best indian podcasts 2020

Best Indian Podcasts

Sanjay Manaktala helped start the current comedy boom in India and created the Global Comedian podcast, which was voted by GQ Magazine as a top podcast in the country.

Kubbra was nice enough to come on my podcast sharing her story.

He currently runs the Birdy Num Num podcast, a fresh long-form content show all about inspiring the creative Indian.

Having received hundreds of thousands of listeners on his shows as well as this blog, he charts out the future of podcasting in India along with some advice on who’s currently doing it well in this country in the English space.

Want to know the top podcasts in India you should be listening to?

Podcasts in India are just getting started.

Indian Podcasts Top

America has demonstrated the power of podcasting platforms like Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher.

India is now playing as well with Saavn, Audioboom, and others. Soon the Indian players are catching on and it’s going to be a free for all.

As of February 2020, they’re now various Indian long-form podcast shows online about:

  • Bollywood talk shows and celebrity interviews
  • stand up comedy (hey that’s me!)
  • Funny Indian short stories
  • Fitness and mental health
  • Music and indie music
  • Technology and engineering
  • Entrepreneurship and Startup
  • Dating in India (me again)
  • Education
  • Lifestyle podcasts
  • Financial podcasts (there will be many more in India coming up, just watch, Sensex, nifty, CNBC, yada yada)
  • and pretty much any niche you can think of, soon to be multiplied by Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Punjabi, etc..

As the market heats up, I’m going to list some of my favorite Indian podcasts I enjoy as a millennial in this space.

Well, barely a millennial.

Note: These are podcasts I picked because they actually put out new episodes week to week.

These also aren’t Hindi podcasts because well, I hardly know of many and also, I only know English.

Well, ok, I’ll put one Hinglish podcast on the list.

What is a Podcast?

A podcast is an interview or solo audio program (although the video is often released) usually listened to on the phone. It might be a chat show, it might be news or business, but it’s usually of people discussing a topic as broad as Bollywood or as niche as fitness or Indian food.

Since podcasting is still growing in India and Pakistan and Bangladesh/Sri Lanka, it’s important to define what a podcast is for new listeners.

indian web series
My favorite free trial for a podcast service for Indian users.

the Future of Podcasts in India

In India, where internet is dirt cheap, podcasts will grow as languages like Tamil, Hindi, Punjabi, Kannada and more start podcasting for all sorts of areas. For example:

  • Uber drivers in Odisha might listen to a podcast on fishing
  • A factory owner in Rajasthan might listen to a podcast in Marwadi about making money blogging.
  • All of India in any language will listen to podcast commentary on cricket.
  • There might even be a podcast to teach you English as we saw in that Mithila Palkar movie Chopsticks
  • A housewife or househusband may listen to a podcast on cooking Italian food.
  • A YouTube makeup artist teenager in Hindi may listen to a podcast on makeup, or start one.
  • Or various English podcasts, like short stories in entertainment, Bollywood Gossip, the news, advertising like IVM podcasts have done, mental health like Dr. Shyam Bhat has started (below) etc…

Why are Podcasts in India Growing?

Spotify just came to the Indian market, Saavn and Audioboom are expanding the market in regional languages and all the other platforms are like to “bro we need to do podcasting.”

YourStory: Podcasts globally are becoming a 20 billion dollar Industry.

But nobody really “gets it” yet.

Do you feel me?

Media portals are probably just going to recycle their YouTube as audio clips or try to bank on celebrities opening up about “their struggle moving from Bandra to Colaba” or just rely on guests to keep the momentum going.


I’m still figuring it out myself. (And it ain’t pretty).

But they’re people who are genuinely trying.

And you should give them a listen to see what it’s all about. Listen in your Ola, at the gym, whatever.

It will be more productive than that 800th IPL highlight or film song.

India is hungry for intellectual and passive/long-form content other than comedy nights with Kapil, so give yourself a chance to get on board with infotainment rather than settlings for that great Hollywood movie but dubbed on Bindass.

What are the major podcast platforms in India?

As of 2019, the major podcasting platforms used today in India are:

  • Spotify
  • Apple iOS
  • Android or Google Podcast App
  • iTunes
  • Apple Watch
  • Alexa
  • Stitcher
  • Saavn
  • Audible (Free Trial)

In fact for some of my podcasts currently, if I simply look at the last 1000 plays on certain episodes, I can see about 50% are from iOS devices.

Which probably means podcasts are still not a “for the masses” product…yet.

I can also see a massive 40% of plays coming from a certain streaming platform in the last year. Can you guess which platform that is? (Comment below).

How to Start a Podcast in India

The crazy thing about podcasting that took me years to figure out is most people will quit after only getting 3 listeners, and after wasting money on gear they don’t need.

But if you’re serious to invest a year into podcasting, and want to start, you need to:

  1. Figure out a topic to talk about, whether lifestyle/motivation, finance, dating, cooking, fitness, etc… You can’t just “talk about what’s on your mind” and also nobody will listen if they can’t understand what it’s about.
  2. Plan ten episodes out. For example, if you were doing a Bollywood podcast you could write:
    • Episode 1: Why Bollywood Doesn’t have an Oscar
    • Episode 2: Latest movie Review
    • Episode 3: Thoughts on SRK Latest interview
    • etc..
  3. Record the podcast into your phone’s audio recorder. Most phones have great microphones these days in a quiet room/dining table, and if you can’t start with that, you have no business buying a professional recorder. Once you’ve got comfortable with a phone recorder, buy a Zoom H4N (Amazon) or similar device.
  4. Use free software Audacity to edit your podcast.
  5. Export final mp3 file and use freemium services like Buzzsprout or others.

Best Indian Web Series on Every Major Platform (October 2019)

ALSO SEE: How to Record Stand Up Comedy

How Long Should a Podcast Be?

Ideally, if you’re listening to a podcast of someone solo, between 10 and 30 minutes. Most interview shows are between 30 and 60 minutes, and some such as the Joe Rogan podcast go for 3 hours or more.

Podcast Hosting in India

Once you have your podcast file done, use a service like AudioBoom, or Buzzsprout to upload your podcast and share it with your friends. There will be more coming in the near future, like Saavn, Spotify and more.


So What are the Best Indian podcasts? They are:

  1. Dr. Shyam Bhat – The State of Mind
  2. Sundeep Rao – the Baby Bed Podcast
  3. Rupen Paul – the Right Room Podcast
  4. Comedian Kritarth – Walks of Life
  5. Kunal Kamra – Shut Up Ya Kunal
  6. Maed In India – Music
  7. Morcast – Interview Chat Show
  8. Cyrus Broacha – Panel on Current Events
  9. Corner Flag – Football with Indian Point Of View
  10. The Ranveer Show – Interviews
  11. Advertising Is Dead – Marketing
  12. 3 Things – Indian Express
  13. The Sandip Roy Show
  14. The Musafir Stories – Travel
  15. The Indian Startup Show – Entrepreneurship
  16. BBC’s My Indian Life – Kalki Koechlin

16 Top Indian Podcasts of 2020.

As of February 2020, these are the best Indian podcasts and why they’re on this list.

1. Dr. Shyam Bhat – the State of Mind Podcast (Mental Health)

Shyam Bhat runs the Live Love Laugh foundation with Deepika Padukone and also is one of the most well known mental health professionals in India.

His advice is so sound and his voice so smooth you won’t even realize you’re improving your life.

Why so dreamy bro? Even if you’re into an Indian spiritual type of podcast, what I love is Shyam is a doctor and doesn’t go all religion/spirits off the bat.

It’s for people who just want to get a hold of their mind, plain and simple. Especially in chaotic India.

It’s never been crazier to be a middle-class Indian, not because we’re patting ourselves on the back for being so stressed but because social media, Swiggy, Bollywood, and pitfalls of modern society have a unique impact on Indian’s that other middle classes may not. (e.g. I used to clean the house when I got stressed in America, now I just stare at my maid and also have a harder time helping myself).

Shyam also answers questions on the video comments and is highly engaging with these topics. He simplifies things like depression into something the common person can understand without fear of judgment.

2. the Baby Bed Podcast with Sundeep Rao (Explicit)

Bangalore based comedian (and my friend, disclaimer) Sundeep Rao is India’s only partially blind stand up comedian but also what a Radio voice this EX-RJ from Radio Indigo has.

I love his take on evergreen topics and he keeps guests to a minimum.

I think too many podcasts in India (mine included) rely only on guests instead of building the artists voice which takes years.

You know Bill Burr did like 500 episodes by himself before we even knew their name right?

And he would call into some phone service to record his podcast, straight up like a ghetto voicemail.

So what’s your excuse to only have guests? Podcasts are a great way to figure out your voice and communication! Sundeep’s topics aren’t always clear from the titles but listen to this episode below and you’ll likely be hooked on his candid way of speaking and his hilarious puns.

Oh the puns! One of my faves!

3. The Right Room Podcast (Interviews with Experts)

Rupen Paul has been working hard at stand up comedy in Bangalore and his Indian podcast is one of the most consistent I’ve seen.

He just started doing new episodes by himself and also reaches out to interview guests from across the world, which I love.

It’s occasionally Indian comedy lessons but also a lot of random topics like:

  • middle-class Indian problems
  • mental health,
  • hustling and working hard
  • Things people between 21 and 35 need to hear.
  • Social media addiction

4. Comedian Kritarth Srinivasan  | Walks of Life Podcast (Alternate Careers)

Kritarth is onto something with his interview series about Indian leaders doing cool careers, and as each episode is different, all I can say is you will find something is so close to home it freaks you out.

A guy who left his Green card to open up a restaurant in JP Nagar? Check.

A girl who designs cartoons after working at Infosys? Check.

Those are examples but you get the idea. Do check it out and find yourself in one of these episodes. And make sure you drop a review on iTunes or whatever platform you use that takes ratings.

5. SHUT UP YA KUNAL KAMRA (Hindi, Politics)

I’m happy to see somebody who doesn’t care about money and fame (I think) getting success in doing something so natural.

Although I personally am not into politics these days, because I think we no longer consume news, we consume anxiety, it’s nice to see someone take the mainstream on its head and do exactly what podcast is meant for…long form honest content with hardly any crazy edits.

As Kunal is having a great year and an even better diet, (see us together on this podcast while it’s up), I’m happy to see real conversations with figures the media keeps poisoning our perception of.

Also Read: Best Indian Shows on Amazon Prime

Also Read: Best Indian Shows on Netflix

6. Maed in India | Mae Mariam Thomas (Music)

Added July 12th, 2019: I’ve known Mae since the early days of comedy clubs in Mumbai. She’s a heavyweight voice in the radio scene with a long history and an amazing personality that always has a smile on her face.

You light up the room dude! I know it’s been some years but glad to see you grinding!

India’s Indie music scene also has it’s own quips and quirks, where mainstream success alludes a lot of people but at the same time, brands and those who “are in” love to be part of the cool subculture.

Mae seems to blend both in this rapidly growing podcast that I’ve been hearing so much about. Reminds me of KEXP YouTube with an Indian twist and I love it and hope it grows (along with my own LOL).

7. Morcast (Chat Show)

Anshu Mor is an older comedian who started later in life, but I’ve been observing his grind the last few years.

He works harder than most younger guys and this podcast is evident of how hard he’s trying.

He has a nice style and candid demeanor and I see a future Atul Khatri in the making. (I mean that as a compliment, not an insult LOL).

Keep it up bro. This episode with Kubra Sait opening up about working in the Bollywood Industry, Sacred Games, her journey and so on is honestly what podcasting is all about.

Long-form honest content that is both vulnerable and unfiltered and highly engaging.

8. Cyrus Broacha Says (Panel)

Hello Hello Cyrus. Please also let other people speak though.

I love this because he’s been at before it was cool and continues to just do his thing despite all his other media commitments. This Indian news and pop-culture podcast talks about everything under the sun and it’s quite engaging to hear them all go at it. (That’s another trick with podcasting, is to learn how to not step on each other’s conversations).

I personally don’t think podcasts in India need to have the full studio setup (you can hack studio sound in your dining room if you learn what you’re doing) but regardless, it’s great how they jump right into whatever topics and guests. I see you, Abbas, also.

Most entertainers who try to do podcasts don’t realize it’s gotta be raw, casual and metaphorically in your chaddis and I just love the tone they took in the studio with buddies hanging out.

RANT: What annoys me the most is people who try to start podcasts and gel their hair and treat it like some super fake/produced show. Ufff. I don’t need to see fairy lights in the background at 1.8 aperture with Ananya Pandey telling me what she ate for breakfast. Podcasts should feel honest and intimate or casual, not put on as a marketing exercise. I don’t care about Quinoa Shilpa Shetty.

That’s not podcasting! (But it still gets views…sigh).

Find a cool topic that’s at least somewhat interesting and drill into some honesty!

Ok rant over, check out this clip from Cyrus Says which is also by one of the main podcast studios in Mumbai, IVM podcasts. I hope things pick up in this medium! (LOL and I hope a good chunk stays in English for those of us who only communicate in that).

But even if more Hindi podcasts catch wind I guess that’s a good thing overall. As they do, you’ll start seeing your Uber driver listening to a chat show about India’s next space mission, or maybe your maid listen to someone talk alternative careers. The scope will be quite cool!

Speaking of Being Honest about yourself, If You Care What People Think, Think again.


9. The Corner Flag (FOOTBALL)

Indian fans of the European and Worldwide football can rejoice in this chat show about sports with comedian Amogh Ranadive.

If you like hearing commentary on the latest Premiere league (or other) antics with an Indian twist this might just be the Indian chat show for you. I personally don’t follow sports at all (not even Cricket, sorry) but if you enjoy hour long discussions on the latest sports gossip give it a go!

10. The Ranveer Show

Popular YouTuber BeerBiceps who I discovered through my buddy BeYouNick (another funny sketch channel) initially started as a fitness channel but is not moving into longer form content about unique stories and life advice.

He has naturally collaborated with others in the YouTube space but now also interviews people who have unique Indian stories about money, entertainment, finding your passions and more.

11. Advertising Is Dead

Varun Duggirala discusses all things marketing in this podcast about advertising, digital India, marketing, agency life and a bunch of other topics that those in the ad worlds of Ogilvy and the like would enjoy.

It was also Ogilvy who said that your headline is 80 cents on your dollar and these guys know that with engaging episode titles that will surely make you want to listen!

12. 3 Things – The Indian Express Podcast

Wow, over 600 episodes! But thanks to being in the news genre there is always content and these folks deliver on a daily episode that either recaps the news or goes deep on a few key Indian stories.

In a time of dwindling journalism and unethical media it’s nice to see some folks still grounded in educating the country on what matters! While still recognizing most of us only have the patience for three things!

13. The Sandip Roy Show

Another gem from the Indian express from a veteran journalist trying to make sense of the good parts of the world in another wise crowded and noisy world.

Intelligent conversations with engaging momentum. Perfect for the weights after the treadmill or on those one hour Delhi to Mumbai flights!

14. The Musafir Stories

India has so much to see it’s a shame most poeple just go to the Taj Mahal and bounce.

This is one of the best Indian travel podcasts whether you’re a mountain baby or just a city dweller looking for some audio relief and travel ideas.

15. The Indian Startup Show

UK based NRI Neil Patel talks to key Indian people from across the world doing interesting things in entertainment, finance, startups and pretty much anything non-conventional.

If you’re looking for a podcast on Indian entrepreneurs this is it and it’s updated pretty frequently.

16. BBC and Kalki Koechlin – My Indian Life

YouTube comments are a little polarizing depending on the topic but a well produced show makes for an interesting intersection of society and East meets West with a well known name in Bollywood.

Kalki Koechlin is well known in the cinema circles and also on newer progressive topics, and it’s easy to see why here.


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Best Indian Web Series on All Major Platforms

Any other podcasts you want on this list I don’t know about?

What do you personally think are the best podcast to listen to in India? Or even in South Asia?

Do comment below or DM me on Instagram and I’ll have a look.

But ideally, comment so I know you read this. I simply ask that these podcasts are updated regularly.

If you really want to chat, also tell me WHY these podcasts are interesting (e.g. more than just they talk to Bollywood celebs).

Happy listening!

Sanjay Manaktala is one of the top stand up comedians in India who started building the comedy community in the country back in 2010. Since then his stand up comedy videos and podcasts have helped millions laugh or get motivated. His latest effort is the Birdy Num Num podcast, helping you learn creativity in life after engineering. You can learn about Sanjay here or check out his YouTube channel here.

best south indian stand up comedy videos youtube

Top South Indian Stand Up Comedians

Did you know Indian stand up comedy gained a lot of early traction and growth in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai?  

South India hasn’t always been “as cool” as Mumbai or Delhi, however when it comes to the arts, many film stars, actors, and now even comedians learn their talent here and then go abroad when demand calls.  

best south indian stand up comedy
Bflat in Bangalore was one of the best stand up comedy clubs in India and Indiranagar.

Even many of the top Indian comedians who work in Bollywood and movies or have Amazon and Netflix specials do a lot of their recordings and writing in Bangalore and Chennai because that’s where they’ll get the best response. 

Try cracking jokes about Narcos or Rajinikanth to a bunch of factory uncles in Ludhiana and see if they really care. 

South Indian Stand Up Comedy

Thanks to: 

  • the internet, 
  • YouTube comedy videos 
  • and social media apps like Instagram and Facebook, 

stand up comedy growth in India owes a lot to the South Indian comedy market and audiences. 

People in Bangalore and the South usually are more open to other languages and dialects and understand everything, from Hollywood woke boy references to the latest Rajnikanth meme or joke.  

As a result, it’s a fantastic place to watch Indian stand up comedians go from nothing to something.  Even though most of Indian stand up comedy viewership seems to be going to Hindi comedy, there is still a lot of room to diversify and find your niche.

I’ve been in Bangalore since 2010 and pushed a lot of the comedy scene here, so now that it’s maturing and everybody wants to be a comic, I thought I’d simply list out some of the best performers so you can get a sense of the market. 

South Indian Comedy Clubs

In addition, thanks to comedy clubs like the Spotted Hyena in Chennai and Urban Solace in Bangalore, comedy is continuing to thrive from the ground up and you can see your favorite big time comedians at many local pubs and restaurants.

Feel free to check out of any of these comedians on BookMyShow or their relative Facebook and YouTube pages and do comment your thoughts on the same. 

Best South Indian Stand Up Comedians

These are some of the top comics who either live in South Indian cities like Bangalore or Chennai, or are Tamilian, Kannadiga, Telugu, etc…  

1. Comedian Praveen Kumar | Tamil Stand Up Comedy and Movie Reviews

Comedian Praveen is famous for being the flag-bearer of Biryani, as you can see from this video which got 12 million views only about Biryani. 

I’m in this video too along with Ahmed Sharrif.

Imagine.  12 million views on a song about chicken and rice.

He also since shifted to Tamil stand up comedy and movie reviews and has found an even better following in his native tongue. 

His one hour live Tamil comedy show called 36 Vayadhiniley just crossed 3 million views…one a one hour regional live recording!

If you’re a fan of middle-class family friendly comedy from a nice guy who does jokes that are veg (however from a strictly non-veg kind of guy) you’ll love his stuff. 

2. Karthik Kumar | Author Actor Comic and Entrepreneur

Stand up comic Karthik Kumar founded Evam Stand Up Tamasha, which is the longest running comedy collective in the country based in Chennai. 

They produce shows, have an office and continue to push out content in Tamil, English, and host Hindi comics as and when the frequent Chennai.  

Karthik himself is also a very versatile performer who has done a few comedy specials and also wrote a book right around the same time I did!  

His comedy specials Poke Me and Blood Chutney were some of the first Amazon Prime Video Stand up comedy specials and he continues to tour and perform comedy all over the world.  

He’s one of the most popular South Indian stand up comedians. 

3. Aravind SA | South Indian Stand Up Comedian Spokesperson

Aravind SA is arguably one of the best selling South Indian comedians who does shows across India, Singapore, Malaysia and of course the USA and Australia to primarily his Tamil fan base.  

His comedy specials “I Was not Ready DA” and “Madrasi Da” gave him the lead voice on Hindi imposition, being South Indian and having Chennai and Tamil Nadu pride. 

As a result, it’s done very well for his videos and his comedy career. He used to work with Evam but now does a lot of live shows on his own or with independent producers. 

4. Alexander Babu | Musical Genius

Musical comedian and talented vocal artist Alex just put his latest Amazon Prime Comedy special called Alex in Wonderland and wow was it received well. 

Alex mixes musical nuances of Tamil cinema and being Tamilian with various other aspects of pop culture and family life. 

This makes for a highly entertaining performance that usually drives the South Indian audiences wild. 

Alex also sells like anything overseas and it will be exciting to see what the future has in store. 

5. Saikiran | Fair and Funny

The beauty of comedy especially in India is no matter how long or how senior you are, the audience is king. 

Consistency is queen.

One such name who as far as I know has wowed the audiences with just one video is Saikiran with this clip:

As an English and Telugu comedian Sai seems very intelligent and clever and I look forward to seeing his next video.  Pressure is on bro, all the best and very funny video below!  

Imagine getting 180,000 subscribers on one video!  Our comedy scene is crazy right now!

6. Vamsidhar Bhogaraju | Telugu English Stand Up Comedian

I’m waiting for Vamsidhar to break out as a comedy star, because he’s one of the funniest comics in India but just hasn’t really cracked yet. 

He is from Andhra and does comedy primarily in English with a bit of Kannada comedy, but his mimicry, theater skills and acting is just top notch. 

Although this clip on Swiggy never went viral (and I edited it), I hope one day it relaunches and does big things.  

7. Suhas Navarathna | Being Kannadiga

I almost forgot to add this young guy to the list but I’m proud that he has made this bit work and work well, with 500,000+ views about being from Karnataka.

Way to go buddy, way to make the Bangalore stand up comedy scene proud!

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So who are the best South Indian stand up comedians? To recap, they are (in no particular order):

  • Alexander Babu
  • Aravind SA
  • Karthik Kumar
  • Comedian Praveen Kumar
  • SaiKiran
  • Vamsidhar Bhogaraju
  • Suhas Navarathana

I’m also looking to update this list with new faces so if you have any favorites please do comment below with their names and videos and my team will have a look!

Sanjay Manaktala is one of the top stand up comedians in India who started building the comedy community in the country back in 2010. Since then his stand up comedy videos and podcasts have helped millions laugh or get motivated. His latest effort is the Birdy Num Num podcast, helping you learn creativity in life after engineering. You can learn about Sanjay here or check out his YouTube channel here.

How To Write Stand Up Comedy Jokes

How To Write Jokes and Stand Up Comedy

Stand up comedy continues to be on the rise, thanks to Netflix, YouTube, Instagram and pretty much all of social media. 

The appeal of not requiring vocal or musical talent, being the only star on stage and the draw of “anybody can do it” makes all of us wonder how to be a comedian. 

Sanjay Manaktala BBC
Jokes can cross borders, cross genders and more practically…great delivery delivers a great message. This was on BBC but there was nobody in the crowd.

However, as with anything in life, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.  

You can 100% become a stand-up comedian, but if you want to make a living, you’d probably have an easier time in medical school. 

The good news is that we’ll cover just one aspect in this post, which is how to write jokes and comedy writing rather than the much harder question of how to have a career in stand up comedy which I also covered a year back and continues to get a lot of nice messages, so thanks for that.

How to Write jokes? Joke writing is all about surprises, originality, and oftentimes relatability.  They’re various forms, techniques and types of comedy that jokes can take. Puns, act outs, impressions, sarcasm, one-liners, rule of three, storytelling, callbacks and more.

Ultimately if you remember to surprise your audience in a clever way and try to make it ABOUT THEM, you’ll probably be fine.

Let’s Set It Up

Before we just dump a million joke examples on you as many comedy blogs do, let’s understand why you want to write jokes in whatever stage of life you’re in. 

Richard is the leader on R/standupshots with 70K upvotes on this pic and I can vouch for him that this joke works live ALL THE TIME.

You can easily reverse engineer jokes and your favorite bits from all-star comedians, but that’s like learning how to drive in a Formula 1 race car when you first need to just get to your job in a Honda Civic.  

Also before you read on…there is no better experience than getting off your butt and going to the open mic to see how jokes are responded to live.  I’ve had things retweeted 1,000 times but trying that joke on stage got crickets.  

Remember, comedians create jokes but not all jokes are created by comedians.  That joke in your office or funny forward isn’t something a comic can or will do on stage, so yes, knowing how to write jokes isn’t exactly the same as how to write stand up comedy, and we’ll cover the differences also. 

Why You Want to Learn How to Write an Original Joke

It’s no secret that after sex, humor is the number one seller.  

Whether you want to spice up that boring office presentation, break the ice on a date or just blog/write about things in your industry (gaming, technology, finance, marketing, real estate) with a humorous tone, using comedy is a great way to do it.  

Comedy and humor is a skill that everybody should learn because even if you have no aspirations to spend half your life in dingy open mic bars, you can use that skill to improve your public speaking, kill it in sales or learn how to grab and hold people’s attention in a world where that’s the most important.  

And grabbing their attention is half the battle. 

I’ve seen million dollar Google engineers who were smarter than Bill Gates lose a room explaining billion-dollar technologies that were going to change the world. 

I’ve also seen party-crazy frat boys captivate 100 PHDs on an IDIOTIC piece of social media software because they simply know how to communicate in an effective way. 

Jokes are a great way to fix these problems because again…they grab attention but also grab confidence. 

Types of Comedy

The various types of comedy you see in 2019 include:

  • Stand Up Comedy
  • Improv
  • Sketch Comedy Live
  • Sketch Comedy (YouTube, Instagram, etc..)
  • TV Sitcom
  • Film
  • Late Night Talk Shows (monologue, current events, panel with guests)
  • Vlog

While all of these are formats of comedy, they all leverage basic joke structure.  Even a silly meme like “When just actually just wants to Netflix and Chill” of a dog not getting any attention or whatever is a joke about the bedroom, rejection, whatever.  

Do You Need to Be Inherently Funny to be a Comedian?

I know that sounds ironic or obvious but not necessarily.  

Is your baby or dog or fraternity friend puking in the corner funny? Of course.  

Is that going to be funny for a group of strangers on vacation on a cruise ship? Probably not.  

Some great comedians are duds off stage and joke writing for the public is actually a craft that takes dedication and patience.  So while yes, being funny naturally helps, translating that to the stage and performance takes time. 

Gary Gulman is one of my favorites and even has a new special out about depression. But look at any of his tweets and you’ll see he’s very hardworking and methodical about the words, the cadence, the craft and much more.

They’re probably 1/1000 people who are just naturally gifted and who are “just a natural.”  But it’s very rare. 

So How Do You Write Jokes?

Steve Jobs said simplicity is the most complex, so I thought long and hard on how to narrow down the key steps to getting you into making those writing exercises less exercise and more routine.

1. Pick a Topic for your Material

Yes, your joke has to be about something.  

Donald Trump, Your Childhood, Working in an office, Working in an Investment Bank, Working at Google, Dating, Your Date Last week, Tinder (yawn),  Being Chinese, whatever…you need a topic.  

In order to give your joke a good chance, try to pick a topic in an area you know (e.g. your family, your work, your career, whatever but that anybody could understand) 

A lot of comedians think they can go out there and riff, or just do crowd work, or dress well and talk about easy things. No-no-no.  

Just like every film needs a story and plot, you at least need topics.  Even short one-liner comics like the late Mitch Hedberg and others had entire topics in seemingly tiny sentences. 

If you talk about people who don’t really get talked about, you can find new comedic ground to cover.

Pro Tip: One of the best ways to stand out early in your comedy joke writing is to write about topics people don’t talk about, but is probably 100% known and relatable. 

I made a good chunk of my career talking about working in Information Technology.

I don’t expect 300 million Americans or 1 Billion Indians to enjoy hearing software humor, but I could grab a large chunk of 50 million software engineers and that’s just fine with me. 

Chances are if you simply need to learn how to write comedy for your office or presentation, picking a topic your audience knows but nobody else does is a great way to connect (e.g. that clunky payroll system, the company CEO’s hobbies, a recent news event in your Industry). 

2. Look for an angle on the topic that people haven’t thought of before. 

Jokes are all about the reader or audience not expecting the punchline. 

Whether it’s a tweet, a live performance, and heck even a meme or Instagram story, it has to be unique enough for someone to appreciate the uniqueness of it all. 

These days everybody knows the late-night punchlines of Donald Trump is sexist or George Bush was dumb or whatever.  But what else is there about him that could still surprise an audience? 

  • What if he’s actually super smart? 
  • What are his kids like? 
  • Maybe his wife is the real brains? 
  • What do world leaders think of him? 
  • Maybe you voted for him? Why? Why not? 

Try to reverse what pop culture says, because your goal is for your reader or audience to not see it coming. 

  • We get that on Tinder everybody is ghosting. 
  • Or that black people are like this and white people are like that.  
  • Or it’s tough to be single or all the men in Hollywood don’t like you. 

There was a time when those topics were fresh and new, but now you have to find new topics to spin a humorous angle on. 

Once you have a topic, like growing up poor or being bad with women…try to write everything you find amusing or ironic or strange about that.  

You’ll probably write down 100 things and one of them will work on stage. 

Welcome to comedy. 

But if you know that your first 100 jokes will have a 1% success rate, is sets the expectation and makes the future a lot easier, rather than spending a day and quitting after one open mic. 

For example… let’s write down anything without judgment until something at least makes us smirk. 

I’m so bad with women that…

  • Tinder gave me a refund. 
  • Tinder said “don’t bother.” 
  • The waiter asked my date if she was at the right table. 
  • The extremists made me one of the 72 virgins. 
  • I work in HR and I’m still single. 

Again, the point isn’t to judge these jokes but to start dumping all the first thoughts out of the way so you can make room and really warm up your creative muscles. 

Growing up poor is:

  • Fine with social media.  I just photoshop myself at the beach. 
  • Ironic when you have siblings.  That first kid was a $200,000 expense.  Great, let’s have another. 
  • A lot of pressure.  It’s like your parents had you thinking…let’s name him “Return on Investment.” 
  • making six figures in San Francisco.

Growing up rich is tough because…

  • You guys have to find your dreams.  I have to find my boat. 
  • Everybody expects you to pick up the tab.  I mean I can..but like…
  • Does she like me for me, or my money, or…? 
  • (I clearly didn’t grow up rich so I really have no clue about it)

3. Setup and Punchline

The beauty of working hard on a unique, ironic or surprising angle is that you may have already completed the joke.  

What’s the traditional definition of a joke?

A setup or premise and a punchline. 

Even if a comedian tells a long 5-minute story there are probably a bunch of mini setup/punchline combinations also building onto a bigger setup and punchline.

Don’t over-engineer it.  Setups are the topics or situations and punchlines are the delivery or payoff. 

Once you’ve made sure your joke has a payoff for the reader or audience, you can go ahead and test them out at the open mic, Toastmasters, a public speaking group in your area, or even on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram stories and social media. 

4. Memorize Your Jokes (for live comedy)

If you’re going to perform as a comedian or use jokes in your speech or presentation, you NEED to remember your joke so you nail down your delivery and timing.  

What nobody ever tells you is that some comedians are way better at delivery and performing than the actual joke itself when read on paper and often times audiences may not even know the difference.  

So if you want to make sure your joke has an adequate swing much like going for a home run with a fastball straight down the middle, make sure you deliver it well.  The simplest way to do that is too simply memorize the ten to fifteen jokes you want to try, and deliver with them conviction. 

Otherwise, reading them off an index card when nobody knows you ruins the confidence of your audience and jokes that had potential get wasted away. 

5. Deploy and Test

I feel bad for the creatives of years past because they had to wait for somebody to tell them if they were funny or a good writer or could sell well.  

In today’s world, gatekeepers still exist (and many, such as major comedy club booker or late night booker are still valuable in knowing what works for their format) but the public’s reaction is king. 

Look at how the Rotten Tomatoes scores of Dave Chappelle’s latest special differed between the people who “hold the keys to good reviews” and well, the ticket-buying public. 

If the critics are also way off, wouldn’t an ad executive, or a filmmaker, or a company CEO who slowly sees his company get disrupted by a new technology? 

The point I’m trying to make is, you need to get your jokes out there now and see what sticks.  But don’t give up too early. 

Stephen King had tons of GREAT books passed on before he found a publisher who wanted to get him in front of eyeballs, and then destiny took over. 

Just cause your joke got one like, it may not be so bad if Facebook didn’t show it to anybody or you have no followers on Twitter who saw it. 

There are no hard and fast rules, but if your joke gets a laugh consistently over 5-10 live tellings or gets a lot of love on social media (especially from strangers), it will likely get a laugh in your comedy future or presentation or movie or sketch.

As you continue writing about your life or topics of interest, you’ll start to clumb all those dating jokes together into a 4 minute bit on dating, and use the two lines about realizing you were gay as your introduction, or whatever.  

6. Cut the Fat

In comedy, less is definitely more.  A common mistake people make when writing jokes is to include unnecessary details. 

I grew up in Minnesota, we had a small blue house.  It’s so cold there in the winters. We were poor. The landlord came to evict us but the house was so bad nobody took it over.” 

Why do I care that the house is blue?  Is Minnesota really required? Either find a funny twist on why you mentioned Minnesota or just start the joke from “we were poor.” 

Once you test out your jokes (after memorizing) a good chunk of joke writing is actually joke editing and trust me, comedians are constantly removing and adding things to their material to make it tight and funny.

Belly laughs (or some comics like to go on jokes per minute) is a great way to keep the laughter rolling and that takes years of editing and timing to master.

Common Misconceptions

There’s a lot in this post that I’m sure comedians who are one to five years in want to say, but again…this is just the training wheels of joke writing.

There’s no point playing to the back of the room if you can’t confidently hold an audience’s attention no matter how meta or clever your bit is.

1. I just want to be a comedy writer for TV.  This stuff is hacky or lame. Kay and Peele don’t do that. 

Don’t they?  

Again, the point of this article isn’t to get you a Netflix special, it’s to teach you the ABC’ or how to dribble and make a free throw.  

Once you learn the basics you can build and build and build or start doing crossovers and nailing half-court shots.  

But whether it’s a sketch about “how guys can’t call their girl a b**ch” or Alec Baldwin doing a bit on Trump, the jokes are there once you dig under the hood. 

2. What are the comedy writing secrets?

There are no secrets to writing comedy just like there’s no secrets to getting rich.  However, they’re definitely shortcuts and more effective ways that a lot of comedians don’t do.  

Leveraging (rather than scoffing at) social media, keeping a schedule, putting down the beer, avoiding easy crowd work (I’m guilty) are all the tools you can do to polish your jokes sooner and sooner. 

3. Are comedy classes worth it?

I’ve never taken a comedy class, but I did take a sketch writing class with one of the Kay and Peele writers a few years ago and I’d do it again.  

Did I learn anything crazy new or turn my career around?  Not really.  

But for the price of 15 beers over my next 3 open mics I got to meet people, put discipline on my writing for 8 Sundays in a row and spend my money on things that pushed me towards my goals rather than pointless movies or drinks.  

My main beef with comedy classes (and blogs, which is why I tried to write this a bit differently) is that they use part of your fee have you all perform in a comedy club at the end.  

You walk out into the world with a tape of your 5 minutes and a great crowd, but when you join the real front lines of comedy you realize nobody cares and the crowds aren’t like all your peers in that class. 

So if you recognize that and have the time, I would 100% give it a shot probably just ONCE.

If nothing else, comedy classes are a great way to force you to write your first 100 jokes because we all know you’re not going to do that on your own. 


The hardest thing with writing comedy and creating jokes is the same as starting any new hobby or skill. 

Where do you begin? 

When I started making YouTube videos, I was so caught up with the type of Camera I wanted and reading 100 Amazon reviews, I didn’t realize lenses were more important than cameras, and content was more important than both.  

Then learning to be comfortable on screen, editing, understanding data, figuring out a routine, etc.. Ultimately, if your content is good, (or your joke funny), people will laugh.  

Joke writing is the boring and hard part, but it’s also the part that is over-engineered, over-analyzed and when many of us get success, the most overlooked.  

Your brain uses more energy thinking than you might do at the gym, which is why most comedians give up after writing for 20-40 minute a day/week.  

Are there other ways to write jokes? 

Of course. 

Is there only one way to write jokes? 

Of course not.  

I read Comedy Bible by Judy Carter when I first started and then, later on, I figured out what I wanted to pick and choose from the 100 other books out there.  

I hope this article does the same for you.  

If nothing else, write 10 jokes and keep them aside for a rainy day. 

Happy writing! 

Sanjay Manaktala is one of the top stand up comedians in India who started building the comedy community in the country back in 2010. Since then his stand up comedy videos and podcasts have helped millions laugh or get motivated. His latest effort is the Birdy Num Num podcast, helping you learn creativity in life after engineering. You can learn about Sanjay here or check out his YouTube channel here.

best hindi stand up comedy videos

Best Indian Stand Up Comedians (2020)

Indian stand-up comedy continues to gain popularity in India and worldwide as local and NRI audiences realize TV shows aren’t keeping up with what the modern country wants.

From just 15 comedians in 2010 to well over 200 in 2019, it seems everybody you know is changing their DP into a picture of them holding a microphone at the open mic.

Thanks to Facebook and YouTube and insanely priced internet access, Indian stand up comedy is also at the forefront of entertainment.

Amazon Prime and Netflix are also looking at comedy closely as a way to continue to buy market share of the middle-class Indian consumer. It’s insanely cheap to spend on a Amazon Prime comedy special that produce a web series or a movie.

But how do you decide who to watch and what flavor is right for you? Which one is the funniest Indian comedian?

In a country as diverse as India where Hindi is king, the numbers clearly favor the Hindi comics. However, in years to come, we will continue to see a diversification of comedy in English, Tamil, Kannada, Punjabi and who knows what else.

But in the meantime, since YouTube doesn’t really allow you to sort the biggest videos, here’s a quick list of the most viewed Indian stand up comedians I know from being in the scene.

Best Stand Up Comedians From India in 2019 (Hindi)

The list below is based on the videos/artists I know of in the comedy space by YouTube views. If I missed anybody let me know. They’re plenty of other great Indian comedians in English, Tamil, Kannada and more.

Updated View counts: November 2019

So who are the best stand up comedians in India in 2019?

1. Zakir Khan

This video from the AIB Diwas festival in Mumbai arguably launched Zakir Khan into the mainstream.

Although it was hardly an overnight success and Zakir had been at it for years, the timing of his talent and exposure lined up nicely from this point onwards.

42M Views on Zakir talking about women!

It’s easy to see why Zakir and Abhishek continue to be thought of as the best Indian stand up comedians because wow, they’re blowing the numbers out of the water. You probably also know Zakir from his Amazon Prime Haq Se Single special.

Continuing his hot streak from the same show, Zakir follows up by giving his fans more of what they wanted. Girls check, exams and studies check. Middle class comedy has never been so relatable to the Indian audiences.

Another 32M views here.

Zakir eventually used these videos as a way to launch into the Great Indian Laughter challenge. He also used the phrase Sakth Launda which means to be a kind of flirtatious, non committing guy.

Taking home the gold, silver, and bronze in most viewed Hindi stand up comedian, Zakir keeps at it in this clip from Canvas laugh club in Mumbai.

2. Abhishek Upamanyu

Speaking of Canvas Laugh Club, the largest comedy club in India also launched the careers of many of the comics on this list. Unfortunately it shut down but hopefully, it opens soon, because of the number of views featuring its branding is insane.

One such name you probably know is Abhishek Upmanyu who along with Zakir probably has the most views of any Hindi stand up artist across the world.

How many of you knew Abhishek also worked at Bain and quit that to enter the comedy world? How much talent and luck can one person have!

Respecting elders, questioning Indian middle-class society and more is all great in this clip from Canvas yet again.

50M views on these two videos, a great debut effort.

India loves it’s YouTube, and there is one other Tube that probably gets most of its traffic from the subcontinent. Abhishek gives us insights into both.

Anybody who’s stepped outside in India knows the beauty of dealing with strangers.

Now that both Canvas comedy clubs have shut, the new big player with a very recognizable backdrop is the Indie Habitat in Mumbai.

Another very popular cultural reference in India is about the TV shows we all watch, and Abhishek continues to reference the right topics with the right jokes.

The comedy club is a great space to record and has probably taken over the Indian YouTube’s stand up comedy subconscious with its instantly recognizable backdrop. If you see a thumbnail from here, you will assume the quality is fairly decent.

3. Anubhav Bassi

The craziest thing about stand up comedy in India is that nobody has a linear career.

Another 21M view debut. How many other performers do you know who have one video and 300K subscribers?

This is not like engineering or medicine where the longer you work, the higher you are. Thanks to YouTube and proper timing, this video from a guy I never heard of (at the time) shows if you work hard on your sets for a few years and then time it right, good things can happen.

But they’re no short cuts, and I’m sure he’s also a gifted storyteller or communicator. But this funny video on exams and cheating and so on shows you also have to hit the right notes for Indian audiences (e.g. school, girls, middle-class life, etc..).

In comedy having a unique voice also helps. The term is often overused, but basically some comedians (ahem) take years to find their style, while others seem to have it naturally. In Bassi’s case it seems to the be the second. Well done!

4. Manik Mahna

Similar to Bassi above, if you hit the right notes, have good jokes, a good audience and get a good recording with good audio, good things can happen.

Manik Mahna is another name who has nearly 400K subscribers with just two videos. In stand up comedy talking about school, classmates, engineering, girls, families and much more can be considered evergreen content, and I’m sure these videos will keep the fans coming for years to come.

Another great success that shows the democracy of talent in the age of YouTube.

5. Kunal Kamra

Speaking of democracy, Kunal Kamra burst onto the scene by giving Habitat its first big viral video as well as himself with Patriotism and Government.

He had been performing at Canvas Laugh Club in Mumbai for years before then.

He continues to troll the Modi supporters, mainstream media and pretty much anyone in government with his comedy and has a very popular Instagram page.

While I personally am looking for Kunal to talk about dating or his personal challenges (weight loss maybe?) his success proves that sometimes doubling down on a niche (family, dating, politics, Indian society, engineering) might be a good way to craft your space in an increasingly crowded Indian comedy world.


6. Amit Tandon

Amit Tandon is one of the few folks on this list who has been doing stand up comedy since 2010. Lucky for him Facebook has been a huge boom and being a personal friend of mine, I have no bias noting him down here. This video on Facebook currently has 18M views and gets traction daily.

Amit likes to discuss clean comedy topics related to family and kids. You’re not going to see him ripping a joke on Modi or Rahul Gandhi, but more so on middle class nuances and family dynamics. He’s one of the best Indian stand up comedians from Delhi and in India generally, and also one of the highest paid corporate comics.

Clean comedy pays off folks!

7. Aditi Mittal

Aditi Mittal is another name in the Indian stand up comedy scene who’s views also matches her work ethic. With 10M views on this clip alone, it’s easy to see why her comedy is both hilarious and required in the growing comedy market that is India.

Aditi jokes about general Indian life, dating, women’s issues, middle class family dynamics and a host of other relatable topics.

8. Sundeep Sharma

Sundeep Sharma is kind of a “slacker” comedian that works too hard for it to actually be true. His style is very casual and confused with the world.

Rising to fame strictly on the back of YouTube and WhatsApp, it’s glad to see him getting the success he deserves.

9. Nishant Tanwar aka Joke Singh

Unliked the clean comedic stylings of Mr. Tandon, Nishant Tanwar is quite the opposite. His Amazon special is called “I’m from Delhi Mother FU****” and you can guess what those asterisks spell out.

Regardless, Joke Singh deserves much of his recent success.

7M views as of November 2019. Update your Thumbnail bro!

He is one of the hardest working guys in the scene, who has traveled the world trying to figure out his comedy zone.

Thanks to a switch to Hindi and consistent uploads, he’s hit it big by focusing on quick comedy content and catering to his audience.

Nishant is proof that you don’t need to have crazy camera quality to get popular in the Indian stand up comedy scene, as his earlier viral clips were shot simply on an iPhone.

Amazon Prime Indian Stand Up Comedy Specials

Most Indian stand up comedy in the future will focus on Hindi and Tamil as the streaming platforms look at what’s working on YouTube.

While we don’t know the numbers from Amazon or Netflix, or even comments to see what the audiences are enjoying, you can easily determine that based on promotions and what’s happening on the Prime Video home screen.

If you’d like us to list out the most well known Amazon Prime Indian stand up comedy specials do comment and we’ll throw in our recommendations.


Read Next: Best Indian Podcasts (In English)

Best Bollywood Movies on Amazon Prime

Ten Mistakes Indian Stand Up Comics Make (for comedian hopefuls)

Best Stand Up Comedians On Netflix

Did I miss any on this list?

I hope we see more diversity both from male/female perspective as well as a language perspective, but it’s no secret that just like Bollywood, India loves its Hindi comedy.

What are your favorites?

Any other stand up comedians or funny Hindi videos (that would qualify as stand up) missing?

Sanjay Manaktala is one of the top (ENGLISH) stand up comedians in India who started building the comedy community in the country back in 2010. Since then his stand up comedy videos and podcasts have helped millions laugh or get motivated. His latest effort is the Birdy Num Num podcast, helping you learn creativity in life after engineering. You can learn about Sanjay here or check out his YouTube channel here.

Podcast Guide for the Zoom H4N Pro | Settings and How To Use

As a stand-up comedian, I find it silly how so many people over-analyze their podcast. 

Just like a YouTuber that knows about light and shadow can use an iPhone to make a killer video, I don’t get why we need to go into crazy fancy studios to record a podcast that at first will be heard by 4 people

For solo podcasts, all you need is a tiny tripod or stack of books and the zoom to tilt up towards your face. 1L bottle is shown for scale, windscreen helps make the sound a little more studio-like. Tripod is Manfrotto but you can use any tabletop tripod for like $25. See YouTube link below using this setup.

When you get to 1,000 downloads, by all means, you can up your game but most people put so many hurdles in front of them instead of just talking about interesting stuff and getting comfortable on the mic.

People who start podcasting will first do unnecessary things like:

  • setting a meeting time with their co-host,
  • booking a studio,
  • buying what Joe Rogan uses,
  • stressing on technicals,
  • spending months chasing down one guest
  • hiring an editor when they are one tutorial away from doing it themselves,
  • and not realizing that before all of that they need to know that content is king, distribution is queen and she wears the pants.

I had about 250,000 listens on my first Soundcloud podcast (now acquired by Audible), done in my living room and dining table and I probably got 4 messages in TOTAL over 7 years about echo or background noise. 

However…since most people will ignore what I just said and think that gear is everything, the good news is that you can STILL record your podcast near radio or studio-quality audio at home.  Often times in a room that isn’t even soundproof, assuming you know what you’re doing. 

And if you know what you’re doing, you’ll likely come across the Zoom H4N.  

You’ll get 90% of studio-quality sound for $200 as opposed to $20,000 and nobody on YouTube or iTunes would really know the difference. 

Note: I’m using the original H4N in this post which is pretty much the same as the H4N Pro, so this tutorial should work fine. If you find a difference comment it below but the menu items and form factor are pretty much identical.

What is the Zoom H4N PRO?

What is the Zoom H4N? The Zoom H4N is one of the best 4 track audio recorders on the market but also one of the ugliest and most confusing, non-stylish digital recording products out there.  

Everything it offers has a purpose, but it’s definitely not plug and play and has zero design appeal when first looking at it.

You need the manual and THEN some to really understand how to use the thing, even in a simple configuration.  

But once you figure it out, boy is it extreme bang for your buck. 

It’s one of the industry-standard sound recorders, used for: 

  • indie film production, 
  • live recordings, 
  • VLogs
  • music recordings and of course…
  • podcasting.  

In fact, I think it’s amazing for podcasting BUT I had no clue how to use it properly my first two years.

And Zoom doesn’t really hand old you through it because, for whatever reason, they want to keep it difficult and think a beginning YouTuber or podcaster is going to know or care about: 

  • low cuts, 
  • frequencies 
  • Audio capture directions
  • Multi-channel inputs or 4 channel recording (which is awesome once you crack it). 

Just like your DSLR or iPhone has 99 features you may not use outside of games and making videos/phone calls, the Zoom can do a ton of which you won’t really need at first. 

And just like how many of us first got a DSLR and were like “Why are all the pictures blurry” when we didn’t realize how the technology worked…the Zoom recorder has its own nuances.  

But for podcasting specifically, I’ll explain how you can use it here.   

If you want me to cover something else, like how to edit your files, master your audio, sync your tracks from the Zoom, talk about the 4-channel mode or whatever the best settings are for other configurations..let me know! 

Why You Need the Zoom H4N over the Blue Yeti or Other Plug Into Your Laptop Mics

The zoom records onto an SD card and it can run on batteries OR plugged in power. You can’t lug the Blue Yeti AND A LAPTOP to every podcast setup, and the Zoom is also used on top of your camera, at live events to take audio from the DJ’s console and much more.

It’s like a mini recording studio which is why most people prefer it OVER other devices than require separate storage or computers to be compatible with. I also hated it too and told my best buddy to buy the Yeti instead which is great if it only ever sits at your desk (like people who do YouTube tutorials only).

At my dining table, using the H4N built-in microphone which I think sounds great. And my H4N is about 5 years old. Tripod and foam cover are the ones in the image above. Notice how my voice changes as I tilt my head back away from the mic. This is also my living room in my apartment so no noise proofing is done. This is the Solo podcast setup.

How to Use the Zoom H4N for a Solo Podcast

If you’re a Bill Burr or Chris D’elia type who needs to simply podcast or talk to your audience/listeners at your dining table or bedroom (no bathrooms please), OR are recording a VLOG type podcast and need better audio, the Zoom is amazing.  

Ditto for those folks who want to discuss the news, talk about food, motivation, fitness, business, politics or whatever. 

To use the H4N for a solo recording, all you have to do is:

  1. Turn it on. 
  2. Set the Input mode to Mic by pressing the button that says mic.  It should actually default to this so you probably don’t even need to press this.
  3. This captures your voice from the two tiny silver/black mics on top of the device so make sure the entire device is pointed up towards your face.
  4. Press record ONCE and start testing the meters by talking (those moving bars that appear as you talk). Yes you’ll have to turn the device back around to see the display meters, then turn it back so the mics face you.  (see images/recordings in this post).    
  5. Move the rec level buttons (on the right) of the device as you’re talking until the meters go to about 60% of the way up.  I’ve also recorded up until 75 just fine assuming nobody is going to shout. Once you feel you’re good (or just keep it at 55-60 rec level if it’s just an intimate conversation between you and the listeners).  
  6. Hit the record button again (you’ll see the counter/timer display starting to move) to start recording. 
  7. Don’t touch the device at all until you’re done recording. (you’ll get weird sounds). 
  8. Press stop when you’re done recording.
  9. Press play to hear your file back from the device’s tiny speaker, plug in headphones OR just take out the SD card and play it from your laptop.

In the YouTube clip above I was recording at about level 50-60 and then just used the podcast filter on Adobe Premiere to boost the audio.


  • Small tripod (I’m using the Manfrotto linked at the end of this post)
  • H4N on top of it, positioned between 6 to 12 inches from your face. 
  • Guy or gal talking in front. 
  • That’s really it.  Can run on battery or use the adapter and plug it in.


  • Small Tripod or Stack of Books.
  • Zoom H4N
  • A foam cover/hiss cover to avoid lip-smacking sounds and harsh S type sounds when you say words like sophisticated. 


  • Quiet house (although you can fix minor noises like an air conditioner or fan simply in Adobe Audition, Premiere or Audacity it is better to have it quiet.)
  • Don’t tap the table or keep elbows on it (the one your recorder is on). 
  • Don’t keep glasses of water on the table, your guests will make noise and the vibrations will get picked up by the recorder. 
  • Don’t touch the device or move it until you’re done recording, otherwise, you’ll have to edit out unwanted sounds. 
Using the H4N (not pictured, but near our feet). Notice at 0:29 before he says “SO” how the mic rattle sounds appear.  That’s the main reason you want to keep your mic on a stand as a lot of guests will get excited and keep moving, and that sound is super annoying to someone listening at the gym with headphones. But if we used the dining table behind us (same one in the images and clips above) and just kept the mic on two $10 stands, we’ be fine, as long as guests don’t tap the table or put coffee cups or water bottles on it.

How to Use the Zoom H4N for an Interview Podcast

A lot of people who are new to podcasting will end up having guests and running an interview show in whichever niche they belong to.  

So if you’re in the wedding or meditation niche, you’d like interview wedding planners, photographers, yoga teachers, life coaches, etc… If you’re a new stand up comedian you’ll probably try to interview more successful comedians. 

The goal with podcasting is to aim up, so for example if you have 5,000 Instagram fans you want someone who has 10,000, etc… And the easiest way to do that is to get guests who love talking about themselves.  And since they’re talking, you’ll need to get some decent non-echo-ish audio. 

The most famous podcast currently I assume is the Joe Rogan podcast and you don’t need that quality to interview the top Facebook Ads expert in your city or the leading app developer in your town. 

For Joe’s guests and his audience, will need shock-absorbing boom microphone stands and the SM7B microphone…but again…if you’ve never podcasted before or are less than two years in you’re just wasting your money. 

To use the Zoom H4N to interview a guest, you can use the built-in microphone (less optimal) or two Shure SM 58 microphones plugged into the H4N (my favorite for which I record my podcast on).  

My wife and I sitting at the corner of a dining table. If you and your guest are using the built-in microphone (I put a foam cover on top, but it’s not required), ideally sit close to each other like this so both of you sound decent. Sound sample from exactly this picture below.
The audio file we recorded from the image above! Notice how each of our voices tilt towards one side (you can fix that easily in your podcast editing software like Adobe Premiere or Adobe Audition). Yes, I know Premiere is for video but I just edit my podcasts there also.

How to Record a Podcast Interview with the H4N with the built-in mic

To use the H4N for an interview recording with the built-in mic, all you have to do is the same steps for a solo podcast as above, but with one major seating arrangement:

  1. Turn it on. 
  2. Set the Input to Mic but pressing the button that says mic. 
  3. Press record ONCE and start testing the meters (those moving bars that appear as you talk).    
  4. Move the rec level buttons (on the right) of the device as you’re talking until the meters go to about 60% of the way up.  I’ve also recorded up until 75 just fine assuming nobody is going to shout. Once you feel you’re good (or just keep it at 55-60 if it’s just an intimate conversation between you and the listeners).  
  5. Sit with your guests at the corner of a table or next to each other where you can both be close to the microphone.  (see image above)
  6. Hit the record button again (you’ll see the counter starting to move) to start recording. 
  7. Don’t touch the device at all until you’re done recording. (you’ll get weird sounds). 
  8. Optional: Adjust the mics on top by twisting either of them to set the audio field to 120 although it won’t make too much of a difference. (e.g. if there were 3 of you trying to all talk into it).


  • Small tripod (I’m using the Manfrotto linked at the end of this post)
  • H4N on top of it, positioned between 6 to 12 inches from your face. 
  • Both of you in between the mic. 
  • That’s really it. 


  • Small Tripod or Stack of Books.
  • Zoom H4N
  • A foam cover/hiss cover to avoid lip smacking sounds and harsh S type sounds when you say words like sophisticated. 


  • Don’t MOVE THE MIC to make it easier for either of you! Nail this first! You will be tempted to continuously move the device when either of you talk about DON’T!
  • Quiet house (although you can fix minor noises like A/C simply in Adobe Audition, Premiere or Audacity)
  • Don’t tap the table or keep elbows on it (the one your recorder is on). 
  • Don’t keep glasses of water on the table. 

How to Record a Podcast Interview with two external SM58 Microphones 

This is my favorite setup and the one I’m using in the video with the bald dude above (India’s best Psychiatrist) as well as currently for all my podcasts, including this one with Alicia below.

I’m going to cover this one backward, showing you the gear we use first and then explain the setup. You can use literally any mic you want as long as it has XLR or quarter-inch support to plug into the ports below the device but I advise you to get the SM58 (I’m using two that are literally 10 years old here).

Same setup as the one with the bald dude, but we went with $10 stands as opposed to holding the mic. Notice when it starts how the H4N has the two mic’s cables plugged in at the bottom.

The SM 58 is the industry workhorse microphone that Grammy winners STILL use.  You can google for plenty of comparisons but at $99 it’s all you need to sound like a pro, or you can even use a cheaper Chinese one with the exact same specs.  Any concert, any bar, any comedy show, any jazz club people will most likely be using SM 58s. It’s literally everywhere. Singers and comedians and everyone uses it.


  • H4N plugged into a power source using the included adapter
  • Comfortable table, sofa or studio where both of you can chat and talk facing each other or side by side. 
  • Decent distance from walls so your wires can reach an AC outlet and also your mic cables have room to extend. 


  • Zoom H4N
  • Two Shure SM 58 Microphones or Chinese Equivalents (around $99 or the Behringer is literally the same thing for $20). 
  • A foam cover/hiss cover to avoid lip smacking sounds and harsh S type sounds when you say words like sophisticated.  I’m using a blue one above and Alicia is using the foam cover from all the other images in thi post.
  • Two XLR cables, either XLR to XLR or XLR to Quarter Inch. 
  • Two foam covers for the top of your mic’s. (We forgot to use them above in the meditation video). 
  • Advised ($15 table top mic stands which helps as guests tend to move microphones a lot). 
  • Advised: Headphones to monitor the voices at least in the beginning.  


  • Don’t MOVE THE MIC to make it easier for either of you! Nail this first!
  • Quiet house (although you can fix minor noises like A/C simply in Adobe Audition, Premiere or Audacity)
  • Don’t tap the table or keep elbows on it (the one your recorder is on). 
  • Don’t keep glasses of water on the table. 

To use the Zoom H4N to record a podcast interview with two external microphones:

  1. Plug the H4N into the wall adapter and wall outlet (or use batteries but you’ll drain them fast). 
  2. Plus the TWO XLR cables into the the two microphones.  Plug the other end into the two bottom ports at the bottom of the Zoom H4n device. (it doesn’t matter which one goes where). 
  3. Turn the microphones on (a common issue is one person didn’t turn their mic on and the whole recording is wasted). 
  4. Tap 1 or 2 button (doesn’t matter, you’re just telling the device to use either of those as the microphone source, not the built in mic at the top of the device which you used in solo mode). 
  5. Tap 1. 
  6. Tap the record button to turn on the mic. 
  7. Whoever is holding the microphone that is plugged into port 1, start talking and adjust the rec level (side device) until it goes to about 45-50 percent. 
  8. Repeat steps 5 to 7 but this time Tap 2. 
  9. Once your happy with your levels, hit record again to start recording. 

If you’re not seeing one bar go up but rather two, OR you want both bars to go up when either of you talk…read on. 

Mono Mix, ½ Link and Settings

When two people talk into two microphones, most audio recorders will give you one file, with two tracks (a left channel and a right channel).  Using any simple software like Audacity or Adobe Audition or Premiere you can easily split those up.  

If you don’t know what I’m talking about or don’t care about editing much, you should use Mono Mix to put everything in one audio file.  I used this a lot because I don’t interrupt my guests too much and there isn’t a need to isolate the audio of his/her mic from mine. But oftentimes you might if you have too many guests and a lot of chatter (or you can hear a dog barking in the back of your mic while your guest is talking into a mic that isn’t grabbing the dog sound). 

Don’t worry, Mono Mix doesn’t mean you have a lower level recording, it just means the device blends both your mic’s together so you don’t have to. 

To Turn On Mono Mix:

  1. Press the Menu button on the side of the device.
  2. Then use the jog wheel on the right side of the device to scroll down to Input. 
  3. Press the jog wheel on Input. 
  4. Scroll down to ½ Link and press the jog wheel on ½ Link.  
  5. Scroll down to On and press the jog wheel on it. 
  6. Scroll down to mono mix (you know how to use the jog wheel now right?) and turn it on. 

Now repeat the above steps on how to use the H4N with two microphones and when you get to steps 5 to 7 you should see both meters moving.  

In case you don’t see these buttons or options try turning off stamina mode behind your battery panel.  Often times phantom power or plug-in power are also causing some issues. 

Or just comment below and I’ll help you out!

Still using my 2011 Zoom H4N (that is beaten up in 2020) and the built-in Adobe Premiere H4N preset to quickly master the audio.

Common Mistakes: 

  1. Your headphones are plugged into the external mic port (the one labeled EXT mic on the back of the device, at the top) instead of the headphone jack which is on the left of the device which says line/headphone icon. 
  2. Stamina mode being on or off his hiding certain features you can’t get to (like changing to MP3 from WAV recording formats). 
  3. Phantom Power or Plug-In Power is not on or off which is not letting your lapel or lavalier mic work. 
  4. Your lapel or lavalier mic has only 2 black stripes on it as opposed to 3 which might affect if it’s compatible with your device as explained here. 

Amazon Links to Products I’d recommend:

Zoom H4N (Duh)

Foam Cover and Windscreen

Shure SM58 (Buy one first and make sure you like the setup)

The Shure SM7B Professional Podcast Mic (you don’t need it but if you got the cash it’s a beast)

Manfrotto Pixi (Don’t buy the Newer more expensive Evo, it’s got some bad reviews but this one is a star) and can even handle a heavy DSLR.

XLR Cables (one for each mic)


So are you an H4N expert now?

Trust me, it’s one of those devices that is super complicated initially but after 1-2 days, it will save you a lifetime of hassle.

Think of all the time and money you’ll save on driving to a studio, waiting for an editor and paying for those services when instead you could do the number thing podcasting is all about…creating!

Tell me your Zoom H4N pain points below!

Read Next: For our India readers, check out the Best Indian Podcasts also on this site.

Bangalore comedy audience

Best Comedy Clubs in India

Stand up Comedy is booming in India.

Back in 2010, there wasn’t a single dedicated comedy club in the country until the UK Comedy Store invested a sizable chunk of money into the now-closed Canvas Laugh Club Mumbai.

However thanks to that initial investment and YouTube showing the country all flavors of stand up, it is now one of the most interesting growing entertainment verticals.

Unfortunately, although “comedy clubs” and “comedy nights” pop up weekly, they’re very few venues that:

  • do it consistently,
  • pay their artists on time
  • and keep it professional.

A lot of people read this blog on how to do stand up comedy, but I thought I’d jot down the best comedy clubs in each major Indian city. Running a comedy club isn’t easy because it’s a business in which everybdoy wants to use you as a stepping stone, so right when you have built up a market and loyal customer based and employees (comedians), most comics jump ship on to bigger shows because well, they need to eat.

But they’re a few that continuously push through this and have built a system to succeed that most bar or pub owners will never figure out, so lets jot some down here.

If you’re a visiting comic to India and curious about the best rooms (they’re plenty more great shows outside of these places which you can check by filtering for comedy on BookMyShow in your city) OR you’re a new comic hopeful looking on where to perform eventually, these should be on your list of goals. (Which you have right?!?)

Best Comedy Clubs in Mumbai

Indie Habitat

A great space for comedians to record their specials. You can watch some of the top comics in the country doing their sets here weekly, shows for major acts are usually sold out.

Cuckoo Club

Snug art cafe where a lot of comics will also perform and run their sets and recordings.

Best Comedy Clubs in Delhi

Canvas Laugh Club

The goal for Indian stands up comedians will be to have a recording here, as it subconsciously plays a role in YouTube impressions and views. There have been issues with management but for the average person, it’s still one of the best club and rooms in the country. Regardless, Canvas and the former comedy store are 90% of the reason you see comedy in India the way it is today.

Update August 26th: Looks like both venues are shut temporarily. *Facepalm*

Delhi Central Comedy Club

This comedy club I believe has Papa CJ (veteran comedian) helping with promotions and PR or management and seems like a wonderful room that knows how to produce comedy shows. It’s likely tiny and not fancy (which is how comedy should be) but do check it out!

Best Comedy Clubs in Chennai

Spotted Hyena, Club Crest Chennai.

Aravind SA and Baggy who were both with Evam (also opening up a new club soon) have launched this new club and hopefully it sticks around for a while, which I imagine it will. Pictures so far look gorgeous.


Xu at the Leela Palace

Amin Ahmed runs this show as of August 2019 at the Leela Palace and seems to get a very consistent crowd.






A great business opportunity will be available for anybody to open up a comedy club, but somebody who knows what truly makes it good. And to be honest, food and beverage is hardly it. I’ve seen super successful comedy nights run in India in a box of a room with no AC, so it just depends on a few key factors and I think many on this list are cracking it.

Suggestions? I’m sure I missed some so if you’d like me to add them let me know by commenting the website, the name and the reason why. The requirements are:

  • Been doing shows for a while or have a stand-up comedy backing
  • Pay artists on time
  • Dedicated venue with website and FB page.
aravind SA biography

Comedian Aravind SA on I was Not Ready DA and Hindi Imposition

Tamil English Stand Up Comedian Get’s Real on Writing and Insecurity

Aravind SA is a comedian from Chennai and arguably the most popular of the stand-up comics currently from South India, although I’m not sure why he hasn’t been given a Wikipedia.?

He’s also a good buddy of mine and we recently chatted about stand up comedy in Bangalore and India.

He’s most well known for his Amazon comedy special I was Not Ready Da and Madrasi Da, as well as various acting and digital work.


SA (as he’s known) used to be an actor ,and then worked with Chennai based Evam Stand Up comedy Tamasha. From there he signed with Green Room (no longer with them) and now does a bunch of different things like film making and advertisements and voice-overs for a BBC documentary, although he’s mainly a stand-up comedian in India.

Madrasi Da and Amazon Prime

So What’s the National Language of India?!?

One thing that’s great about stand up comedy in a place as passionate as India, or at least Indian twitter and media portals, is the entire Hindi disposition and debate on the language.

The wonderful part of the arguments of course, on whether Hindi or Tamil or Urdu or Punjabi or Gujarati should be the main languages…is that all these arguments happen in English.

I just love it.

I’m all for Hindi if you know it, and yes, by the numbers, for sure…most people in this country speak it.

But I don’t, and SA doesn’t, and even the Big Bollywood folks who pretend they do daily actually speak English at home and just appeal to the masses who’s ticket sales they I mean, I get it.

I’ve never been to a Karan Johar Bandra party bit I imagine it’s more English than anything.

I honestly believe if the drivers/maids/working class needs a fair shot at upwards class mobility, they’ll need to learn English eventually.

If you tweet that “we need to teach the poor English” some middle-class person who speaks it finely will say you’re being elitist and racist.

But I’m sure if that driver or maid also knew English and made easy money in some fluffy corporate job like that guy, well…you get where I’m going.

Tamil versus Hindi
Tamil is great also ok? Yeah yeah I get it.

Can you be rich in this country with only Hindi?

Of course, I’m sure plenty of factory owners in the North do just fine.

Will English help you get miles ahead into an office job or internet job?


How do you say SEO and on-page optimization in Hindi?

Indians are the most racist to each other.

It seems strange that even in my own YouTube channel, people have a problem with my accent, as if it’s fake.

Do folks from Kenya comment on Will Smith’s videos wondering why he has an “accent?”

Or do we just have a weird English hangover/insecurity?

One thing I loved from our chat is SA saying that it was a bummer his friends in San Jose California all try to enjoy his special around the TV, yet the North Indians at the house party lose interest or get bored.

“If I can watch one Hindi fu*k all special of yours, watch one South Indian fu*k all special of mine OK?”

Some podcast highlights.

It seems we as Indians love to chant Indian pride on the world stage and get super defensive if you say something negative about the country, yet the one thing we love the most is having a problem with each other.

Either way, all part of the experience 🙂

The full audio and video interviews are here.


I really enjoyed this chat, because although yes, Hindi is probably the most common “by the numbers” language, it’s very similar to Cantonese in Hong Kong versus Mandarin in China.

Even though way less people speak Cantonese, ain’t nobody gonna stop speaking it.

Everybody talks about Indian pride and also individuality, so maybe it’s time we celebrate the differences in order to find our similarities.

Also: Ten Mistakes Indian Stand Up Comedians Make

Also: How to Do Stand Up Comedy in India

Also: Best Podcasts in India you Need to Hear

Birdy Num Num Podcast

Sanjay Manaktala is one of the top stand up comedians in India who started building the comedy community in the country back in 2010. Since then his stand up comedy videos and podcasts have helped millinos laugh or get motivated. His latest effort is the Birdy Num Num podcast, helping you learn creativity in life after engineering. You can learn about Sanjay here or check out his YouTube channel here.

how much do stand up comedians make india

How Much Do Indian Stand Up Comedians Make?

Sanjay Manaktala was instrumental in launching the comedy scene in India in 2010, right around the time the Comedy Store UK and others entered the country. He knows the comedy business in and out.

So you want to know how much money you can make as a stand-up comedian in India?

TLDR: The good news…you’ll make more than comedians in the UK and America, due to the simple laws of supply and demand.

The bad news…don’t expect to make anything for your first 3 years of doing this at least 15-20 hours a week.

Kunal Kamra Sanjay Manaktala Podcast

Pubs, Clubs and Open Mics Rates

To show you how little the Indian public knows about a career in comedy (to be fair, it’s still being defined) I once had a comedian email me back in 2012…

I want to do stand up comedy at your open mic. How much will you pay me?

Some idiot finance guy who emailed me.
That was the best joke of 2012.

Regardless, most comedians in year 0 to year 3 are just hunting for stage time, and some will even pay the venue in the form of a fee, buying drinks or other things to get access to a stage and an audience.

Partially blind yet fully funny Sundeep Rao from Bangalore.

So how much can I make doing comedy in a bar or pub in India?

Coffee Shops and Open Mic in Bangalore or Mumbai or Delhi: 0 INR (0 dollars)

You’ll probably lose money when you factor in:

  • what you order at the venue,
  • your fuel or taxi,
  • your time,
  • opportunity cost, etc…

I’d say the first year of stand up comedy is about a 30K investment in simple logistical expenses.

Pubs and Comedy Clubs and Bars: 1K to 5K INR per 20-40 minute set, and many nights will be a waste as you only got 11 people and everybody gets 50 rupees.

Pubs and Comedy Clubs Solo Show: 30K to 2L INR (where you attracted the crowd of 100-300 people, and you perform an hour)

Stand up comedy tips india
Most of your comedy career is dingy pubs and 10 people or less. If you got lucky in a crew or gang and have access to big crowds early, trust me, your time is coming.

Ticket Math

When you do a solo show, the comedian will typically take home about 25-40% of the revenue or ticket price. (e.g. 500 INR ticket means comic makes 200 per ticket).

If it doesn’t sell out (and most don’t), this percentage goes down as the venue will take a fixed rate of 10K-2Laks.

I have done many shows where we lost between 1K and 10K.

How Much are Corporate Stand up Comedy Rates in India?

The majority of comedians, myself included, will make our income between years three and seven (you should quit your full-time job only after you’re making about 1 lakh monthly with your gigs) with corporate shows.

So doing comedy for companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Wipro, Infosys Annual Day, Toyota Sales Meeting, etc..

Most stand up comedians in India who have a following and do corporate shows of above 200 people will charge between 1L and 5L for 30 to 45 minutes.

If you’re new, like 1 to 3 years in and are getting calls for office shows…charge 20K and move up from there.

If you have a 100K organic following, charge 85K and move up from there as demand comes in.

It’s better to make 40K for doing a set on a Tuesday than saying no and waiting for the next show which may take months. And then seeing yourself at some mic nobody came to, only to realize you could have made 40K for entertaining some office folks easily.

Best Indian Stand Up Comedians (Hindi)

Best Indian Stand Up Comedians (English)

How Much do Comics Charge for College Festival Shows?

Some comedians will come and do a 20 minute set for like 20,000 INR, others will charge between 3 to 5 lakhs.

Many college shows you should do for free initially because you’ll pick up 500 followers just for gigging. Also, you probably still stuck so take the stage time and go.

On average about 1 lakh seems standard for someone the kids know or follow online. 2 lakhs is you have like 500,000 YouTube or Instagram followers.

Rule of Thumb: If people are asking you for selfies, no more free stand up comedy shows. (But do plenty of free media appearances or cross promotions).

Are Comedy Prices the Same across Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, etc..?

For all the major metros, including probably Chennai and Hyderabad I’d say yes.

For places like Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Trichi, Mysore, etc.. I would assume the ticket prices for comedy shows go down, yet in-demand comedians will likely charge the same to come there.

For example, a comic who is making good money in Mumbai or Bangalore would go to Ahmedabad for less money (also factoring in travel) but probably do more time, write more jokes, test out stuff, etc..

Or maybe even he/she has a huge following there so they might sell more there in their home town.

It all depends on where your fans come from and if the city has a lot of comedy going on or not.

What about Overseas like in the US or Canada or Australia?

Indian stand up comedians (from India) who travel overseas probably average about $1,000 USD per show for their performance, with the range being losing money up to $10,000 USD per show if they sell out a 1,000 seater at $20 a ticket, and then split with promoter/venue, etc…

Answering 19 of your Indian stand up comedy questions on the Birdy Num Num video podcast.

So How Much Can I Make as a stand-up comedy career?

Just because someone charges so much for a show, doesn’t imply that they’re making that every day.

The majority of days you will make nothing, as you’ll simply be testing jokes and making sure they work, and obviously trying to improve them.

Nobody gives a shit to hear what you have to say until it’s funny for 500 strangers Rohit. (I struggled hard to make sure I don’t know any comics named Rohit so please use whatever Indian generic name you have).

In Summary:

Years 0 to 3: You will lose money in expenses, so 0 INR.

Years 2 to 5: Money will trickle in, and you’ll average about 1 to 2 Lak PER YEAR.

Sure a comedian may charge 1L per show, but he or she may only do 1 of those shows every six months.

Years 5+: You’ll make between 1L per month or 15L-1CR.

Related Questions

Who is the highest-paid comedian in India?

Zakir Khan, considering if you add his ticket sales, Amazon deals and YouTube and Social Media Influencing, I’d guess he’s making at least 10CR per year at the moment if not much more. Probably Vir Das after that considering his Hollywood and Netflix associations.

What Can I do to make more money or get higher payments faster?

The good news is you can do things to earn money faster.

You can also get better faster, because someone who is on stage 5 times a week versus someone who goes twice a week, will be much better after the same year.

The bad news is they’re no shortcuts to getting stage time experience and learning the hard lessons from bad crowds, hecklers, improv and so forth.

That takes a lot of time and getting off your ass and into the dive bars.

Regardless of whatever path works for your life, here are things you can do to start earning quicker:

  • Produce your Own Comedy Show and market it well so you keep sales (folks like Punit Pania do this)
  • Start a productive YouTube channel (not one of your crappy cell phone recordings of stand up): Be You Nick does this.
  • Build a following on social media which will get you organic traffic, which will get you sponsorship, payments, better fans, more crowds, etc.. Zakir Khan does this better than everyone, largely all stemming from his initial burst on the AIB Stand up video about Delhi Girls and small-town boys. (He was on the scene for a while before though, so that “overnight success” took a few years). Mallika Dua is another example from non-stand up, but somebody who really lives on digital and if she did do stand up would have any stage she wanted.
  • Find ways to write for social media campaigns, advertisements, act, etc…

What About Netflix and Amazon and YouTube?

In India, everybody wants to think about the end result so much nobody realizes it is supposed to be everything until then.

Amazon and Netflix specials will cost about 10L to 30L to produce, and your take-home profit might be 10K, 10L or even 1CR based on the incentives in your contract.

It all depends on how much value you bring and how many of your fans sign up for the platforms. (e.g. If your Amazon special got 1M viewers and you got them another 5000 sign-ups, guess who’s having a good holiday? You ARE!)

For YouTube, ad revenues will be between 20K INR and 60K INR per million views.

But the bottom line is none of those platforms will call you or hire you unless you have a proven digital track record, so get to it.

As I wrote about here in

How to Have a Standup Comedy Career in India

A comedian needs, in 2019 and beyond, to also do:

  • Video Editing
  • Motion Graphics
  • Podcasting
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Screenwriting
  • Blogging (Hi!)
  • Basic Web Design
  • Public Speaking
  • Story Telling
  • Copyrighting
  • Advertising
  • SEO
  • Digital Marketing
  • DSLR Film Making
  • YouTube Film Making (yes they’re different)
  • VLogging
  • Improvisation
  • Stage Production
  • Event Management
  • Crowd Control
  • Oh…and you also have to be great at writing jokes.

Read Next: Most Viewed Hindi Stand Up Comedy Videos

Read Next: Best English Stand Up Comedy


  1. Is it an amazing time to do stand up comedy in India? Yes for sure.
  2. Is it an easy career? HELL NO.
  3. Should you be worried about making a million dollars or 1CR? NOPE.
  4. Should you quit your job to do this full time? No way, not until you generate 1L per month part-time while still doing well at your job.

What’s the number one piece of advice you would tell someone who wants to do stand up comedy full time?

Oh, I’m glad you asked.

Focus on overcoming stage fright, writing good, original jokes, building stage presence, a good organic social media following, don’t compare yourself to others and be true to yourself…and the money will come in faster than you can count it.

Now go write some jokes yeah?

Follow SanjayComedy Instagram

ALSO See: 10 Mistakes Indian Stand Up Comedians Make (Updated 2019)

ALSO See: Nice Guys Finish Last But What’s the Hurry?

How to Film Stand Up Comedy

How to Film Stand Up Comedy

Do you want to know how to shoot stand up comedy at your bar or pub show, comedy club, small theater or private event? Sanjay Manaktala has done comedy for years, run and gunned at his own open mics and produced shows as part of the daily hustle of being a stand-up comedian. In this post he’ll explain the camera setup and audio gear required to record your comedy sets for Instagram and Facebook or YouTube and whatever other social media platform is hot tomorrow.

Guide to Shooting a Stand Up Comedy Live Performance

Hello fellow comedy industry comics and producers.

If you landed up here you’re probably curious how to film your stand up set properly.

Since we all know in comedy that less is more and to cut the fat, here’s the artwork I mocked up together for most of you that will pretty much answer most things I’m about to say.

How to shoot stand up comedy
3 DSLR’s with the appropriate lenses, one wide-angle, and two slightly side angles which need not be an equal distance away from the middle. You’ll likely do most of your edits/cuts on your act outs, since emotion/setup/tension you need intimate close-ups/middle shots. One thing I forgot to add is if you can, record audio laughter from your phone in the middle of the audience, or use the H4N 4 channel setting if you really need to. Also, tripods should be at the height where the camera is at your neck level.

Stand up comedy isn’t impossible to film, or particularly very difficult…if you have a crew. And of course, you have a crew for every open mic with 5 people, right? I mean of course RIGHT!?!?!

Ok, so that’s where it gets difficult.

Unless you have a team of 4-5 people constantly helping, checking levels, angles, lighting, aperture, and focus…live shoots…even in a small bar can be quite hectic.

So before I begin explaining how many camera and lenses you’ll need, let me warn you. You’ll probably record about 10 gigs before you get it right. A million things will go wrong the first 5-10 times. I put this guide together so it’s 10 mics and not 100.

And then all you got to do is make sure the right crowd, the right set, the right delivery, the right response and the right night.

Russell Brand Bangalore Sanjay manaktala Comedy Central
Russell Brand came to India and I opened for him across 3 cities, but somebody forgot to tell the cameraman that sometimes wide is too wide.

List of things that go wrong when you film your sets, whether professionally, with DSLR’s or with cell phones:

  • Venue sound guy increases the audio level to your recorder, ruining your audio from the mixer/sound recorder. Now all you have is hollow camera audio.
  • Somebody stands in front of your cameras.
  • Audience chair hits tripod, moves the angle of the camera.
  • Camera SD cards cut out or get full.
  • Audio gets full or recorder dies because power settings/battery/memory card was wrong.
  • You moved out of the frame and no camera got you, during your best act out.
  • Weird hissing from audio recorder because mixer had some loose wire or feedback or cell phone hum.
  • Aperture was too perfect and depth of field was too crisp, so you’re barely in focus since you move a lot.
  • Batteries die after 20 to 45 minutes because the opener took too long, and your best joke was at minute 46 and it was the best response you ever got and OMG FML.
  • ISO is too high and footage is way too grainy.
  • Your set or delivery was off or you messed up one word and now the callback in your clip doesn’t make sense and will confuse the viewer. (not a technical issue but hey anybody feel me?)
  • Performer kept walking out of the spotlight so all was fine except his/her face is underexposed (e.g. dark bags under eyes and just looks off). I just did this at my show yesterday.
punchline sacramento indian comedian
The Punchline in Sacramento has great lighting, but you’ll not get this type of lighting in most bars. Also, this is a cool angle for a picture but for a video it should be a little more zoomed in since it’s not dead center, we’d use this angle instead for a close-up or middle shot.

I know $50,000 shoots in India and America where they messed up audio, and that’s the single source of failure. If one camera goes out you can always switch to another, but audio, oh boy, you really got to be careful.

So What’s the Best Way to Record Stand Up Comedy Shows?

So if you’re trying to do what I strongly believe most comedians are already doing, which is playing the digital long game ala Andrew Schulz and most others, you have to find a way to constantly put out clips on IGTV, (Vertical) Instagram Video (Square), YouTube (duh) and Facebook (although nobody will watch it probably by the end of 2019).


First thing you need is 3 DSLR cameras.

  1. Main Camera Angle: This shot is not exciting, and its awkward cause it usually shows your full body. But it’s the safety shot for when the other two aren’t cutting it.
  2. Right of the stage (e.g. right of the main camera) – so will be like 5-10 feet away, slightly angled at you on stage, waist up.
  3. Left of the stage, ideally super tight, in case you’re standing still and really connecting with the crowd.


Tascam or Zoom H4N (the standard). It’s about $200.

how to record stand up comedy audio
I’ve done big-budget shows where we just got forgot to hit record. YES, I’m serious. Also, the red text says “stand up comedy audio setup” so don’t worry you didn’t miss anything. (too lazy to upload it again).

I like the Zoom because you can record the output of a mixer directly into it, and you can then use the other mic it has to also record field audio. I hated it for the first few years, thinking it was ugly, bulky and just not user-friendly or intuitive. Now I know why it’s the standard.

ON the 4 Channel Mode: If the DJ or sound console is near the crowd, you could let the sound guy give you the XLR output into the Zoom’s Channel 1 (make sure you set the input to 1 and not mic), then let the Zoom’s top mics get the crowd laughter. This is in 4 channel mode.

Amazon India: Zoom H4N Recorder Standard Live Show & Podcast Recorder

If the sound dude is too far to also let the audio recorder point towards the crowd, then simply put your phone on a tripod in the middle of the audience and capture crowd laughter that way, and sync it to your voice later. Or you can record video and now you have the same sound plus a backup video.

What about just Recording your Stand Up Set on your Phone?

For those of you who aren’t looking to release your clips online and just want a standard way to make sure you’re not lazy about recording your spots, now let’s see the best way to use your iPhone or Android.

Priorities for this format are normally:

  1. Good Audio (most phone’s mics are better than DSLR cameras for audio these days) so I don’t think you should buy those mic attachments.
  2. Focus (you’ll have to lock focus on the previous performer or on the microphone stand as you need to be in the same plane for focus.
  3. Frame (get a wide shot since you don’t plan to release it but want the whole stage in case you get some magic)
  4. Lock exposure for the same reason.
  5. Stability (e.g. tripod with small cell phone attachment).
  6. Tripod (Full size)

All you need for this is really a tripod, phone attachment and well, your phone.

A lot of comics put get those dinky small tripods, and put them on a table, which then gets fists slamming the table, silverware sounds, and an awkward angle looking at the performer.


Use a full size $15 Amazon Prime tripod, a $4 phone attachment and put your phone in the middle somewhere.

best camera setup for comedy show
The Setup SF is one of best gigs in the Bay, and has a standard camera angle that works for their basement show, which would be great for gigs in Chicago and NYC/Boston also.

Best Lens for Comedy Shows

I’ll get to the camera’s themselves, don’t worry. Lenses are way more important.

I know so many comedians who get caught up in the gear because that’s an easy way to *cough* use that as an excuse to not focus on their act.

Oh yeah, focus pun, did you catch it?

You know all that spiritual meditation stuff you make fun of?

Google something called “resistance” and realize all that Amazon review reading is a form of that.

I still use a 2011 (8-year-old) DSLR Canon 7d camera and my newer comic friends always ask me “Hey man what camera do you use?”

The real question: Oh wow you actually use your camera?

But you could easily take a Udemy course for the price of the beer, and record some quality content at all the crappy mic’s you do and at least get some nice crowd work nuggets (which oftentimes gets more views than the bits themselves as of 2019 lord-help-us internet).

Regardless, instead of bugging your friends with 900 reviews and questions, I’m going to say something straight up:

You can record a great bar set, with sharp focus, decent zoom and proper exposure (brightness on you the performer) with most Costco/stock DSLR cameras. You’ll probably just need to be creative on camera placement and stage lighting.

Lets duke it out in the comments.

I only know Canon equipment, but using the numbers for zoom/focal length (50MM) and brightness/aperture you can get gear from any brand.

For example, for the Canon 50MM 1.8, the zoom is 50 (which is a good upper body but not much negative space) and the aperture is 1.8 which means good for low light/dingy dive bars where you do comedy.

So for the setup above, I would have:

  1. Camera 1: Middle Wide Camera be any lens that is 18-35MM (really wide) and can do an aperture of around 2.8
  2. Camera 2: 50-150MM (or higher) that can zoom into the performer from his waist up, and has an aperture of 2.8. Depending on how big the stage is you’ll have to move this camera closer than the other two since it might be TOO wide and get way more than just the stage.
  3. Camera 3: 50MM to 85MM (fixed, no zoom) that will be locked into the performer’s chest/shoulders/head/neck for those really deep, intimate, tension building moments. You’ll have the hardest time recording this as the performer will constantly step in and out of the frame so I hope your tripod moves or pans well.

NOTE: I’m not a lens expert so if any film guys want to comment please do. This is just what works for me.

Also See: How they Shoot a Netflix Comedy Special

Best Camera for Recording Stand Up Comedy

There are a million cameras for anything, so I can’t really suggest any here because that’s like a whole blog post and it’s way too complicated. All I can tell you based on the diagram above is that any $600 Costco or DSLR Camera is fine, provided you have the right lens.

Most people spend way more on the lenses than the camera.

For India, if you have gear, this is pretty much the bundle you’d need. Or any similar spec’s with a different manufacturer.

Amazon India: Canon EOS 1500D 24.1MP Digital SLR Camera (Black) with 18-55 and 55-250mm is II Lens, 16GB Card and Carry Case

These days people also have what’s called a bridge camera which is a hybrid of a DSLR and Camcorder or point-n-shoot, which apparently have good low light functionality and zooms all in one, so if I get time to research those I’ll add some links here. I plan to buy one soon as well because all those Peter McKinnon videos are slowly chipping away at my wallet and I feel like it’ll just be easier to use those.

Whichever camera you want to buy, check the youTube reviews of those cameras and look for “low light test” videos or “live show/concert” and “zoom video of *your camera model” to imagine how it would hold up at the bar or comedy club you perform in. If the camera has good zoom and brightness on an outdoor street-light scene, you’re probably good.

A Note On GoPros:

GoPros are ok for crowd shots if you can get lighting on your crowd (which isn’t ideal for their experience).

But for video, you won’t get good audio from the camera and it will be SO WIDE that the youTube viewer will realize you’re in some dive bar. Better to shoot in small places and make it feel more glam than it really is.

A Note on Camera Placement

If you can’t place your camera’s like my diagram above, simply move it wherever you can and then adjust your zooms/tripod heads.

So if your middle camera can film fine but there is something or someone obstructing your side camera’s…simply go back, go forward, whatever until you get an angle that works.

Then you’ll have to change lenses to make up for being further back or closer or higher or whatever.

BONUS: Best Microphone for Recording Stand Up Comedy

The Shure SM 58 is hands down the best microphone for pretty much most live events, and you can get them for like $80 or get a Chinese rip off which has the exact internals for like $30.

Again, don’t go all gear-head and over complicate your life, I use this mic for everything and it’s the best for a reason.

And it’s not even expensive.

CONCLUSION aka my big closer

Comedians need to be recording their sets DEFINITELY for themselves, and in the long run for the benefit for their career and audiences. They also need to be watching those sets rather than just knowing it’s on their phone, and upload those fun crowd moments that happen daily.

As Dwayne Perkins told me in ten mistakes comics make, recording and WATCHING your set between gigs is actually doubling your stage time, since you were probably going to do the same nonsense again without any adjustment.

dwayne perkins advice podcast
Solid advice from someone that does Conan like every year.

The internet continues to democratize stand up and you need to find cheap hacks to get near Netflix quality production with $500 of consumer-level Best Buy gear.

And if you REALLY know what you’re doing, it’s totally possible.

A million bars and restaurants have epic stages for music, that has good acoustics, the brick wall, great seating, good lighting, and optimal camera placement.

Imagine if you can produce a killer show, record your fun bits and use that platform to launch yourself? That’s more or less what DryBar comedy is doing, and it’s giving the public what they want. Minus some lawsuit I heard about music or DVD rentals something.

I hope the above information helped because when I tried looking online I could hardly find anything and just kind of figured it out as I went.

If you have any suggestions, hacks, tips or corrections, please do let me know in the comments or on social media!

Happy gigging!

Products In This Post

Amazon (USA)

Zoom Recorder:

Shure SM58

Camera I advise for beginner comics:

Camera I advise after a few years:


Can I use my cell phone as backups? 

Of course.  

I’d advise it.  It can serve as your master shot (a backup you cut to when another camera cut out) for the entire stage and also be very usable backup audio for either your full set or your audience laughter.  Even if I have a DSLR I sometimes simply use my cell phone cause the crowd work bit was fine from the phone and that’s good enough for 1K views on Insgagram.

What if there is no DJ/Soundboard?

Then you’ll have to simply use field audio from your H4N or camera audio so your voice/jokes will be recorded from the speakers along with with the crowds hopefully awesome laughter. 

stand up comedy advice how do i get more stage time

How Do I Get More Stage Time?

Updated July 2019

In this post I’m going to explain how aspiring stand up comedians, whether in the USA or India or Singapore or anywhere can get more stage time, aside from “network.” I live in India so I may give examples here but the advice is practical anywhere. I’ll first talk about the career track of a stand-up comedian the first five years and then explain the most effective way to get on better and better stages.

TLDR: If you want something done, you gotta do it yourself.

Getting On Stage as a Comic is HARD

I’m in the US for a few months and the harsh beauty of stand up is that no matter how many credits you have on TV, how many millions of views on YouTube or how many Twitter people like you…when you’re doing this as a profession there is something you have to quickly learn and accept:


Hunting for stage time is going to be a normal part of your career. It’s like business development…no matter how cool your job is, you will have to follow up on leads, send emails, and yes, possibly…cold call.

Just like an office worker checks his emails in the morning or marketers need to offer you their products via InMail – so to do you need to be actively taking control of this craft you’ve committed yourself too.

It’s not easy, you will get A LOT of negative responses (to be fair, they’re many good people who are just busy) but eventually, you will start filling up your calendar and your own routine will be sorted.

Most comics (including myself) sit around for years thinking some magic guru will pluck them from the open mic scene, mentor them and push them up the ladder. It might happen for a few, but the reality is if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.

You’re creative with your comedy, so now get creative with your comedy career.

Stand Up Comedy Career Progression (example)

“Stick to your time” in comedy jargon also means learning to manage it.

Year 1 in Comedy: Open Mics & Overcoming Stage Fright, Hecklers, Learning to Write

Love yourself.

Hate yourself.

Question everything.

Bomb for many. Kill for a few.

Think you know everything after watching Carlin, Burr, CK, Stanhope, Hicks, Mitch, etc.. (Hint: They don’t give a fu*k about you either, but I’m sure are still amazing human beings)

Get accepted by fellow comics. Judge other ones, thinking they’re hack or sellout even though they’ve been in your exact same shoes.

Make friends. Make enemies. Many quit here.

You will put out an 8-minute clip of your standup thinking it’s awesome when in reality it’s terrible and shot on your shitty phone. Your friends laughed to be supportive and your ego will swell. You will message me and other comics to watch it. If we’re nice enough to go through it (cause that chick we’re stalking isn’t responding and we have the time), you will then overstep and ask us to share it.

Then we will block you.

I’m not being an asshole, I’ve just made this mistake and it’s the equivalent of emailing your friend’s friend who is a VP at Google with your resume when the HR department exists for a reason. Trust the process, learn the rules and then bend them. I admire the grind, and I’ve been both too aggressive and too passive.

All I can say is be patient but not complacent.

Years 2-4 in Comedy: Featured Shows + All of Year 1 Again:

Based on contacts you’ve made and crowds you’ve impressed, start getting booked at bars, birthday parties, comedy clubs, company events, etc.. Bomb at these shows and realize while open mics are required, making comics laugh and making a general Friday night office/college audience laugh aren’t the same thing.

They don’t care about your super clever pedophile joke Brad.

Continue the same hustle at open mics, maybe even hustling harder. I’m shocked in California that some of the most successful comics still go to the shittiest open mics – but that’s the same reason for their success. You should be actively announcing your existence as a comic to all your Facebook friends by now.

Now you will need them to attend shows, share better videos, give you support, etc.. And if you’re worried about your job noticing your comedy hobby or your friends judging you – then please quit now. If you don’t commit to it, you’re already setting yourself up for failure. Some of the best real gigs I’ve gotten also come because my entire social network knows I do this as that one guy on their newsfeed and will think of me when events happen. Use the tools at your disposal, not run away from them.

Know some guy who owns a restaurant? Do a show.

Have a team outing at your office? Do a show.

Wedding friends asking you to say something? Do a show at the reception bro! Or simply volunteer to emcee and squeeze in a few inside jokes, which is also great practice for writing quickly for events (ahem, award shows, TV shows, news, etc…)

Year 4-7: Headline Shows, Many Featured Shows, weekly open mics:

Same as before but now try to actively push on 30-40 minute spots, try to book your own dates at bars/venues, etc..

More heart break, a few mores successes.

Travel, spend money, and look for other avenues to have your voice reach people. Continue to get rejected but don’t even think of it like that – it’s just another day at the office, like traffic on the way to work.

Before you give up on these depressing timelines, just know that I’m in year 9 of actively doing this (and year four of doing it without a day job) and I’m barely in this bracket in India, and probably in the second bracket in the US.

So don’t worry if your timelines don’t match up. I’ve seen guys and girls doing it for a year already booking big clubs, and I’ve seen similar folks doing it 10 years and still at an open mic.

It’s commendable to think that if you just work hard and you will climb. Mama raised me the same way.

But real life isn’t so black and white.

So now that you kind of understand the process, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of the day to day.

How the hell do I actually get more shows, now that I want to do this every day?

Sundeep Rao
Sundeep Rao is blind and finds gigs. And some comics are so lazy they ask him to find them shows. So come on man. Get off your ass.

Well to be blunt…while you’re learning comedy, don’t forget to learn the business of comedy.

And after the jokes, what exactly is the business? It’s about getting strangers (aka non-comics aka audience members) to come to a venue, watch comedy and ideally spend money (e.g. ticket sales or food and drinks).  

If you look at this like a startup or a company, it eventually becomes fairly simple.

How To Perform More as a Comedian


Jokes are like your morning poops.

They never come when you plan for them but more at a time you don’t expect.

As a result, you end up having a LOT of free time. You’re waiting to perform, you’re out for coffee with friends, you’re day dreaming in your cubicle, whatever.

So what is a comedy show?

It’s a sound system (mic, speaker, mixer, stand), a venue (bar/club/coffee shop/backyard) and an audience.

ALSO: Skills Comedians Need in 2019

Sound is a commodity, most venues have it or it can be rented cheaply. I tell every single new comic I meet in India – whether a year in or ten years in – find a venue, start a show.

You want the secret sauce to this career? THIS IS IT.

It’s the most obvious tip that I so blatantly tell you now because just like “Junk food is bad for you” most don’t want to deal with the work involved and just ignore the most obvious solution.  


Go on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Zomato, Facebook, Event Brite whatever….email restaurants and bars, speak to your friends who own or work at one – and start a fU*king show.

I spent my first year in California going to some of the worst open mics started by drug dealers and slobs because you know what…they had the balls to speak to venues and get it done and I just wanted to find a platform that already existed, no matter how shit.

Once you do this, you start getting good at online promotions, understanding the business and before you know it 20-100 people are coming to your event.

You get the stage time, you find out comics will come easily and you pretty much get into the system.

Most comics sit around and whine that they’re not getting shows or everybody is against them – but this self-destructive nature is just you scapegoating reasons for your shortcomings.

You’re waiting 4 hours to perform for 4 people – there is a much better way to utilize your time. You could spend 2 hours promoting your own pub show and have 10 people next week. It’s not hard, it’s just work.

Sanjay Manaktala who quotes himself.

The best comedy shows aren’t put together by people who are smarter than you.

They just know how to execute.

Yes You Need Online Presence:

Look at amazing comics like Joe Rogan, Bill Burr, Andrew Schulz, and the folks in India doing amazing things on YouTube/Snapchat/Facebook etc.

Things like videos and podcasts are an amazing way to utilize your downtime to reach out way more people, who then come to your shows. Even if I put out a video that bombs at 1000 views or a podcast only 500 people listen to, that’s still way more than whoever sees me at an average show.

Andrew Schulz Hustle
Bro each of these boxes is like 10 hours of effort.

Over time, all these things tend to add up.

If comedy were a company, under the hierarchy you would have Stand Up Comedy (your main product), but then YouTube (your website and also your product), podcasts (your R&D and also your product) and Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/Instagram (your marketing team and also another creative outlet of thoughts/ideas and distribution channels).

I know the analogy is not perfect, but you get the idea.

Even with Facebook and YouTube reach down, stand up Comedians can market for free to at least 1000 people (friend list) daily, yet they put ALL their efforts in the open mic that has diminishing returns. Maybe, just maybe…move the dial just 10 percent?

You need to be actively flexing your comedy muscles throughout the day in order to churn out jokes consistently.

A lot of comics say “I dunno bro, I just get inspired and then want to churn it out at the mic” but forget they’re 20 other hours to the day.

When you’re hired for TV or ad films, you think they’re gonna wait around for you to get inspired or they’re gonna ask for 10 quick jokes about Trump or Modi or whoever.

I’m not saying go be a hack online chasing followers by copying stolen memes and Facebook pirating other videos – but work on all aspects of your product.

I hate Twitter (and snapchat) but I’m trying to understand why they work, and to some degree I get it. Tightening a thought down to 140 characters and saying something people resonate with is a fantastic skill to have which improves the way your brain thinks about new ideas or current events. And if you get 1000 RT’s on a Trump in Korea newsbite, guess who’s citing your tweet on which is then booking you at a better show next week? Sanjay Manaktala Cricket
Happens all the time bro. This wasn’t even that great a tweet but thanks fam.

People like snapchat because it’s personal, and some people do better on a Snap view count than the $1K video they spent money on.  

Someone like Bill Burr doesn’t need to put out his podcast weekly as I’m sure he’s busy or tired from all the crazy shows he does – but he also knows millions of people him discovered him through this platform and now it’s vital to what it does, aka packing his shows. (There is actually a video somewhere in which Bill talks about recording his podcast on a Voicemail because that was the only way to do it at the time!!!!)

Comics who have paid their time at the open mics/grind but also know how to play this social game have so many more tools in their arsenals, and that helps them book bigger shows and draw bigger crowds.

Promoters and clubs are still trying to run a business (and believe it or not, many just love comedy and want to break even) and care about seats, not that you’re funnier than the guy on stage. He’s working in 20 other things behind the scene, while you’re not.

So get to it.  

I once heard (I forgot where) that a comedian without Twitter is like a rapper without a mix-tape – meaning you need to advertise like everybody else bro.

Networking (SIGH)

Real-life is not a meritocracy, and you know it.

I’ve met investment bankers making $300,000 a year that I knew were the DUMBEST dudes in college, and I’ve met some of the smartest people living off of peanuts (and vice versa).

And in comedy, people booking the shows aren’t going to always book you because you’re the funniest. They just have a room to run and need to get people in the seats and leaving happy.

Guys will think hot girls are getting stage time for the most obvious reason, others will think this person is on stage because they’re rich or always bring people – but to be honest, who gives a shit?

The problem with this business is it’s so personal, and comics always want you to loosen up for their jokes but can’t really loosen up themselves.

You will meet and work with so many people in this career that you can’t afford to make cliques with fellow comics or stop meeting/shunning new people.

So many comics whine and crib, while others are just nice to everyone and do their shit.

Which one do you want to be?


Being honest, genuine and of course funny is still the most important thing you need to do in comedy, but there’s one last point most people forget…comedy isn’t about the one hour you shine on stage, it’s about the 23 hours you grind off it.

Even if you have the best app, or the best product, or the best restaurant…who in this digital age of expensive news feed real estate is going to take the time to care? So many restaurants don’t want to invest in Yelp, so many businesses don’t care about having a Facebook…but those less talented ones that do are the ones who are getting the stage time…and then getting better than those same businesses.

I urge you…please…focus on what you do off the stage and you’ll get plenty of more chances on it.

Reasons Why You're Single

Stand Up Comedy Videos by Sanjay Manaktala (ENGLISH)

On this page, you’ll quickly find the latest Stand up comedy videos in English by top Indian English stand-up comedian Sanjay Manaktala.

1. MBA and Startup People (Funny for Office Types)

Filmed in Bangalore on April 2019, Sanjay does jokes about having an MBA, some startup ideas in the pub city and some fun crowd work. Filmed at B-Flat in Bangalore, India. He also talks comedy about Swiggy and people who are obsessed with innovation.

2. IT Industry Jokes

This video just crossed 2 million views, Sanjay is known as the best comedian for your IT crowd or corporate entertainment in India.

Whether you have a corporate show at Infosys, Wipro, Microsoft or other places, let him entertain your employees and visiting clients with the humor only they know.

Comedy show filmed at Vapour in Indiranagar in 2018.

3. Indian girls and Goa and Selfies Comedy

Sanjay performs stand up comedy at the Humming Tree in Bangalore, India about girls and selfies and how we’re obsessed with taking photos.

Social media has made us all influencers and comedy about the ladies is always welcome, right ladies?

Also See: How To Be a Social Media Influencer in India with Aswathi Balakrishnan

4. Sanjay on Office Culture and Pointless Meetings

Office meetings and jokes are always fun, aren’t they?

Sanjay jokes in the Canvas Laugh Club in Mumbai, India about having meetings in the office and your work being connected to a projector.

The number one comedy club, sad that it closed last year!

5. Techie Jokes

Sanjay once again riffs on being a techie growing up in America with a series of relatable jokes about the IT industry and working in software, as well as being in America.

6. Dating in America Versus India

What’s the difference between dating a white girl versus an Indian girl? Sanjay explains in this clip from B-Flat in Indiranagar, Bangalore.

Also: Dating in India: Why You’re Single (Real Advice)

7. IT Jokes Volume 2.0 on Call Centers, Marriage and Consultants (2019)

Sanjay’s latest viral comedy clip on working in a call center in India and dealing with folks in America.

Latest stand up comedy by Sanjay Manaktala on working in tech support and a call center.

8. Interviewing at Google (stand up comedy)

9. Creepy Indian Men (stand up comedy)

Latest comedy about guys who ask you for bobs and vagene.


These are also some of the best Indian podcasts recorded by Sanjay Manaktala for the Global Comedian podcast and also the Birdy Num Num Podcast.

1. How Deodorant Helps Men Succeed in Life

2. Dating in India | Your Questions about Relationships, Ghosting and MaNo Longer Being Single


Sanjay Manaktala is one of the best English comedians in India and knows the content landscape in India better than most.

Want to book Sanjay for your comedy show or corporate event, or for help in your digital campaign or script?

Amazon: Step by Step Guide to Stand Up Comedy (for those who want to learn Stand-up comedy)

Contact us now or make sure to follow his YouTube channel!

How to be a stand up comedian in India

How to Do Stand Up Comedy

In this post, I’m going to explain how to have a stand-up comedy career in America or Australia or India (although the advice applies anywhere) and things you need to know AFTER you start getting on stage and have written a few jokes. If you haven’t even begun or are wondering how to do stand up comedy for the first time, I suggest you attend an open mic and then come back here. It’s a long post, but considering it’s the most viewed post on this site I guess we’re onto something. Thanks, friends.

Never tried comedy?: See How to Write a Joke for Stand Up

I’ve been doing comedy across the world for years. having started in Orange County and Los Angeles, California.

Two years ago I wrote about the mistakes I see newer comedy market comedians (Singapore, Thailand, India, Malaysia) make all the time.

Sanjay Manaktala BBC
On the internet you cross borders, literally.

While a lot of that stuff seemed obvious in 2016 to a comic in LA or NYC, it was received well here and I got tons of questions from comics all over the world.  Hell, some of those same comics who commented on that post are now doing great things.

Regardless, I was cleaning up my website and realized it’s been a while since I talked about standup comedy in ANY COUNTRY, what I’m seeing, what I think is happening and what my predictions will be on the trends and where I think it’s going.

how to do stand up comedy in india for the first time
Spoiler Alert: The audience is more important than your dumb Tinder story. Make them happy with original content and you’ll be happy.

If you’re interested please read on and I’m always more than happy to hear your feedback in the comments and/or social media.

I will discuss a few things that are India specific as I currently live here, but rest assured all of this will be helpful in kickstarting your comedy journey wherever you live.

I regularly do spots in NYC//SF/LA/Singapore/Hong Kong/Canada/Amsterdam and can tell you that comics are pretty much the same in any scene. Yes, New York sets are tighter, UK folks like dark humor, yada yada…but the business of comedy and the hustle are pretty much the same.

You have to be a sick individual to put yourself through this career.

Ok, I kid. This is comedy right?

I think engineering or medicine will be less painful, but ok, up to you.

We’re all trying to figure out how to write the perfect stand up comedy routine and more importantly (after you do a few mics you’ll know)…how to get people to watch it.

Regardless, no way are comedians more alike than, for most newcomers, instead of just going to an open mic and eating a fat one, they probably look for tips online on how to be a stand-up comedian in India or the UK or whatever.

So on that note, since you’re here…time some bitter truths.


1. You need to do Open Mics, they will get worse, and that’s OK.

As Indians, we often have a build first, think later mentality.

We see a formula for a movie or sketch or microbrewery or restaurant or app and we copy it and assume it will work. We bring it here and do it faster and cheaper.

With open mics, I’ve noticed (even my own advice) that the Book My Show listings have gotten out of hand. Everybody is listing an event…but, to be honest, that’s ok.

Comics need stage time and a normal byproduct of that is that audiences will get confused. “This show is Rs.150, but this one is Rs. 499 and the same comic is on both. Wait, what? What’s a trial show?!?”

Ahhh, finally we’ve arrived. This is a good problem to have.

As the years’ march on and comedy continues to grow, I hope people realize as in Europe and the US that just having a show isn’t good enough.

You need to make videos almost daily these days. The sitcom on a major studio days are over, time to play digital (when you’re ready).

Art takes effort and it’s dirty, unpolished and embarrassing. Comedians are the only ones who have to practice in public.

To stand out from the noise as a comedian and still be able to “practice your instruments”, you need to build something special so audiences can always be guaranteed a good time because that’s what they care about.

How to Organize a Good Open Mic so You’ll actually write a good stand up comedy routine?

Why do some comedians rise faster than others? It’s quite simple, they get on stage more. In fact, some comics I know get on stage more in a month than other comics get on in a year.

Who’s gonna do better?

So How do you start an open mic?

  • Invest in a brand, like “the South Indian Comedy Club.” that you can do in various cities or pubs.
  • Make a property like Tequila Tuesday Comedy Nights at Toit BrewPub (fictional example)
  • Differentiate your show, give free stuff, encourage audience participation, make a comedian have a beer before he goes up, read live tweets, whatever.
  • Focus on more audience, not more comedians. The comics will come…oh they’ll come.
  • Take good photos or videos of the crowd, ensure you’re maintaining a good FB page or IG.
  • Build buzz, pass flyers, make a FB event, learn how to market yet not spam.
  • Invite friends, walk on the pavement and pass out flyers an hour before the gig, put in the groundwork.
  • There is no stand-up comedy template, and existing joke structures like rule-of-3 and such are helpful in the beginning…but the closest thing you’ll get to a stand-up comedy template is the points above.
  • If you run a good room, you will GET GOOD FAST because you have 20 minutes of stage time a week that YOU OWN and *drumroll* a REAL AUDIENCE.

For the love of God, play upbeat music for the 30 minutes your audience is settling into the venue. Anyone who goes up to silence and doesn’t know how to set the tone for the room deserves to bomb.

If you build it they will still come but make sure you BUILD IT TO LAST.

Nobody gives a shit that you got a coffee shop to give you a corner room.

dating advice india nice guys finish last

What are you doing to make sure an audience comes?

Why are you buying a coffee/beer to an empty venue and a wasted evening instead of putting that 300 INR in FB ads to promote it?

Why are seven comics standing by the door smoking cigarettes when they should be inside filling up seats, so the people who do peek inside to see if they should join don’t get intimidated by an empty venue and 7 strangers?

I mean if you don’t value your time, why would an audience member?

SA Aravind and me discussing stand up comedy and writing and of course ego is the frenemy.

2. the Low Hanging Viral Comedy Fruit is finally getting scarce.

I think most of us who started in the last eight years got a little lucky in that we got views on jokes which were probably not the most inventive, it’s just nobody had ever heard that stuff on stage before.

Indian mothers (I’m guilty) are like this, Flying is like that, Punjabis and Gujus are this way, Engineers are virgin, etc….. Now that the views have come and gone, you’re going to see that just putting a stand-up clip where you kill in a crowd isn’t enough. It has to offer a more personal point of view, more unique, AND crush as hard as the generosity of all the applause breaks of years passed. AND let’s be honest…do you really REALLY care that Delhi is so different from Mumbai?

I’m not saying don’t talk about your Mom, I’m just saying tell us a story, make it specific, and really think about if anybody else could tell the same story.

Also, one thing I’ve learned watching those who have really done well digitally the last few years, you HAVE TO BE consistent. (I wish I followed my own advice).

A million views on one video in a month can actually be worse than 250K views on 4 videos, 4 weeks in a row.

Try to write about things you haven’t seen anybody discuss on any YouTube videos before, and if you’re getting laughs, you’re on the right track.

3. Newer Comedians Need to Remember to live their lives

I know comics complain.

Man don’t we all.

In a country where it only matters that you did better than your neighbor…we compare…a LOT.

In fact, watch any cricket match at a bar and listen to the conversations around you. Many Indian businessmen are people who will never follow their dreams so they need to compare those who are following theres to feel better.

Sachin/Virat, Federer/Nadal and just one year in your comedy journey someone will say “He is trying to be a Russell Peter.”

Singular. Peter.

You know every comedian you see on Netflix has heard that last line?

It can get ugly.

I compare myself to myself. And I miss having less gray hair.

If I could shake myself in 2010 I’d say just focus on what you’re doing, not checking Facebook to see who is doing what.

I always tell people,

“if comics wrote even 5% of the time they complained, they’d have nothing to complain about because that 5% would get them a new hour every year.”

Newer comics ask me how I write, or what the principles of writing and performing stand up comedy are.

Principles? Huh?

I get it, you’re looking for any bit of ted talk wisdom to give you the secret sauce, but like bro…don’t steal jokes and try to write for 10 minutes a day about anything.

Even if it’s just 5 bullet points in your phone. Because that’s more than most.

But after you figure basic joke structure from watching 10 comedians and analyzing it 100 times with ur other open micers…all I can tell you is….


Instead of reading every tweet, or every insider blog or industry whispers….maybe, just maybe…spend that time hanging out with friends outside of comedy, go to the gym, take a walk, chill with your girlfriend or boyfriend…and DO STUFF.

Your audience does exactly that and they’re the one you need to relate to remember?

If you don’t go to the gym like they do, go on dates like they do, watch the shows they do, work like they do, unwind like they do…what exactly will you have to say to them?

4. Stand Up Comedy is WAY MORE than JUST being on stage, especially in 2019

One thing even I’ve changed my viewpoint on, and maybe I’m channeling my inner Gary Vee, is that the industry has changed across the world.

Going “Viral” in an age of constant scrolling doesn’t mean anything anymore. Hell, even this blog post might get a few head nods before the readers move on to something else.

Where’s that link to HOW TO DO DSLR PHOTOGRAPHY IN 2019 when you need it?

As comedians especially in India I still see so many people spending 5 hours around attending an open mic (traffic, hanging out, performing, eating, going home) and that whole time was simply in service of 10 minutes on stage.


Were you learning video editing, PhotoShop, planning a podcast (and I mean actually scripting one), planning your social media posts for the week, writing a book maybe?

I’m not saying you won’t get famous just off of stand up, but I’m saying for most of us, you really need to stretch your creative muscles far beyond what you’re currently doing.

And you know I’m right.

Everything you do should be in service of getting on stage, don’t get me wrong.

developer meme
You’ll need to practice making memes like this. They will get better with time tho.

The right clip or sketch or content gets you to the front of the line, but I wish comedians didn’t look down on social media people that are hustling in their own right.

If you can figure out social media, having a stand-up comedy background…the world is your oyster.

A YouTuber can’t do stand up, but a stand up who kills at YouTube has a very lucrative career.

Now to depress you even more:

Skills a Stand Up Comedian also needs in 2019

  • Video Editing
  • Motion Graphics
  • Podcasting
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Screenwriting
  • Blogging (Hi!)
  • Basic Web Design
  • Public Speaking
  • Story Telling
  • Copyrighting
  • Advertising
  • SEO
  • Digital Marketing
  • DSLR Film Making
  • YouTube Film Making (yes they’re different)
  • VLogging
  • Improvisation
  • Stage Production
  • Event Management
  • Crowd Control
  • Oh…and you also have to be great at writing jokes.

Amazon: the Podcast Recorder you Need to Also Record Live Sets

It’s midway through 2019 and trust me things have changed.

And in 2020 they might change again.

A lot of you have Instagrams and Facebook’s but don’t even have a website or a simple “Email me for Bookings” link.


5. Gatekeepers don’t really exist. Your content is the gate. ANYBODY can get 1M views online.

Any open mic in this country has comics discussing who got what show, what special, what deal, what video, etc…

Let me tell you something.

Even some of the comedians who have Amazon or Netflix specials might be broke (not just in India).

And many comics who don’t have those specials are doing just fine.

I have no clue who this kid is or if that’s even a real audience or mp3 laughter. But good for him, and this shows you the market is WIDE open.

It’s nice to be in a group or in an agency, but ultimately, your value is not dictated by any organization.

All you have to do is have some clever bits succeed (that’s the hard part) and then build a following online (that’s the harder part) and then consistently monetize that following (the hardest part).  

Renting an auditorium or recording more sketches will come super easy once you’ve done that. 

Sure it’s nice to get on a show or be in front of a crowd but every single comedian has performed for 5000 one night and 5 the next. 

You’re in it for the long haul right?

NEVER let yourself think “If this comedian just gave me this opportunity” I’d be fine.

Once you get 5M views on your own video without that comedian’s help, he’ll be asking to be on your show.

6. Even the Best Stand Up Comedians Need to Take More Risks and Fail

Some of my good friends and hilarious/viral comedians are absolutely horrible at being funny on Instagram.

They can tell the jokes on stage, but beyond that, they really don’t do much. And trust me, they’re not too busy to learn the other skills. They just are banking on stand up, and that’s fine.

But at the same time, our industry in this country is putting its eggs in one basket.

Comics across the world are minting money on writing for ads, doing podcasts, handling corporate training, running their own rooms (even after getting famous).

Why aren’t we?

You were 35 when you started doing stand up, now at 45 you can’t talk into a mic on your laptop to discuss a few things?

Advice: You can work at Infosys and still become a famous comedian. Plus you’ll have a well-rounded life.

In fact, one great thing I see now is comics who have been protecting their position of “experience” now realizing newcomers are outshining them in a matter of a year or two.

As stage time gets more scarce I hope I see my fellow older comics (many of whom are now much more successful than me) continue to mentor, to blog, to write, to fail publicly and do things other than protecting an image they don’t realize they once weren’t so protective of. I love watching old Bill Burr clips, of him, even after he made it driving around and just rambling and seeing it peak at 20K views. And you know what, he didn’t give a fU*k.

7. Ego is the Enemy

One of the worst parts about the comedy boom, or any boom, is a lot of people attribute having luck with having talent. I’m sure it was true for the Gold Rush or the Dot Com Boom, and I’m sure it’s true for our Indian comedy boom.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m friends with all the comics we love and know, but I’ve had my own personal friends/colleagues act pricey with me for no reason. I even had a comic who I spent hours editing a video for, when he was fairly new, then tell me years later he doesn’t want to do my podcast cause “he’s not doing podcast these days.”

But that’s fine man.

I learned many years ago that you shouldn’t expect anything from anyone and everybody is going through their own struggles and way of doing things. 

So if you’re running a room and a lot of comics burn up your stage but never get YOU on another stage, that’s ok.

Just keep doing you.

If you helped somebody get famous, congratulations on guiding that person to whatever their destiny was meant to be. You’re lucky you’re in a country where even a shitty open mic gets 10 people, so just please count your blessings and keep moving forward. 

And if another 20 kids email you asking for advice…don’t be a dick, stop stalking that girl on Instagram and try to reply once in a while to people who can do nothing for you. Don’t go out of your way, but don’t be a jerk for no reason.

8. A Note on Indian Stand Up Comedy Earnings

Look…I get asked this question all the time and since four of you emailed me in the last 8 days asking, I’m jotting it down here.

Let me get one thing clear for those of you wondering how much Indian stand up comedians get paid.

Nothing for the first two to three years.

You hear me?

Sure, some comedians make 10K per show, a few make 10 lak per show, and a lucky few make much more.

August 2019: How Much Do Stand Up Comedians in India Earn or Make?

But as with anything in life, if it were that easy, everybody would be doing it. In reality, if you expect money out of this you will burn out and quit much earlier.

Pro Tip: Don’t expect to get paid for your first three years, and if you keep a clear head with that, you’ll probably start making 3-5K per show after a few.

CONCLUSION aka my big Closer

ALSO: How Do I Get More Stage Time?

ALSO: Ten Mistakes Indian Stand Up Comics Made

ALSO: Who or What Enables your Mediocrity?

So yeah, that’s about it for now.

I run this room in Bangalore. The room is for the crowd, not for you. Tell them it’s starting in 15 minutes, take their feedback, as for video testimonials, and share their photos on social media.

I’m happy to see the market increasing, but I’m sure I speak for most comics when I say…all of us…beginner to veteran…could do a lot more than we’re currently doing. And if you’re new to comedy, you can get years ahead in a matter of months if you just PUT IN THE TIME, and EFFORT.

  • WRITE.

Comedians make a living on calling out people who could do better.

Unfortunately I wish we did that to the mirror to.

So get to it.

Sanjay Manaktala is one of the top stand up comedians in India who started building the comedy community in the country back in 2010. Since then his stand up comedy videos and podcasts have helped millions laugh or get motivated. His latest effort is the Birdy Num Num podcast, helping you learn creativity in life after engineering. You can learn about Sanjay here or check out his YouTube channel here.