Over the last few years, standup comedy has become a part of the Indian cultural zeitgeist. Indian comics are performing at sold out venues across the globe, raking in millions of views across platforms, and becoming household names. Naturally, new voices are entering the scene everyday, with dreams of becoming the next Vir Das or Prashasti Singh. Like with any creative endeavour, success on the stage only comes with years of practice, hard work and patience. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a head start. To help all our readers who are aspiring comedians, DeadAnt has partnered with Indian comedy pioneer Kunal Rao, to bring you the Zero To 60 standup comedy workshop.
Level 1 of the workshop—to be held on 4-5 November (from 4-7pm) in Bandra, Mumbai—covers all the basics, from structuring a joke to punching it up using quick and easy hacks. Over two days, Rao will equip you with all the necessary tools and techniques to write your first (or 100th) comedy set and take it to the stage. Participants will leave with a bunch of new skills, as well as a certificate of completion.
With over a decade’s worth of experience in the comedy scene, Rao has seen the art form’s rise and evolution over the years. That makes him well-equipped to pre-empt the potential hurdles that a newbie might face. A co-founder of EIC—one of India’s leading comedy collectives in India—whose debut special Done dropped on Amazon Prime Video, Rao also has a deep understanding and knowledge of both the craft of comedy and the entertainment industry.
“Many times when I’m at an open mic, I see comics talk about the same subjects and deliver similar punchlines,” said Rao, highlighting one trap that many budding comedians fall into. “It tells me nothing about them as individuals or their life story and their perspective about the world which is something that I try to get out of them during the workshop.”
Another common issue that Rao has noticed is new comedians struggling to find a unique voice. “There’s so much comedy out there, a lot of upcoming comics tend to emulate what they have consumed previously on stage rather than trying to find their original voice,” he said. “I encourage my students to draw from their own life experiences to think of original ideas because that’s unique to them. I am trying to be for the new comics what I wish somebody was for me and that is a mentor.”
“A lot of it has to do with the process of creation,” added Rao. “Patience is key to the writing process and that’s something I discuss with the students. It’s kind of like emotional coaching rather than the technical aspects of it. Another advantage of doing a workshop, especially as part of a group, is that you get to see other people’s method of thinking and creation. Standup can be a very solo and lonely craft. But when there’s a group of people, it makes the experience a lot more pleasant and acts as a buffer towards the lonely aspect of it.”
“One of the most common things we are asked at DeadAnt is ‘how to break into comedy’,” said Ravina Rawal, founder and CEO of DeadAnt. “It’s not an easy space to navigate and if you don’t already know the right people it can be quite frustrating to find stage time as somebody who just wants to try it out. With standup comedy also becoming a viable career option there are people from all kinds of backgrounds and age groups who want to give it a go but aren’t sure how to start. The workshop is one way to explore all of these things.”
“Having followed Kunal Rao’s work closely from the early days of EIC and having taken the workshop ourselves as a team, I found him to be one of the most patient teachers there are,” she added. “He also has a wonderful way of creating a judgement free-zone, where it doesn’t matter how many times you bomb as long as you’re trying. The certification is just a bonus as proof of something new you tried or a fear you confronted and of course, something you can put on your resume.”
The Zero To 60 workshop will take place on the first weekend of every month for the next year. Seats are limited to ensure quality one-on-one engagement for all students. Sign up quickly at deadant.co/workshop/ and start living your dream!