Born and brought up in Mumbai, Masoom Rajwani distinctively remembers kickstarting his comedy career on 18 January 2016 at an open mic. Like most people, inspiration first set in when he started watching comedy online in 2014-15 and then live, at Canvas Laugh Club.
Alarmingly regular on the open mic circuit, he’s known for hitting up multiple shows on a single night. All that practice has led to his one-hour trial show, Mostly Overconfidence, which he’s currently performing.
How does he manage his mad hectic open mic schedule with that coy smile and robust confidence intact? Let’s find out.
1. What words have people used to describe your comedy?
2. What do you love about the scene right now?
There’s a lot of stage time available. It’s very democratic. If you’re not getting stage time, people are starting their own rooms, and creating stage time for themselves. Which is helping the scene because the greater the number of rooms, the more spots you can do in a day.
3. How many minutes do you have right now?
I have done trial shows where I’ve done an hour. Basically, I wake up thinking I have 60 [minutes] and I go to sleep thinking I have 5 [minutes]. That’s where I’m at. <chuckles>
4. A recent bit you saw that blew your mind?
I think it has to be Andrew Schulz on oppression and cooking.
6. Your current favourite international comedian?
7. Still? Despite…?
I’m not saying I like him as a human or I support what he did. I just find whatever he wrote funny.
8. An Indian comedy bit on YouTube you’ve watched at least five times?
Kunal Kamra’s latest standup.
9. An International comedy bit on YouTube you’ve watched at least five times?
Louis CK’s SNL bit on Pedophiles.
10. An Indian comedian you think is underrated?
Bhavneet Singh from Hyderabad.
11. An international comic who is underrated?
Sam Morril and Mark Normand.
12. Do you have any rituals before you go up on stage?
I go through my book. It’s not regular though. Sometimes I just go on stage, sometimes I listen to songs.
13. Who do you test your jokes on?
The audience. I have a bunch of comic friends who I message. But I don’t always take their feedback; I try my jokes on the audience even if they say no.
14. What songs do you have on loop right now?
Kendrick Lamar’s Humble.
15. What mode of transport do you use to get to a show?
I travel by train or bus. I do a bunch of shows over the city.
16. Have you ever performed a show while you were high?
Yeah, yeah. Lots of times. <laughs>
17. What’s the weirdest place you’ve performed at so far?
I have a bunch of stories.
I performed at a baby shower about a year into comedy where I think Urooj [Ashfaq] went on stage and did jokes on divorce, Rueben [Kaduskar] did jokes on stammering and I did an abortion joke. It was a pretty bad show.
Another time, when I was about three months into comedy, we were called for a 40-minute show – four comics, doing 10 minutes each. It turned out we were performing for kids who had Thalassemia or are suffering from blood cancer. We weren’t aware that we were performing for cancer patients. We thought it’s a normal standup show. So we asked things like, “aapko bade hokar kya banna hai?” That was terrible.
There was also one show at Andheri that a bunch of comics were doing. The show started at 10. It went terribly. After the show, I looked at the audience members and one guy looked back and yelled, “You suck!”. So yeah, that was weird.
18. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received so far about being a comedian?
I have two of these. One is by Aakash Mehta. He said, “Learning comedy is like a baby learning to walk. You have to fall to learn how to walk properly. You have to bomb to learn. And even after learning you might bomb.”
And the second one was by Karunesh [Talwar] who said you can’t blame the stage or anyone. You’re on stage to prove that you’re funny. If your jokes aren’t working, say something that’s funny. Don’t stick to your act.
19. One thing Indian comedians should stop making jokes about?
I don’t think there is anything any comedian shouldn’t joke about. It’s a learning process. If you do jokes on topics that have been done, you at least learn something out of that joke. Out of every 10 bad jokes, you get one good joke.
20. What’s the one thing in your trial show that you’re most overconfident about and you shouldn’t be? (Or is this an ironic name and you’re actually panicking?!)
Oh no, it is mostly overconfidence. Because the first time I did it, I did not know if I have an hour. That was a gamble. I luckily did do over an hour. Secondly, I was overconfident that I’ve been doing comedy for a while now so five people might show up. 365 days into three years and you’d expect five people to come and fucking nobody came.
21. You have zero Instagram posts. You’ve been tagged in lots of pictures but have posted none?
No, I just don’t feel like posting. Also, because I’m scared of getting hate. That’s why I’m not active on social media.
22. We’ve heard you have the highest open mics in one-night run rate. What’s the craziest day you’ve had and the maximum distance you’ve covered over Bombay while performing?
Has to be 7/8 in a day. It’s usually on a Sunday. A Sunday show starts at 11 am at Cuckoo [Club]. Then I’d go to the Habitat to do the 2 pm show. Then I’d go to Thane to do the 5 pm show and I used to come back to Bandra to do Standup Guys at 7.30 pm. Then I’d go to Andheri. And on Sunday night in Andheri there are a bunch of shows: there’s Redbricks, Matchbox [Cowork]. So, I’d ask around if I can perform.