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.
“Hey, don’t ask me one of those ‘say something witty’ type questions. And no Game of Thrones either.” Siddharth Dudeja lays down some ground rules before agreeing to answer Dead Ant’s 20 questions. We’re almost offended he thinks that’s what we were going to ask him, but moving on…
“I grew up in Bombay, because I don’t think someone born in Bombay wants to grow up anywhere else in India. It’s the best,” Dudeja asserts.
A student of mass media at K.C. College, comedy was an integral part of college fests. “In my third year, I did a few open mics, but nothing was serious. I was just doing it for fun, because it was happening in college,” he says. Dudeja was chosen to perform at one of the workshops conducted by EIC in Jai Hind college, where he won the title of ‘Best Comic’.
After graduating, Dudeja’s first job, which lasted three months, was in social media advertising. “I was getting five thousand bucks, working for like 12 hours a day. I hated it too much. I used to be exhausted by the end of each day and wonder, ‘is this all there is to life? I am just 20′!” So he quit with the intention of taking a quick break, and hit up open mics for a few months. He soon got picked up by Weirdass Comedy, where he joined the writing team, and went on to also write for AIB, Son of Abish, and more.
Five years later, Dudeja is on several showcase lineups, he’s been a reliable opener for senior comics including Kunal Kamra, Abhishek Upmanyu and Amit Tandon, and is just wrapping up his two-month tour with Madhvendra Singh, Not Available on Netflix.
1. What words have people used to describe your comedy?
Deadpan and dry.
2. What do you love about the scene right now?
I love a lot of people who are putting in the hard work. And genuinely trying to get better. But what I hate is that a lot of people are looking at it a shortcut to become famous.
3. How many minutes do you have right now?
I have been doing my trial show. I think I have a tight 50-55 minutes.
4. A recent bit you saw that blew your mind?
Nate Bargatze’s special has this bit about dead horses, which is really funny.
5. Your current favourite Indian comedian?
I don’t really watch anybody, yaar… but I like Varun Grover’s approach. Because you know where he’s coming from.
6. Your current favourite international comedian?
I am not watching comedy these days at all. But my all-time favourite is Mitch Hedberg, obviously. He’s the best. And Norm Macdonald.
7. An Indian comedy bit on YouTube you’ve watched at least five times?
None. I don’t even watch my own videos. I hate my videos so much.
8. An international comedy bit on YouTube you’ve watched at least five times?
All Mitch Hedberg bits. Heard them, and watched them more than five times.
9. An Indian comedian you think is underrated?
Aaah, this one’s a little difficult. No one in particular is underrated. But, I think, the ones who are famous, a lot of them are overrated. So maybe that. <laughs>
10. An international comic who is underrated?
Actually, I won’t know. Internationally, for me, I can’t think of them as underrated because I am watching them on Netflix, and YouTube. So I don’t really know what the scene is over there.
11. Do you have any rituals before you go up on stage?
Not really. It’s just that I prefer to not talk before going on stage.
12. Who do you test your jokes on?
Mostly I do it on stage a few times. Sometimes I am performing with a few friends who I really respect in comedy, so later we sit around and jam. And some non-comic friends as well.
13. What songs do you have on loop right now?
One More and Feel It Out by this really nice DJ called Yaeji. And O Bhavre from Daud.
14. What’s the first joke you performed that got a laugh?
Oh man! What was it, dude… shit, even I don’t remember. <laughs> It was way back, like 6-7 years ago. Something about Tarzan: The Wonder Car.
15. What mode of transport do you use to get to a show?
If it’s close by, I prefer driving. But if it’s far, I’ll sit in a cab. I enjoy going by train, at least for open mics. It keeps you up, you’re observing, plus listening to something. But not in summer.
16. Have you ever performed a show while you were high?
Ya. Multiple times. And bombed really hard.
17. What’s the weirdest place you’ve performed at so far?
I have performed at a bar in Chembur, which is like a proper desi bar. I have performed in a 5-star hotel room for someone’s anniversary. And I have performed at someone’s house where I was standing next to the door, the doorbell is ringing, and pizza is coming.
I have done multiple shows like this.
18. What social media platform are you most active on?
Twitter. I enjoy it because you can just type anything. Instagram, am still trying to figure because that’s where tickets sell, apparently.
19. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received so far about being a comedian?
It’s the most basic but actually the only advice I feel that matters, which is just go there and have fun. Even if it’s a good or a bad night, or whatever material, it’s going to reflect the same energy.
20. One thing Indian comedians should stop making jokes about?
Honestly, I don’t think there is anything you should stop making jokes about. As long as it’s a fresh and a new perspective.
21: On a scale of 1-Jay Z, how hard is your karaoke game? What’s your go-to karaoke song? We hear you always wear a cap when you sing it?
Just because Kendrick Lamar wears a cap, I was like, “let’s wear it”. King Kunta [by Kendrick Lamar] is a go-to, but I suck in the middle because he raps too fast. And Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen is another song.
22. Your Twitter bio says you’ve been accused but never convicted of stealing pizza. Have you ever really stolen pizza?
I have stolen food in general, from people on different occasions. I have this thing that if you know me, you owe me something, which is mostly food.