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Review: The Observational Comedy Round on Comicstaan 2 Stands Out For Kanan Gill’s Performance

By Akhil Sood 16 July 2019

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Quick Recap

We get introduced to some of the judges who’re still around from the last season, and a handful of new ones. It feels like a big deal, and everyone’s really excited and high-fiving and dance-walking and dance-sitting and shake-handing. Then we get introduced to 10 young comedians, who are competing for top prize and lots of potential cash and internet notoriety.

The theme for the episode is observational comedy—the classic “what’s the deal with…?” genre—and all the contestants are mentored by Kanan Gill, who teaches them the ins and outs. Then they all do quick sets for the judges and an audience: some old and properly workshopped, some brand new and very raw. They’re all varying degrees of decent with relatively fleshed out styles and voices, and they’re likely to improve once they have more time and better jokes.

Highlight

The first episode ends, as is format, with a quick performance by the designated mentor, Kanan Gill. His set is a riot, tracking Instagram fat-shamers, school march-pasts, creepy chief guests, uncoordinated children, and a whole bunch of other things, delivered in his typically wry style. Another thing worth looking out for is the fact that there are a bunch of new voices in the comedy circuit; given there’s a gaping hole in the industry, now seems like a good time for a new generation of comics to take centre stage.                        

On the Junk List

  1. Jokes about ‘eunuchs’. Please.
  2. That bizarre rap song that all comedians finish their set with. I’m no 2pac, but it goes something like “Thankyouthatsbeenmytimeyouvebeenalovelyaudiencemynameisblahblahblah”. Just say thank you.  
  3. There’s really no way of sugarcoating this: the Comicstaan theme song needs to go.

From The Judges’ Panel

There’s a lack of edge to the show, perhaps for reasons outlined here. The feedback is watered down; critiques barely skim the surface; nothing of real-world value is brought to light as such. It all feels very bubble-like. We suspect it has something to do with the spirit of encouragement, especially when the comedy scene in India is still so nascent. But if you’re not being brutally honest with participants, as mentors you’re doing them a disservice. As they say, catch them young, watch them grow?

Write This Down

“Observation is the life-blood of comedy. Everything in comedy comes from observations,” Kanan Gill, the mentor for the observational comedy round, explains. The daily stories you exchange outside the tapri to the unusual realisations you have while gymming…if it’s absurd, amusing or if it simply sucks, it’s a potential premise for a comedy set.

The toughest part of this genre is finding the right observation, “that’s 50% of the joke,” says Gill. But one thing to remember, the observation must largely be common to the human experience, seeing things in a way that you’ve never seen it before.

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