Kolkata comedian Amrita Chanda uploaded her first standup comedy video on YouTube on 27 September, and it’s as strong a debut as any. The young comic looks extremely comfortable in the seven-minute clip as she dishes out punchlines about having boys as flatmates and dealing with annoying overachieving cousins. Chanda is also done with the absolutely useless quotes we come across on Instagram and, has some interesting insights into the Twilight movies.
We caught up with Chanda earlier in the week, and she spoke about how she’s so much of a loner that she only really leaves her home to hit the stage. “Sometimes the first time I speak in the entire day is when I’m on stage,” she said. “I feel standup comedy is a place of honesty. Only the truth is funny. That’s how I got into standup and kind of stayed. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me.”
Having performed at the Kolkata Comedy Festival in 2018 and now with a YouTube clip under her belt, it’s safe to say that Chanda is serious about her “funny business”. She opened up to Deadant about her approach to the craft, keeping kids hostage to perform a show, and going tripling on a scooter for a show.
1. What words have people used to describe your comedy?
Serious. Terrifying. Unfunny and funny.
2. What do you love about the scene right now?
There’s a Seinfeld suite for comic accommodation in one of the comedy clubs in Kolkata with an old poster of Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld. I love that.
3. How many minutes do you have right now?
I’ve always felt like I don’t even have 5 minutes. But I’m working on a new hour called I Burn Bridges.
4. A recent bit you saw that blew your mind?
Not recent but I absolutely love James Acaster’s ‘lunar eclipse’ bit. It was a clip from Cold Lasagna Hate Myself 1999 and has been removed from YouTube since. It’s the special in which he does an act with a circle and a semi-circle to represent two different menstrual cycles. And then somehow syncs them with the lunar eclipse and Sopranos reruns.
5. Your current favourite Indian comedian?
I admire different comedians for different things but my absolute favourite is Abhinav Tewary.
6. Your current favourite international comedian?
Bill Burr, James Acaster and Demetri Martin.
7. An Indian comedy bit on YouTube you’ve seen at least five times?
I don’t have one of those.
8. An international comedy bit on YouTube you’ve watched at least five times?
Repeating myself but James Acaster’s ‘lunar eclipse’ bit. I can’t get over it.
9. An Indian comic you think is underrated?
Abhinav Tewary. His observations are true to that of a comedian’s which I find rare. I’ve grown up with him in standup and I haven’t seen this kind of diligence and brilliance of thought and execution. Act outs are hilarious. Really good and heavily underrated.
10. An international comic you think is underrated?
I’m not sure about underrated but Mike Wozniak.
11. Do you have any rituals before you go on stage?
I have none of those.
12. Who do you test your jokes on?
I test them on myself. And then tank everywhere else.
13. What songs do you have on loop right now?
I don’t listen to any music. My cat Ransom likes to listen to the title track of Gilmore Girls so I play that for him often.
14. What’s the first joke you performed that got a laugh?
I had a joke about being in a bad mood when you’re going to war. That got me the first few laughs.
15. What mode of transport do you use to get to a show?
I share cabs with comics mostly. I’ve also been to mics on a scooter with two other comic friends. I sit in the front with my head bent so the guy driving can see the road while the third comic holds the amp and stuff. We do these things for stand up in Kolkata.
16. Have you ever performed a show while high?
Yes, I have. It wasn’t very different from the usual.
17. What’s the weirdest place you’ve performed at so far?
It was an open mic at a cafe where two kids were very loud. I took one with me on stage, kept her hostage so the other one wouldn’t make any noise through my set. Oddly that worked.
18. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received so far about being a comedian?
I’ve received a lot of good advice. What I found very fitting was, “you’re not a comic if you’re not ready to tank”. It’s something I consistently do so that’s great advice for me.
19. One thing Indian comedians should stop joking about?
I don’t know about Indian comics but I’d appreciate it if comics stop tagging jokes to be dark. The minute you have a random bit on death or a rotten apple, they just start calling it dark. Find that odd. Saying the word dark doesn’t make things dark. And feeling it makes you want to shut up and not talk about it for years. So we could lose the dark tag is what I feel.
20. Which social media are you most active on?
I try to be active on Instagram but I’m not very good at it.