Next Big Thing(s): 10 Rising Stars of Indian Standup from 2019

By Mihika Jindal 13 December 2019 4 mins read

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We don’t have exact statistics yet (they’re getting computed as we speak), but a fair estimate is that only 20% of standup comedy is reaching YouTube. The reasons are manifold: the cost of recording a video is high, venues are fragmented, not all comics have enough material, or just the reluctance of getting rejected online. So obviously the comedy audience that’s not stepping out for live shows and only consuming free YouTube content ends up missing out on gems who have not broken the internet yet or don’t have a fierce enough digital presence.

In an attempt to bridge this gap, Dead Ant hangs out at open mics and trial shows, keeping our eye on comics with the most potential to make sure you don’t miss out on surefire acts.

Here are 10 comics that had our attention in 2019:

Govind Menon

“I just didn’t explore other options. Probably should have,” Govind Menon laughs. After completing a bachelors degree in Mass Media (the most useless course, according to him), he started programming comedy lineups at The Hive where he got to try his 4-minute sets. And now he’s a regular name on the Mumbai circuit.

Discover a whole lot more about who he is—his likes, dislikes and cat Mangesh, who keeps jumping out of the window.

Joel D’Souza

D’Souza’s first major brush with comedy was at the age of 18 when his extempore set on ‘Netflix and Chill’ had everyone’s attention—not because the jokes were good, but because he had no clue what he was talking about; similar to what happened with him during the improv round in Comicstaan 2 when he got “baby shower” wrong.

Learn more about his fandom for Kanan Gill, the attempt of establishing a chill/rapper-boy image on Instagram, and if he really knows what a baby shower is.

Masoom Rajwani

If there were an official run rate being tracked for open mic spots, Rajwani would be the undisputed Man of the Comedy Match. Known for running between more open mics and showcases than you’d think possible in a city like Mumbai, he doesn’t believe in wasting time or letting go of any open spots. With a coy smile and solid confidence, there is no way this one’s not going places (besides actually being in multiple literal ones a day).

Here’s more about this comedy beast, who surprisingly is not interested in Instagram or any other social media (#TrueStory).

Pavitra Shetty

She’s always on, super friendly and you’ll know she prefers being called Pavi within 30 seconds of meeting her. Livewire Shetty chanced upon comedy when her friends randomly tagged her in an open mic event. The first attempt went well, and here we are.

Know more about her mad cartwheel skills, mild OCD and how making friends come naturally to her.

Raunaq Rajani

Rajani climbed aboard the comedy wagon when the scene was still new. Already a fan of international comedy since childhood, and with a penchant for being on stage, standup comedy continued to come rather naturally to him.

Peek into Rajani’s playlist that still consists of Punjabi MC’s Mundeya Tu Bach Ke Rahi, his bizarre but fun performance in a bus, and why he decided to never perform drunk again.

Samay Raina

If you know him as the winner of the second season of Comicstaan, you already know why he’s on this list! Known for twisted premises and unexpected punchlines, Raina brings with him a stroke of unbeatable confidence, likes to bend the rules, and takes the comedy business seriously.

Know more about Raina’s scooter, his performance at a bidaai ceremony, and his first joke that got a laugh.

Siddharth Dudeja

Dudeja’s comedy career started with casual open mics till he won the ‘Best Comic’ title at an EIC workshop. After becoming a regular, he’s been on an India tour, has written for some of the biggest comedy groups, and is now a regular name on the popular lineups across India.

Here’s more on what he likes about the Indian comedy scene, how he bombed when he performed high, and his fascination with karaoke.

Sriraam Padmanabhan

An erstwhile curly-haired comic who you’ll have troubles recognising now anyway, Padmanabhan uses humour as his coping mechanism with depression. He started comedy for fun, then ditched it for a bit only to return with full gusto after a break.

Know more about Padmanabhan’s ultimate wish, why he put up his standup video on PornHub, and an endless list of things he hopes people stop making jokes about.

Sumaira Shaikh

The initial dream was to pursue psychology. But that quickly changed as Sumaira Shaikh started frequenting the Canvas Laugh Club for comedy gigs. It got her curious, and she scoured the internet to figure a way to get in. She’s been in some of the most prestigious writing rooms in the comedy industry, including the web series Pushpavalli, and now performs regularly in Mumbai.

Know more about how she loves the community feels in the Indian comedy industry, why she raps before getting on stage, and how she’s done with city vs city jokes.

Sumit Sourav

Sumit Sourav was discovered on the television comedy hunt—The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, but that was not a great experience for him. He entered the live standup scene from Bangalore before he moved to Mumbai. While he acknowledges that Maximum City offers better infrastructure and opportunities, he still prefers the Bangalore scene for how supportive it is.

Know more about how Sumit Sourav deals with big shows, how he got high on cough syrup once before his act, and his performance at an erotic bachelor party.


Mihika Jindal


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