Class of 2024: Comedians To Keep An Eye On This Year

By Bhanuj Kappal 9 January 2024 11 mins read

The DeadAnt Class of 2024 is a hand-picked list of comedians who have paid their dues, done their time, and proven that they have what it takes to hit the big time in the coming year.

Spread the love

The year is over. All the awards have been handed out, the end-of-year lists published, and the DeadAnt team is already looking forward to a bright 2024. But before we get back to the grind, we wanted to start things on a hopeful note, looking ahead to the next 12 months. 

Every year, there’s a new batch of comedians who take the scene by storm. Some will rocket their way to stardom by putting out clip after viral clip. Others might drop a special that changes how we think about comedy. Some don’t do anything different, but finally see the result of their hard work on the road, the momentum built by performing at room after room for years finally reaching a tipping point. 

So much of that process has to do with luck and timing, and it’s a fool’s game to predict which comedian will have a standout 2024. But we’re all fools here at DeadAnt, and we’re proud of it. So we got talking to our favourite comedy insiders—open mic producers, tour promoters, critics, senior comics—and asked them about the comedian that they’re most excited to watch in 2024. A bunch of longlists, short-lists and heated arguments later, we’re ready with the DeadAnt Class of 2024: ten comedians from across the country who have paid their dues, done their time, and proved that they have what it takes to hit the big time. Some of them will make it. Some might not. But they’re all worth adding to your “must-watch” list. Read on and get a head start on the comedians you’ll be laughing along to next year. 

Sumer More 

Mumbai boy Sumer More’s interest in comedy came from an unlikely corner—a public controversy involving a city comedian whose jokes about a beloved Maharashtrian historical figure landed them in hot water with the police and some right-wing activists. It’s the sort of negative publicity that would make most people wary of dipping their toes into comedy waters. But for More, it made him want to dig deeper and investigate this art form that had so many conservatives in a tizzy. The engineering student found the work of comedy legends like Louis CK and Dave Chappelle online, and soon he was doing his own sets at open mics across the city. 

“When I started, I was trying to be edgy with dick jokes et al,” he says. “But watching good comedians perform helps you evolve. So now I’m trying to keep it clean, but with a goofy persona.” More’s comedy touches upon everything from Rakhi Sawant’s acting school, the mosquito invasion of his home, and his experiences as a young Dalit person in a society that still practises caste discrimination. His performances on the Blue Material line-up (an all-Dalit comedy show) showcased a comedian who already excels at addressing cultural issues and social critique in his material, without ever losing sight of the fact that the first priority is to make people laugh. More is currently working on his debut hour, which he wants to take on the road in 2024. He’s also planning to finally step into the comedy Reels space. Keep an eye out for this exciting young comedian, coming soon to a comedy venue or Instagram stream near you. 

Ravi Agarwal 

Growing up in a small town in Assam, Ravi Agarwal was quite the introverted kid. But he did have a fascination with the stage. He always thought it was poetry that would get him there. While studying law in Bengaluru, he started performing his poetry at his college’s cultural events. When he moved to Delhi to practise law at the Delhi High Court, he took to hitting the open mics, still focused on his experiments with rhyme and metre. As an ice-breaker, he would often start his open mic performances with a pithy one-liner. That’s when some of the regulars at these open mics, noticing Agarwal’s natural stage presence, pushed him to try his hand at standup comedy instead. 

His early open mics were an absolute disaster, but Agarwal persevered. He took guidance from anyone willing to offer some words of advice. Rohit Gaur, who managed Canvas Laugh Club in Gurgaon, sat him down and explained the process of writing a set. Comedians he opened for—such as Prathyush Chaubey, Devesh Dixit and Manik Mahna—also shared their insights with him. By the time he was forced to move to Guwahati by the COVID-19 lockdowns, he was certain that his future lay in comedy. At the city’s few mixed open mics, he met some fellow aspiring comedians, and together they started the High Time Comedy Club, Guwahati’s first. For the past year and a half, he’s been performing and perfecting his debut hour In My Defense, which features sharp observational comedy about growing up as a Marwari child in Assam, his experiences as a lawyer dealing with cases of child abuse and crimes against women, and that one time that he himself was kidnapped by some shop-workers. “I’m going to keep tightening it and put some bits out on YouTube,” Agarwal says of his plans for 2024. “I’m also excited about the shows we’ve been producing with High Time. We’ve already put up six big shows, and we’re planning on doing a lot more next year.” 


Like many of the comedians on this list, Jasmeet Singh—better known as Jimmy—first fell in love with comedy thanks to Zakir Khan. Specifically, he came across a couple of videos on YouTube in which Zakir Khan and Neeti Palta roast each other. Singh had always had an artistic bent. He’d done theatre in school in Chandigarh, studied scriptwriting at Whistling Woods in Mumbai, even written a movie that never got released, largely thanks to the financial hit of demonetisation. But when he stumbled on the roast videos, he realised that this was it—the creative format that he’d been looking for. He began studying the form, and cold-messaged comedians like Abhishek Upmanyu for guidance. In 2019, he auditioned at the Canvas Laugh Club in Gurugram, and ended up winning six open mics in a row. That was all the encouragement he needed.

Jimmy specialises in what he calls “self-derogatory” comedy. He’s currently writing a bit about how he was born with three nipples, and all the embarrassment that caused. There’s also bits on hostel life, his family, and “all the things that have shaped me as a below-average person.” When he’s not poking fun at himself, Jimmy excels at topical satire with an anti-establishment bent. If his Instagram reels are anything to go by, he’s also mastered the art of broaching controversial topics and tip-toeing right up to the line dividing humour and offence, without ever stepping over. Now the comedian—who’s on sabbatical from his job at Chandigarh University—is ready to take things up a notch. “I’m going to put up a lot of new videos in 2024, and hopefully tour a lot too,” he says. “It’s time to finally make some money, because till now I’ve been operating on bank rolls only.”

Pooja Kashyap 

If there’s one thing you take away from a conversation with Pooja Kashyap, it’s her relentless drive to make it in standup comedy. Hailing from Bilaspur in Chattisgarh, her love for comedy led her all the way to Jaipur (with a short stop-over in New Delhi), where she spends all her time writing jokes about her family and lived experience and perfecting her craft at open mics and solo shows. “Even if there’s only four people in the audience and they laugh at my jokes, it makes me feel amazing,” she says. “It makes me feel empowered and gives me the motivation to write more.” 

Kashyap excels at family-friendly comedy that revolves around the peculiarities of her parents, the absurdities of the arranged marriage process, and the struggle of sharing a name with cringe-pop phenomenon Dhinchak Pooja. It’s not the most unique subject matter, but what sells it is Kashyap’s endearing on-stage persona that pulls you in and makes you want to hear more of what’s going on in her life. In March, she put up her first YouTube video—titled Do Boond Ki Zindagi—which has already racked up over 140,000 views. A quick look at the comments section and all you see are outpourings of love and adulation (which is sadly, quite rare for a female comedian in India). Kashyap is gearing up for a big 2024, with a new video set to be out in March and a bunch of tours in the works. “My goal for next year is to put out 2-3 videos and see what happens,” she says. “Success depends on the algorithm, but I just want the satisfaction that I have done my best from my side.”

Shruti Garg 

Five years ago, one of Shruti Garg’s friends asked them to be their “bringer”—the plus ones that many open mics demand that participants bring along—at the Playground Comedy Studio in Saket. They complied, and soon became a regular at the space, charmed by Anubhav Singh Bassi’s easygoing hosting style and the freedom that Garg saw the comedians had on the stage. “It was such a non-judgemental space, you were allowed to bomb on stage and that was completely all right,” they said. “That really encouraged me to try my hand at comedy.”

As a non-binary queer person and a mental health professional, Garg brings a fresh perspective to their comedy that one rarely encounters in Indian comedy spaces. Their work revolves around their identity, with dark, topical jokes on the experience of being queer in a country that’s still ambivalent on LGBTQ+ rights. The Mae Martin and Taylor Tomlinson fan, a regular on the Queer-Rated Comedy lineup, believes that comedy allows you to share things that you’d otherwise feel uncomfortable bringing up in normal conversation. Through their comedy, they want to allow the audience to see a reflection of themselves in the experiences Garg talks about. “My plan [for the next year] is to take my comedy around my queerness to more spaces and make different types of audiences relate to me queerness,” they say. “I want to go to spaces where the audience might find it uncomfortable, but at the same time, though humour, bring them a little closer to the concept of queerness.”

Ashwin Srinivas 

When Ashwin Srinivas moved from Chennai to Bengaluru for his IT job, he found himself with a lot of spare time. So he got to exploring the city’s burgeoning cafe and pub culture, which naturally involved attending a whole lot of open mics. He was such a regular that comedians started to recognise him, and came and spoke to him after their sets. At one of these open mics, they asked the audience if anyone wanted to jump on stage, and Srinivas took them up on the offer. “I just started doing comedy because I had a lot of free time on my hands,” he laughs. “But now I’ve developed a lot of respect for the art form.” 

The Bill Burr and Louis CK fan prides himself on eschewing easy punchlines and low-hanging fruit. His persona on stage is decidedly awkward and deadpan—just like he is offstage, he says—and he excels at finding fresh ways to extract humour from material about working in the Bengaluru IT industry, his family, the room-mate life, and the travails of being a single man in 21st century India. There’s even a particularly funny bit on his YouTube channel about how much he misses COVID-19. A regular on comedy stages across India, the comedian has spent 2023 writing loads of new jokes. “I’m going to be uploading a lot of new content in the coming months,” he says of his 2024 plans. “My YouTube channel is going to be very active this year.” 

Rupali Tyagi

Delhi-based comedian Rupali Tyagi has lived quite a full life. Originally from a small town, she has moved all over India in the last decade before putting down roots in New Delhi, giving her a wealth of experience and regional flavour to draw from. She followed the traditional engineering then MBA route, before falling in love with comedy in 2016, when she was living in Hyderabad. Motherhood has added a new dimension to her comedy—she gave birth to a daughter in 2018, and proudly declares that she managed to write 20 new minutes even while dealing with her pregnancy. 

Much of Tyagi’s recent material revolves around being a new mother, though there are plenty of segues into topics like Muzaffarnagar’s katta gun culture and whether ChatGPT represents a real threat to comedians. But what really sets her apart is her strong voice and the conviction with which she delivers punchlines about things like naming your child, Bollywood’s depictions of parenthood, and her battles with HR types. Blending cynicism and pragmatism in equal measure, she’s got a rare talent for extracting the maximum number of laughs from quotidian anecdotes. In 2024, she’s looking to expand beyond that space into long-form story-telling. “My daughter is five-years-old now and I feel I am not in a firefighting mode like before,” she says. “I would like to write more about themes that I have not touched so far, which are more fluid with respect to time and space. I also plan to release more content this year, both on YouTube and Instagram.”

Pranay Singh 

If you’re a businessman with dodgy business practices, avoid the front row at a Pranay Singh comedy show. Because it turns out this promising young comedian is also a GST inspector. No seriously, you can see him posing in uniform on his Instagram. In 2018, Singh—who hails from a small town in Bihar—had just received an offer to join the tax authorities, but his joining date wasn’t till a year later. He spent that “gap year” performing at the handful of open mics that took place in Patna, and slowly fell in love with standup comedy. The Zakir Khan and Sumit Anand fan continued to perform even after he entered full-time employment, making the trip from Bolpur to Kolkata every weekend just to get his shot on the stage. 

“When COVID-19 happened, I started doing a lot of Zoom open mics,” he says. “I got so much exposure there, watched a lot of comics’ comics, and decided to pursue this seriously.” Singh has since moved to Kolkata, where he’s a well-respected regular on the comedy circuit. He’s just finished writing his first solo hour—titled Nalayak—which touches upon his family life growing up in small-town Bihar, with the occasional left-field detour into darker, more topical territory. Debut hour finally in hand, he’s getting ready to take 2024 by storm. “I’m planning to record and upload a lot of my material next year, and take this hour on the road,” he says.  

Daahab Chishti

Things were going swimmingly for Daahab Chishti in 2021. After working in the travel industry for a decade, she’d made a surprise detour into standup comedy in 2017, motivated by a manager who suggested she put her sense of humour to better use. Her rise was rapid. She was quickly picked for lineup shows at the Canvas Laugh Club, started hosting shows for much bigger names, and was selected for season 3 of Comicstaan. She was on the leaderboard after the first two episodes were recorded, when shooting stopped due to a COVID-19 lockdown. That’s when disaster struck. First her mother was diagnosed with COVID, then she was. Chishti spent four months in the ICU, hanging on for dear life, and then spent a year doing physical therapy. 

“When I was in the hospital, I was told to manifest the future I wanted, and I used to manifest myself back on the stage,” she tells me, sounding cheerful even as she talks about one of the lowest points in her life. “When I first got back on stage and heard the first laughs, it was an incredible moment of joy.” That same infectious cheer, as well as an ability to see the silver punchline in life’s darkest clouds, are what make Chishti such an effective comedian. She’s constantly picking up on the oddities of everyday life and turning them into comedic gold with a quick shift in perspective. Or as she likes to put it, quoting Kanan Gill, she’s turning “deja vu” into “vuja de”. Her excellent debut YouTube clip Mujhe Ladke Bahut Pasand Hain has garnered over 480,000 views already, and Chishti has plenty more in the tank. “I’m developing a set on the friendzone, and will hopefully put that out online in the next three or four months,” she says. “And if things go the way I’m thinking, then India tour aur international tour karenge.” 

Masoom Rajwani 

For over eight years, Masoom Rajwani has been the quintessential comic’s comic. One senior comedian calls Rajwani “the hardest working comic in the scene,” thanks to his incredible work ethic that sees him show up at open mics night after night, often hitting up multiple open mic events in the same evening.That he’s not one of the biggest names in the scene yet—even though we named him Next Big Thing in 2019—has nothing to do with this comedic output and everything to do with the fact that he refused to put his material online or even have an online presence at all—until this week. Titled Masoom Vichaar, this is the first of four videos he has scheduled for release this year.

“It’s not so much that I’m ready to go online as much as that I finally have the resources to put together something I’d like to show to people,” explains the comedian. “I never think something is 100% ready, even now.” Rajwani’s comedy retains the progressive, anti-establishment edge that so many other comedians have dropped in these politically charged times, without ever coming across as joyless or preachy. Or as he puts it, “my comedy is very street, not something you can perform at college shows and corporate shows.” For now, Rajwani’s focus is on his debut video, shot in a repurposed ice factory in the heart of Mumbai’s heritage district. “It’s a new thing that I’m experimenting with and I’m super excited about it.” 


Bhanuj Kappal

Bhanuj Kappal is a culture journalist who likes being shamed by Dead Ant’s editor on social media for missing deadlines, and dislikes… well, everything else.


comments for this post are closed