Season 3 of The Lockdown has begun and we’re all strapped in for at least another two weeks of being confined to our homes. While you’ve been figuring out how to cook, clean, eat, sleep, stay awake and work all in the same day, comedians have spent this time to also create content to keep fans engaged, leverage their platforms to raise money for front-line workers, and basically distract themselves from panicking about the uncertainty that lies ahead.
There have been dozens of hits and misses with “quarantine content” (a phrase we’re all very pleased with right now but will come to dread in no time)—and we’ve previously covered some here—but more and more artists are now finding their groove. They have emerged from urgent Zoom calls and WhatsApp group brainstorm sessions with a few more structured digital formats to look forward to. Here’s a list of the highlights, for when you exhaust everything on your streaming platform watch lists (yes, that’s a real thing) and/or simply want a break from the investment a proper binge warrants.
Pro-tip: Catch this stuff now while it’s still in the experimental phase, and therefore free, so you know what you want to buy tickets for when that becomes the only way to access it all.
Daniel Fernandes – You Started It
You Started It is Daniel Fernandes’ podcast that used to have a different guest on each time discussing social media comments in Season 1, and news of the week in Season 2. In Season 3, Fernandes is taking more of a risk—not only he is flying solo, he’s also allowing it to be more fan-driven, in that fans throw in suggestions for topics they want his take on. It’s also shot in his living room so it feels more intimate than before, especially when his cats drop in without warning. At 15-25 minutes an episode, he’s also going for quicker conversations—perhaps because they’re with himself—and it’s based on a zero-pressure pay-as-you-please model. Liked it? Hit the payment link. Didn’t enjoy? No problem, carry on. So far he’s covered the coronavirus, of course, but also mental health, how to be single, Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor’s passing, and the one that got everyone riled up…Arnab Goswami. You can watch all the episodes here.
Varun Thakur, Aadar Malik, Kautuk Srivastava & Neville Shah – The Internet Said So
Perhaps the most frustrating fallout of the SnG split is that four of them are still a loose collective that does things together, but they don’t call themselves anything. So we spend half the word count of every piece they’re featured in just listing all four names. And, well, complaining about it. Anyway, SnG used to have a wildly popular podcast called The Big Question, but when the group’s social media passwords changed, so did the podcast. Reintroduced in September last year as The Internet Said So, the goal is to take “random, fun, stupid, pointless, weird, shocking “facts” they’ve found on the internet and discuss them to death. Ever met a comedian who could stick to the plan, though? The hour-long episodes—released every Tuesday—invariably collapse into a conversation about themselves and each other. Not that we’re complaining, that’s entertaining too. They’ve released 25 episodes already, and just introduced a special edition every Saturday as a live ticketed episode—content only you can be part of and privy to for an exclusive experience. Follow all/any of the four on Instagram for updates, and catch up on old episodes on Youtube.
Shreeja Chaturvedi – Small Jokes
We’ve had our eye on Shreeja Chaturvedi since she starting showing up regularly at open mics across Mumbai, going on to appear on Comicstaan as a contestant, and workshopping her first full hour Despo Vibes just before the lockdown. She was on a roast panel over the weekend for YouTube’s One Nation India Initiative to raise funds for the fight against the ongoing pandemic, in which she hilariously obliterated fellow comedians (so if you see her on any lineup where she may have an opportunity to do that again, immediately tune in). On her own Instagram, she’s been releasing a series of super random “Small Jokes”—one-line zingers about how love is more dangerous than coronavirus, being upset about the lockdown and more. You’ll find yourself going “Lolwhut?!” in reaction to most of it, but that’s really a question for yourself as you continue to confuse yourself by looping and laughing. Follow her on Instagram.
Rahul Dua – In Conversation with Songs
The lockdown is affecting everyone so differently, it’s fascinating to watch. Rahul Dua, for instance, is listening to music like the rest of us. Except that he’s taking every song’s lyrics very, very personally. In Conversation with Songs is a series of mini-episodes in which Dua reacts to lines from songs we assume are on his playlist. Hilariously rant-y 15-second sketches follow. We’ve seen Lilly Singh do something like it early on, even Jose Covaco’s had a go, but there’s something about watching Dua’s multiple personalities get derailed/triggered by this stuff that keeps it fresh and us checking back regularly for more. Follow him on Instagram.
Neville Shah – Neville Cooks Things
Neville Shah has long had a reputation for knowing his stuff when it comes to food, and being a great cook himself. He regularly gives his followers a glimpse of this through his Instagram stories, where he shares recipes of local dishes that he’s mastered, with tips on how to tweak the classics to suit individual palates. He’s been meaning to turn this into a more structured thing for ages, but between juggling his day job in advertising and parallel career in comedy, he never got around to it. Then the lockdown happened. Neville Cooks Things is now a series on his YouTube channel that couldn’t have come at a better time. “I am not a chef,” he declares right up top. The first episode is his version of Spaghetti Aglio Olio, without strict quantities or instructions. “You need a lot of garlic…tichki of olive oil” is his way of saying “swaad anusaar”, which encourages amateur cooks at home to enjoy the process of exploring what they really like. As he guides you through the process, Shah also throws in tips you may or may not want to pay attention to (“toss the spaghetti against the wall, if it’s done it’ll stick, if not, it won’t”). It’s a casual, fun way to test and taste your way around things that sound complicated to make, but are super easy, with ingredients that you’ll probably already find in your kitchen. Here’s hoping his tripod doesn’t break (it has), so we can get the weekly installments as promised.
Punya Arora – Ms. Lizzie
Punya Arora has spent her time quarantine hula-hooping, learning the Maori art of poi online, and channelling her alter ego, Elizabeth Marvekagskdgkhbdk, aka Ms. Lizzie. Based on her chemistry teacher in school in Bangalore, the character has popped up sporadically through the years, but Ms. Lizzie has really come into her own the last month or so. Draped in a kasavu sari, flowers in her hair and a Malayalam accent that’s only slightly thicker than the big red bindi on her forehead, it’s reminiscent of Anu Menon’s beloved Lola Kutty from Menon’s days as a VJ on Channel [V]. But Arora entirely makes the character her own, and her catchphrase “ollrite, ollrite” is hard to get out of your head. Follow her on Instagram so you don’t miss her tips on how to make Dalgona coffee correctly, teaching Mr. US President a thing or two about garlic and turmeric, and giving you tips on surviving self-isolation. Try a mental workout to start with, here’s the Fuck Off Asana:
Danish Sait – Conversations with Friends
Danish Sait is on his phone a lot. Except his phone is a tissue box, sometimes a hairbrush, a bottle of air freshener, a shoe. Available for our viewing pleasure is a series of imagined conversations between Bangalore friends. They’re not just insightful, but also accurate as they come—a typical exchange between IPL fans, friends discussing the opening of liquor shops, trying to get family on a video call, calling up everyone you know to score maal…all in quick Vine-style edits that never lose your attention. We know these have gone viral even beyond his Instagram page because his videos and audio clips have looped back to us on assorted WhatsApp groups. And whether you like it or not, that’s the/a gold standard. Follow him on Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any future ‘conversations’.
Aamer Peeran’s badly drawn, terribly animated absurdist comic strip emerged during the lockdown and has held us in some sort of hypnotic trance-like state since. Written, illustrated and voiced over by Peeran himself, his amateur artwork and random nonsense ensure that you have no idea quite what you’re laughing at but we constantly want more? Wait, nobody snap your fingers. Follow Aamer on Instagram.