A Celebration of Life: Daniel Fernandes on His New Show ‘Do You Know Who I Am?’ & Melbourne Comedy Festival Experience

By Shantanu Sanzgiri 30 May 2024 4 mins read

Daniel Fernandes talks about his new show 'Do You Know Who I Am?' and shares the highlights from his sixth time at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

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Comedian Daniel Fernandes recently returned from his run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) and is already set to hit the stage in Bengaluru on 1 and 2 June. Like Cage The Elephant once said—Ain’t no rest for the wicked. Fernandes will be performing his third special titled Do You Know Who I Am? at The Underground Comedy Club. The comedian has sold out two shows and has put up a third one for all the fans who were going to miss out on the action. And once he’s done there, Fernandes is jetting off to the Middle East for shows in Muscat, Bahrain, Dubai and Doha from June 6-10. Ahead of his tour, we hit him up to know more about his latest material, what were the highlights from MICF and how he stays on top of topical content.

What’s the show about?

The show is a celebration of life in a way that only I know how and hopefully by the end of it, so will you.

How long did you take to write this material?

I would say I started performing the full trial show this year. I did a preview tour just before leaving for Melbourne. I performed in Mumbai and Bengaluru. That’s the show I performed with Ashwyn [Singh]. It started from there. And then it really went through the grind during my run at MICF. And after those shows I was like, okay, now I can take the show on the road properly.

How many shows are you doing, across how many cities?

Currently I have shows planned in 11 cities including the Middle East (Muscat, Bahrain, Dubai, Doha). This is the first tour. Once that is done, then I will hit the road again. Hopefully that will have a mix of Indian and international dates or maybe just Indian dates. Let’s see how that develops. But yes, at some point, either this year or early next, I’m going to be doing the show in Europe as well. The plan is to take the show as far and wide as possible. So, yeah, this will be my life for the next maybe year-and-a-half.

Is this already leading up to a recorded special for a streaming platform?

At some point, yes, it will be recorded. Where it will be released I don’t know just yet. But yes, it’ll definitely make it online eventually.

Coming back to your MICF experience, what was it like this time around?

I was in Australia for a month and a half. I did a mix of solo shows and showcases across Melbourne, Sydney and the larger state of Victoria. Melbourne is home now for me. I think it was my sixth year now there. If it wasn’t that expensive, I’d probably move there. Australia on the whole is a nice place to perform because it’s one of the few places in the world where the audience also has a sense of humour. So, banter is a very common thing in their culture. They’re a very sharp audience, they pick up on the subtleties so well. If you’re a good writer, you’ll really enjoy performing in Australia. But again, it’s not easy peasy. You really have to work for your laughs over there. So, if you’re an Indian comic who’s used to the Indian energy, you’ll have to do a little bit of an adjustment when you go there. But once you win them over it’s an amazing thing.

Does the banter also help in doing better crowd work?

Actually, not really because when we’re doing festival runs you only have an hour.  So, there’s no room to kind of go off script or go off the material and start talking to the crowd. Because then you lose that much time for your own material. And they’re very, very strict about set time. So, I’ve actually not done much crowd work in Australia. Because there, you just want to take your material and hit it, you know? But maybe when you’re doing your own solo tour outside of the festival, maybe you want to do that.

Which were your favourite acts at MICF this year?

Ed Byrne. He had a brilliant show. Tom Walker was really good as well. So, at the Melbourne Festival, there’s a lot of alternative comedy. So, Tom Walker is one of my favourite alternative acts. They come from the clown school of comedy. A lot of these comedians, they go to clown school and they develop shows around clowning. But not in the way that we perceive clowning in India. It’s a mix of alternative to absurd. Literally anything can be funny with these guys. And they go all out with props, music, nudity. I also enjoyed Reuben Kaye’s show. These were my favourite acts this year.

You’ve also been on top of the reels game releasing topical jokes constantly. Do you think this social media presence helps in ticket sales?

Hundred percent. Ticket sales are directly proportional to social media following. It’s the number one way to sell tickets. It’s like the internet has taken control of every other middleman and just put it in your hands now. But you’re at the mercy of the algorithm. You have to hope that the algorithm God shines on you. But yeah, that’s the best way to sell tickets on Instagram. No other place.

What are the challenges you face during this process of dropping topical content constantly?

The biggest challenge with topical comedy is the turnaround time. You have to keep up with the news cycle. If you’re like a week or two late, people are talking about something else. It won’t travel that fast. You also don’t get too many chances to workshop the material. You have to write and hope it lands and fucking release it. Actually, when I started doing YouTube videos, that was what I was doing. I would take something that was in the news and record like a 10-15 minute video on it. That is what kind of gave me that first wave of popularity at the time. And now, I feel like I’m going back into that space. I am enjoying it. Anything that’s in the news, that’s red hot and worth poking fun at, or something that needs to be spoken about, I will write a joke about. But again, the downside is you don’t have the luxury of fine-tuning it. Because you want to ride the wave of the news cycle. You don’t want to be too late.

Get your tickets for Do You Know Who I Am? here.


Shantanu Sanzgiri


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