For every comment on comedians’ YouTube pages that impatiently demands “Y U NO PUT NEW VIDEO?” there is an artist breaking into cold sweat about how the hell to do it. Because recording a video is an expensive exercise.
While there’s a lot of noise around “supporting the scene”, Mumbai comic Aakash Mehta seems to be amongst the handful doing something that’s actually helpful. In his ongoing showcase format Aakash Mehta & Friends, Mehta pays for the venue himself, and the bill for the production team recording and editing the comedy videos gets split between the artists on the lineup. Having multiple artists perform on the same night also helps pull in more of a crowd, and serves as a great networking opportunity as well.
“The idea is to make it cheap [for comics] to shoot videos by clubbing everyone together. And by taking out the concern of getting an audience, the production… lauda lasoon. (Can I say lauda lasoon?)”
We also don’t have that many venues conducive to shooting these videos. “If it’s not against a recognisable background, it won’t get as many hits. The rest of the country doesn’t have enough recording rooms,” Mehta explains.
Without enough (good) digital content, comedians find it hard to reach out to new audiences and convert their online fans into patrons of their live shows. But without enough of a crowd showing up at open mics, comics can’t hone their material enough for a video that’ll get them hits. It’s a vicious circle of financial pains, technical problems, and other lauda lasoon.
Most frustratingly, there’s the forever struggle of pulling a crowd (who will buy tickets to help offset the cost, and laugh loudly so your video doesn’t need an artificial laughter track), especially when you’re new.
Earlier this year, Bangalore-based comedian Neelaksh Mathur put out a video about his struggle with recording videos, asking if people would help him with it. Mathur is possibly the first Indian comedian to crowdfund his recording in Bangalore. That’s one way to go about it. Mehta’s approach is another.
This weekend (6-8 December), Mehta brings 28 standup comics together to perform and record their sets across two well-known venues–The Habitat (Khar), and antiSOCIAL (Parel) for a nominal price.
“Shridhar Venkataraman does current affairs videos, so he needs to keep shooting. Andy [Reghu] has been trying to shoot and put out a video. I f*cking really want Andy Reghu to put out a video,” Mehta says. “Himanshu Bharadwaj. He’s been one of the most talked about comics in Delhi for months. Kitna kill karta hai voh. You’ve never heard of him, right? It’s because he doesn’t have a YouTube video. If such a stupid thing is a barrier between us and getting work, we’re f*cking idiots to sit around and not do this.”
Almost a year in now, here’s a playlist of 38 videos that have been recorded in the earlier shows of Aakash Mehta & Friends sessions, previously with six comedians over two shows. ( This weekend is his biggest show yet.)
Mehta is doing his bit, and maybe it’s time to you do a bit too. Here’s the ticket link. Watch comedy LIVE, it’s the best way to do it. And why would you not? This is your chance to secure bragging rights that you saw a viral video before anyone else.
Follow @deadantco on Instagram to win free passes!