Next Big Thing: Raunaq Rajani on Doing Pushups Before a Show, Performing in a Bus & Never Getting Drunk Again

By Mihika Jindal 02 May 2019


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Next Big Thing is a series where we talk to comedians who haven’t quite broken out online or as live acts yet. These are the names you want to watch out for, if you want boasting rights later about having seen them start out.

Born and brought up in Mumbai, Raunaq Rajani hopped on to the standup comedy wagon eight years ago with an open mic in Mumbai. The scene was new back in the day, and Rajani, just out of school, had nothing better to do. He used to watch a lot of American comedians on YouTube. And performing on stage was not new for him as he had been participating in school dramas and debates regularly.

We can’t tell you why yet, but you’re going to be seeing a lot of him this year, so we got him to answer some quick questions so you can get to know him better. Ready?

1. What words have people used to describe your comedy?

I don’t really ask people for their feedback. I don’t know what words people use, but I know a lot of them say that I have a voice different from others.

2. What do you love about the scene right now?

I love that nobody can decide your career. It’s very democratic. You can just go on YouTube and do whatever you like.

3. How many minutes do you have right now?

I can do an hour right now, maybe a little more. But I am not quite happy with it, because I have been doing it for so long. But there is a set of 25 minutes that I have written in the past few months that I am really excited about.

4. A recent bit you saw that blew your mind?

I saw an old bit of Joe Rogan, where he talks about how the Egyptians were an evolved species before us. And then they all died because they didn’t think reproduction was important. And now all the dumbasses are left here, and that’s who we are.

5. Your current favourite Indian comedian?

Karunesh Talwar.

6. Your current favourite international comedian?

Andrew Schulz (New York).

7. An Indian comedy bit on YouTube you’ve watched at least five times?

My own bit. <laughs> Whatever is there on my channel.

8. An international comedy bit on YouTube you’ve watched at least five times?

The same bit by Joe Rogan.

9. An Indian comedian you think is underrated?

Shashwat Maheshwari.

10. An international comic who is underrated?

Sam Morril.

11. Do you have any rituals before you go up on stage?

I used to jump around backstage, and do push ups. But in the last year, I’ve started just going up on stage. I don’t have any ritual anymore. I feel like I don’t have any hypertension I need to relieve.

12. Who do you test your jokes on?

My girlfriend.

13. What songs do you have on loop right now?

<Checks his Apple music for the most played tracks> Kaam Bhaari from Gully Boy, Mundeya Tu Bach Ke Rahi by Punjabi MC and Know Yourself by Drake.

14. What’s the first joke you performed that got a laugh?

It was a bit about how American cartoons are dubbed in Hindi. It was very basic. It was just translations, and my thoughts on those translations.

15. What mode of transport do you use to get to a show?

I drive.

16. Have you ever performed a show while you were high?

No. But I have done a show drunk. I feel like alcohol makes me slow, though, so I don’t want to give it another shot [no pun intended]. In social situations, it makes me much funnier, but then I am scared that if it makes me so funny, it’s never going to stick. Plus I drive to and back from my shows, so…

17. What’s the weirdest place you’ve performed at so far?

Oh, I have performed in a bus for a private event once. There were some rich people doing a club hopping thing. And in between that club hopping, they wanted some entertainment on the bus. I told them it’s a bad idea. But then they told me how much [money] they were offering, so I did it. But it was a great show. They knew the culture, and had been to comedy shows, so they knew they have to be quiet and listen. It was a lot of fun.

18. What social media platform are you most active on?

Instagram.

19. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received so far about being a comedian?

Anirban (Dasgupta) told me to just go on stage every day, because that’s my job now.

20. One thing Indian comedians should stop making jokes about?

Middle class lifestyle.

Next Big Thing Raunaq Rajani Standup Comedy