughs than ek or do (one or two). He also uses words like kohram (chaos), that gets people laughing simply because they’re not common in everyday use.
5. Comics can stop finding their jokes funny
Kanan Gill tells Mathew that once before a major tour, he had a bit of a crisis when he started asking himself why anything he was saying was funny. He also talks through how he got out of it: by zooming out and revisiting each bit to see what he enjoyed about it. He then began to improvise around his existing structure and by the end of his tour, had doubled the amount of material he had.