“Kaise kiya standup matlab… it just happened,” says Andy Reghu (like so many others). “I used to work for radio and television, where I was writing scripts, so I thought chalo…karke dekhte hain ek baar.” Born and brought up in Mumbai, Reghu has unique stage presence, complete with eccentric tics, and a fascination with flashy attire.
Reghu’s first open mic was way back in 2012. But he didn’t get on stage much at the time. “Ek saal mein ek open mic. Fir doosre saal mein second open mic. But I started doing it properly in 2015, when Canvas [Laugh Club] started its open mics,” he tells us.
Standup isn’t a full-time career yet for him, he’s still taking on writing projects while doing comedy on the side. But was he always so pragmatic? “Pehle mujhe lagta tha [that comedy can be a full-time career]. Main aise do baar naukri chhoda. Ki ab main standup karega. Phir dekha, 6 mahine mein paise hi nahin hain…”
Now very active on the Mumbai circuit, shows that have Reghu hosting come with the guarantee of a good time, regardless of what kind of night the others on the lineup are having. We caught up with him between an inter-venue run to find out a little more about him in 20-ish questions:
1. What words have people used to describe your comedy?
<Scoffs> Abhi woh stage pe aaya nahin hai. People are not using words as such. It just like, theek hai, well tried. Haan, aur bole tu bohot masti kar raha hai stage pe. Aisa mat kar.
2. What do you love about the scene right now?
That there are a lot of venues and open mics. Ek hafte mein 2-3 baar tu stage pe chhadh sakta hai. Stage pe chhadhne ka jo scene hai na, that’s the most fun part. Bohot mazaa aata hai.
3. How many minutes do you have right now?
Forty-five minutes to an hour. But I haven’t done a full hour so far. Usme kya hai ki you have to be popular. Woh hua nahin hai abhi. If I do one hour and people don’t come, khud ke liye karna padega.
4. A recent bit you saw that blew your mind?
Ali Wong’s recent bit with Ellen DeGeneres. All these people who are breaking format, woh dekhne mein mazaa aata hai.
5. Your current favourite Indian comedian?
Biswa [Kalyan Rath], Zakir [Khan], Kanan [Gill].
6. Your current favourite international comedian?
Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor.
7. An Indian comedy bit on YouTube you’ve watched at least five times?
[Abhishek] Upmanyu aur [Anubhav Singh] Bassi ka sab videos.
Ek aur video hai jo bohot baar dekha hai. Kunal Kamra’s podcast. Aur uska first video.
8. An international comedy bit on YouTube you’ve watched at least five times?
International mein baar baar… Richard Pryor’s Live in Concert.
9. Do you have any rituals before you go up on stage?
Bas main train pakad ke time pe pohonch jaaun, yehi mera ritual hai. Abhi auto-wato mein reaching on time is all. Abhi ritual aayega, jab main Uber mein aaunga, na…tab!
10. Who do you test your jokes on?
Audience, directly audience.
11. What songs do you have on loop right now?
Koi bhi gaana nahin hai. It’s just the audio recording of the previous open mic.
12. What’s the first joke you performed that got a laugh?
“Hi, my name is Andy. That’s my time.” Big applause break. This happened at Blue Frog (Mumbai).
13. What mode of transport do you use to get to a show?
Train and auto rickshaw.
14. Have you ever performed a show while you were high?
Nahin. Main peeta nahin hoon, na.
15. What’s the weirdest place you’ve performed at so far?
Umm…there have been all kinds of places. One was [a private event] for someone’s 45th birthday. They said, “It’s her birthday. You have to make her feel special.” Main bola theek hai, I’ll do comedy. Except they paid me only half [of what was owed] and told me, “You didn’t make her feel special.” Paisa hi nahin diya mereko!
16. What social media platform are you most active on?
17. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received so far about being a comedian?
Sabse important advice was ‘never leave your day job’. Other people have told me to just keep writing, and to put a couple of videos online.
18. One thing Indian comedians should stop making jokes about?
Nahin. Everything can have a new angle. Toh aisa koi topic nahin hai jispe joke nahin karna chahiye.
19. You’re one of the best hosts we’ve seen. What’s your secret?
Iska kuch answer nahin hai. I don’t even know aisa kaun bola. Mazaa aata hai host karne ko. Uske alawa aur kuch nahin hai. I like to do gags. Like for example, recently I was playing table tennis while telling jokes. Toh woh mereko mazaa aaya. And doing gags is only possible while hosting. Spot mein gag karunga toh time khatam ho jaata hai. Koi secret nahin hai. Just interacting with people and having fun.
20. What’s up with your outfits? The last time we saw you on stage, there was a metallic jacket and sunglasses involved…
What happens is that a lot of times, when I do these different outfits or these different characters, I do it because I think I can get away with some jokes. Like if I say I am a fashion icon, or that I am an influencer, but wear a t-shirt, they [audience] will not believe it. But main yeh pehenke aaunga, their reaction will be the exact opposite.
Actually mujhe mazaa aata hai yeh sab karne mein. Yeh sab main galat bol raha hoon. Jacket pehno, chashma pehno, mujhe mazaa aata hai. Aisa kuch nahin hai ki yeh mere art form ko define karta hai. Road pe pehen nahin sakta kyunki garmi lagta hai, warna pehen leta main daily.
Ok. I was trying to make up an answer, but nahin ho raha hai.
21. Tell us more about your day job. Your Instagram has us almost convinced that it’s fun.
I used to work for a start-up. I was a sketch writer. Paanch saal tak kaam kiya, phir abhi teen mahine pehle bandh ho gaya company. I think they must have seen one of my standup videos. Currently I am catching up with being unemployed.
22. Tell us about the ‘Undateable’ show you did with Punit Pania, Sriram and Pavitra Shetty. Why’d you guys stop?
We didn’t stop! <Laughs> The audience stopped coming. I think we did at least 20 shows of that. Aisa nahin hai ki bandh kar diya hai. If we get a venue and tickets sell, we might do it again.