Stand up Comedy in India is Booming in 2019.
I started much of the stand-up comedy wave in India and Bangalore with Praveen Kumar and Sundeep Rao back in 2010, and although I don’t attend the open mic’s as much anymore, I’m happy to see what has become of the scene(well, mostly). Indian comedy clubs are opening up everywhere, audiences are hungry for fresh, unique content and with so much diversity that is India there is honestly a joke for ANYTHING.
STAND-UP COMEDY IN INDIA AND BANGALORE’S ROLE
Bengaluru has the most stand up comedy nights in the country and has set the tone for how the rest of the nation operates. In fact it has the most diverse crowds in the country, as comedy crowds in Bangalore speak English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil and more.
Amazon Prime and YouTube are also giving more exposure to Indian stand up comedians from all walks of Indian life, whether Punjabi, Tamil, Bengali, Kannadiga and of course English.
Canvas Laugh Club is also a household name despite some legal troubles and its unique backdrop has quickly been cemented as the signs of a video to watch, much like the Hollywood Laugh Factory did in California.
It’s nice to see the comedy scene growing, and comedians from Mumbai and Delhi and Chennai are constantly coming down here (even though our travel from the airport to the city longer than their flight from Mumbai).
I personally enjoy the market in Bangalore as it’s predominantly English which is great for in-person shows, corporate events, and diverse crowds… yet tough online in the Hindi dominating Indian digital space.
So I thought I’d start keeping a list of the best comedy videos for Indian stand up that I see month to month.
But first, for the Indian comedy newbie…
What is Stand Up Comedy?
For this post, Stand up comedy in India is defined as:
- live crowds who aren’t part of a TV-set,
- a mix of English and whatever language,
- avoiding hack jokes, yet obviously exploring topics like MBA, engineering, porn (if you have a clever take), clean family friendly jokes and pretty much anything that gets Indians to giggle and probably share funny videos on whatsApp.
- bars and comedy clubs,
- YouTube and podcaster style comics.
- And lastly, the comics in this list are folks who know legendary names like Carlin, Chris Rock, Chappelle and so on.
I’m defining Stand up Comedy in this country not as what you see Raju Srivasta or Kapil Sharma do nightly, but more along the lines of Vir Das, Netflix, and the Western-Indian style of stand-up comedy. Those guys are also great, but generally operate in a different space and market. (And it’s probably more lucrative too) than what I know personally.
Regardless, although YouTube has yet to be kind to comics who remain in namma Bengaluru, here are my five current favorites desi comedians from the city that I also think have some of the best videos in India.
I will continue to update this list so if you have any suggestions do let me know.
The beauty of stand up comedy as we saw from that Bassi cheating clip recently, is anybody, and I mean anybody who puts in the effort can leverage the democracy that is the internet. Those who have been doing it for 1 year can quickly perform at a level of someone doing it for 10, and if you can hit a chord with your audience you will be rewarded.
I hope some of these folks below get their shake.
Give them a watch!
1.Satish Perumal – Marketing Comedian
I was at this show and I remember seeing SATISH kill it. South Indian weddings aren’t as fun as the North, but laughing about them can be. Satish Perumal is a big part of that comedy group called the Bangalore Comedy Club. He cracks some funny jokes about growing up in defense family also, but more so gives insights into the unique comedy culture of the south and train journeys between Bangalore and Chennai. Very relatable and highly hilarious.
Also Is that Mallu actress Madhuri Braganza in the front BTW?
2.Vamsidhar Bhogaraju – Kannada English Comedy
There is arguably no better physical comedian in India that I personally know. Actor turned funnyman Vamsidhar Bhogaraju’s most hilarious video moments happen when he says nothing. Not many comics (myself included) can be the loudest with silence, and Vamsi does just that with his facial expressions and physical gestures.
This stand up comedy act out about Swiggy and landlines is hilarious.
An ex marketing manager who know acts in films and can do both funny and serious roles, in this clip Vamsi tells jokes about heartbreak and an experience in wrong numbers everybody in Bangalore can relate to.
Hilarious and please wait till that ending!
Aside from having to google his last name to figure the spelling right, Shridhar works hard, still has a day job and is so PUNNY with his tweets I can’t help but admire his hustle. He’s also grinding in a way I like to see comedians grind, with a series called Prime Time jokes where he smartly talks about current events that can quickly be written about, delivered and released. Mark my words, he’ll be a big name on Indian twitter and amongst the “intelligent political” comedy crowds because of his take on humor you’ll likely find based on Times NOW or CNBC.
Just yesterday he got to open up for friend Kunal Kamra, who ironically probably looks the most opposite on stage to well dressed Shridhar.
Well done buddy.
I used to confuse Rupen with Shridhar because they’re both such clean cut kids, if that makes sense. But my favorite line of the year comes from this set, which you should watch but is basically:
In India, if you follow your dreams, you parents will use your dreams to kill your dreamsRupen on sports quota for medical students.
Glad to see Rupen do his podcast also.
This video with some super clever insights any kid who is interested in stand up comedy about engineering or an MBA would easily relate to, and the writing is very well done.
5. Comedian Praveen | Tamil Comedy Video Star
I’ve known him forever, but nobody invents himself more and more than Praveen Kumar. Early on Praveen had a hard time getting accepted into the cliques in Mumbai, even though he was one of the first to perform at Canvas, which was then owned by the London Comedy Store.
From English stand up comedy to clean comedy to Tamil clean comedy to now Tamil clean comedy and movie reviews and Comicstaan, the amount of haters and idiots who gave Praveen stuff in the early day’s of comedy would have made me quit years ago. In fact most comedians who struggle still do.
Now he’s doing better than ever as a judge on Comicstaan Tamil (and has mentored the judges on the main Comicstaan) and well-done bro.
So happy for you.
But aside from the bromance, the main reason I dropped CPK on this list is because….he holds the record in Indian comedy for most viral video over an hour.
Who would have thought doing a full one hour special comedy video in Tamil would get nearly 3M views!!!!! Big ups to Evam stand up Tamasha for producing this great video for him.
BRO!!!! ONE HOUR!?!?!
They’re many stand up comics in Bangalore and India but these are just some of my favorites. If you’re a fan of the North Indian style of comedy, you’ll likely not prefer these folks as someone like Vipul Goyal or Zakir Khan, but the beauty of comedy, just like ice cream, is there is a flavor for literally everyone.
The key is to be the comic that most folks want to order two scoops of 🙂
Questions or suggestions? Comment below.
If you’re in Bangalore do check out the vibrant stand up comedy scene here.