“Hello people, everybody knows standup comedy is getting really popular in India in the last few years. They are so amazing new comedians,” says a model from Venezuela before starting her reaction video.
The skyrocketing demand for standup comedy is evidenced by the bizarre popularity of derivative standup videos: reaction videos. These videos feature YouTube enthusiasts watching a standup clip, usually projected in a corner of the screen, and reacting to whatever’s going on in there. Some are bizarre, some get into heavy academic debate, others are just painful to sit all the way through—but the message is clear: we seem to have the world’s attention. From South America to Pakistan to Australia, people can’t seem to get enough of our favourite Indian stand-up comics.
Most recently, American YouTuber Jaby Koay, together with two of his friends, reviewed part one of Rahul Subramanian’s crowd work video. Since the video was uploaded on 20 February, it has racked up over 110K views. Here, we break down Koay’s reaction video, as well as 7 others that caught our attention:
8. Venezuelan model reacts to Kautuk Srivastava
One of the weirder videos on this list, this one features the reactions/discussion of standup comic Kautuk Srivastava’s bit on Indian porn by “Venezuelan model named Electra”. At one point, the woman pauses the video and segues into observations about Srivastava, whom she describes as an “expert with his five fingers” and “an expert with manual techniques.” At another point, she says “Moan is the best. It’s the way to say yeaaaah, I like it.” This is a more involved video than most, as the creator has no qualms about pausing the video and adding her own tags to the bit.
7. Americans react to Kenny Sebastian
California-based Jaby Koay loves and reviews Indian content all the time. Of course standup comedy is a part of that. In this video, Kenny Sebastian jokes about being scared to do bits about politics in India, while Koay and his two friends are absolutely convinced that Kenny Sebastian is high while performing. An interesting video to react to, as Koay and friends learn on camera about censorship threats in India.
6. Pakistanis react to Rahul Subramanian
In the original standup clip, Rahul Subramanian offers his view on how Indians and Pakistanis are taught history differently. Because of the topic that Subramanian covers in the video, the fact that these two reaction-ready YouTubers are from Pakistan adds to its weight.
In the second half of the video, the duo discusses the demonisation of Pakistanis in Indian entertainment, and encourages Indians to watch Pakistani television to realise how there’s a carefully crafted image of Pakistanis sold to them (unsurprisingly, far from what Pakistan is really like).
5. American YouTuber Jaby Koay reacts to Rahul Subramanian
“Damn, he’s got a good memory.”
“Yeah! He’s amazing!”
YouTuber Jaby Koay enlists two friends, Jackie Zender and Achara Kirk to watch (and react to) part one of Rahul Subramanian’s crowd work video. The feedback? The trio was smiling the whole time, Subramanian’s crowd work skills got a thumbs-up, and Koay loves his personality. “It was fun energy, it was good vibes,” Koay declares.
4. Pakistanis react to Karunesh Talwar
The couple reacting to Karunesh Talwar’s Masterchef seem to really enjoy it, though the occasional shuddh Hindi word throws them off (“sampatti?” they say confusedly to each other). Iman has never seen a standup clip before, whereas Moazzam has seen a few but never really gotten into it. Talwar’s clip, they declare, is so funny that “hasa hasa ke peth mein dard dalega” (he’ll leave you laughing so hard that your stomach will hurt).
3. Americans react to Kunal Rao
LA-based Daniel and Gian run a “long form podcast” series on their channel where they review Indian movies, trailers and standup videos. In this video, they react, review and discuss Kunal Rao’s bit on Indian Parents vs Indian Kids. Daniel and Gian also find similarities between America’s Valley Girls and India’s South Bombay/South Delhi girls, as commenters from Indian help them contextualise the video’s references.
2. Australian reacts to Varun Thakur
For his first Indian standup reaction video, Australian YouTuber Rocko chose Varun Thakur’s Condoms, Chemists and Contraceptives in India. It’s a great bit of observational comedy about how much faith Indians place in their pharmacists, and the reaction to it suggests that much of the material is relatable to viewers around the world.
1. Sourav Ghosh reacts to Sourav Ghosh
If there’s only one reaction video you should definitely not miss, it’s this one. Sourav Ghosh reacting to Sourav Ghosh. From struggling to pronounce his own name and abandoning his task midway to gorge on watermelon, Ghosh is way ahead of the game.