Praveen Kumar has just announced that Mr. Family Man, his latest Tamil comedy special, is set to be released on Amazon Prime Video on 8 May. The Bengaluru-based Kumar is one of the country’s most successful Tamil stand-up comics, with his last show 36 Vyadhiniley —which he says is the first ever Tamil comedy special— racking up over 3.6 million views on YouTube. Now he’s earned an additional badge of honour as Mr. Family Man becomes the first Tamil comedy special to be picked up by a major OTT platform.
Kumar didn’t start off as a Tamil comic. For the first seven years of his career, he would think up jokes in Tamil, then translate them to English for his performances. But a couple of years ago he decided to try his hand at writing in his mother tongue. “It was pure selfishness, it was just easier for me to write and perform in Tamil,” laughs Kumar. “And nobody was doing full Tamil shows at the time, so I thought I’d be the first one to experiment with this.”
He wrote Mr. Family Man around the same time, and took it on the road as both English and Tamil versions, depending on the city that he was performing in. But after 36 Vyadhiniley released in the middle of the tour, he found that nobody wanted to book him for English shows, they only wanted Tamil shows. “The response was amazing,” he says.
Kumar takes special pride in doing “clean comedy” which is appropriate for the entire family, and that continues with this special. Drawing heavily from his personal life, he compares the challenges of being a ‘family man’ to the epic tales of superheroes. “The entire show revolves around me, my wife and my daughter,” he explains. “It’s about the daily struggles that anyone can relate to.”
It’s not always easy being married to a stand-up comedian, when your fight might become fodder for next night’s set. How does his family feel about being the subjects of an entire special? “They’re my guinea pigs, I test these jokes in front of them even before going to the open mic,” says Kumar. “In fact, my wife gave me a lot of pointers for the bit about going shopping with my wife. So they’re very supportive.”