If you’re a fan of standup, chances are you’ve nagged your favourite comedian about their next standup video at least once—”Buttttt when is next video?” 30 seconds after they’ve uploaded a new one is not an uncommon reaction in YouTube comments sections.
Ever wonder why it takes artists so damn long between videos? For starters, it takes ages to come up with even five minutes of (good enough) new material. Then you have to be ready—we mean REALLY ready—to retire a bit forever because once it’s online, you’re not going to be able to use it again. Everyone’s already seen it, and comedy doesn’t work like music—your audience doesn’t want to hear the Greatest Hits all over again.
And then there’s the actual video itself. Whether it’s a minute-long or seven, even the most casual seeming clips require a basic setup and crew. That costs money. Unless you’re in the top 10 of India, or landing enough corporate gigs and branded content/influencer activity to ensure cash flow, it’s a harder hustle than you’d imagine. Artists barely get paid for the rooms/gigs they perform at—and if they do, it’s usually severely delayed, as evidenced by the scores of long Facebook update posts by frustrated comics in the last couple of years.
Neelaksh Mathur has been performing comedy for the last four years. He’s holding onto his advertising job for the day, and slips into the comedy circuit after hours for catharsis. “I have been trying to get a good video recording since 2018, but it never worked out,” Mathur told DeadAnt, when we reached out to ask him about his ongoing crowdfunding campaign on Wishberry. “Sometimes the response was not good, and sometimes I would just cringe at my own jokes and not release them. It is quite disheartening when you don’t get a good video after spending so much money. I also strongly believe that there is not much happening “visually” in Indian standup, so every time I record a video I try to make it look different, which costs me more,” Mathur explained.
Mathur was inspired to crowdfund his standup comedy video by a musician friend of his crowdfunding for his EP.
“You are not only raising money for your art, but you also get to know how many people actually believe in you.”
“You are not only raising money for your art, but you also get to know how many people actually believe in you,” Mathur adds. “I have been quite vocal about my privilege. And I knew people would question me, ‘you have the money, why do you need to do this?’ But I have already spent a lot of money on video recordings. Also, I didn’t want people to pity me. Artists all over the world crowdfund their products and it is a normal thing. If you like what I do, you support me.”
With a target of Rs. 50,000, he’s reaching out to fans to crowdsource funds to shoot a video at his next show on 10 August at That Comedy Club, Bangalore.
How can you help? Buy tickets and go for his show if you’re in Bangalore. He needs a full house for the recording. Or you can visit his Wishberry crowdsourcing account to see a breakup of costs, and how far along has he reached in his endeavour (Rs. 200 so far). If the target is not achieved, your pledged donation will be reversed back into your account. If it does reach the target, you (and him) get a YouTube video.
What’s in it for you? Well, you’re supporting the craft and an artist. Additional rewards range from shoutouts on his social media, free access to his live shows, an uncut preview of his recorded videos, and exclusive previews to his comedy before the rest of the world.
But something to consider: let’s say everything goes as planned, the target is met and the video is recorded—but the performance is not to Mathur’s satisfaction—what happens then? “This is a legit fear as it has happened before. But whenever I have recorded, it has always been in someone else’s audience, and I would be doing like a 10-15-minute set. This time it’s different. I am doing an hour. So I get more space to establish character, which acts as a catalyst to my jokes,” he hopes out loud. “But if I don’t do well, I will book another date and record another show with iPhones.”