Exclusive Interview with Stand Up Comedian Bhargav Ramakrishnan over his latest ‘Kungfu Bonda’ which Streams on Amazon Prime

30 . Apr . 2020
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Baggy takes you on a hilarious journey about growing older, the changes it brings and coming to terms with it. His observations on adulting, parents, marriage, sex and grill gates will leave you in splits, while his anecdotal stories will keep you gripped through the show. Guaranteed to leave you laughing, content and hopefully a little more at peace with your own life’s developments. We got in touch with Bhargav for an exclusive interview over his show and to know more about him.

 

What inspired you to start a career in Stand-up comedy

I have always been in the arts, I have always been a full-time actor, director, producer and arts manager. I have been working in this space since college. In 2011, when I was working with a performance arts company, I had an idea of our company venturing out to stand-up comedy. At that time stand-up comedy was not a common thing in south India including cities like Chennai and Bangalore. We then decided to audition and find people and see if we can help them come up with comedic monologues and that was my foray into stand-up started as a producer and a manager of comedians. After continuing this for over 3 years I thought of continuing by myself. As I am an actor myself and have helped all these guys write their material and hone their performance, I thought of giving it a shot myself as I too enjoy being on stage. So, in 2014 I decided that I was done being just a producer and I want to perform stand-up and get on the stage myself and there has been no turning back ever since because stand-up as an art form is amazing. The high you get on stage, just being yourself alone on stage and speaking words that you wrote and when you realise the audience loves it, when they laugh and you get gratification and instant feedback, I think that high is unparalleled. so that is what has kept me fuelled and made me continue doing what I am doing.

We have a wave of comedians coming from South India, any comments?

I really think it’s a good thing. I think if there are more comedians coming and if there are more people taking up comedy that’s because they are watching more shows and they wish to give the art form a try and they want to give it a shot. I also believe more people doing stand-up also means more people watching stand-up and in a country with more than a billion people, I think we have scope of lot of audience who can consume this art form. More people are consuming it right now in the south, not only in the tier I cities, but also in tier II cities and towns – this is all a positive momentum for the art. I think it will be great. I am always pro for live performing arts, I think anyone doing any kind of live performance arts should be encouraged. So the fact that it is happening to Standup – something that I do is just a nice bonus.

What is your writing process like?

Writing is not something that comes naturally to me. it is something I do struggle with. Even now, almost 5 years into the field I dread the idea of writing my next special. I love being onstage – when I am performing that’s where I feel at home. So, I love performing but behind the scenes writing is something I find very difficult to do. A lot of my material is based on life experience or is observational, so I try to put myself through situations and experiences in life and when I reflect on those moments, that’s what comes out as material for me. But in order to be able to write these down, to come up with jokes, to work on the craft the skill of writing itself, I try to sit and write on a regular basis. I don’t succeed very often, but there will be weeks when I am able to be regular about it, when I am able to sit down and spend time in front of an open document where I am typing for a fixed numbers of hours in a day. Not that I am able to write anything, but the point is similar to that of going to a gym. It is the muscle that you need to keep active and keep flexed. When inspiration does strike and you do come up with a good joke, you already have the skill required because you have been doing it every day and the day you sit down with inspiration you will be able to find your next joke, next set, next special.

For me how do I capture inspiration that comes to me is that I have a WhatsApp group with only myself in it. So whenever I think of something funny, I immediately voice note it. I don’t just voice note it, I try to perform it silently into my phone. As soon as I think about it, I like to capture the moment when I found it most funny, so when I go back and sit down to write I listen to these voice notes and try to put myself back in that mind set where I found something funny, where I was inspired by a thought of an observation and try and write it down as a joke. So this process of just sticking to a discipline of doing this is a struggle for me and I procrastinate and writing doesn’t come naturally to me.

It’s a fight, it’s a fight with habit, at times I win in this fight and those times I’d like to say that I am quiet funny and yeah I like to think of myself as humbly clever and intelligent and very very funny and hopefully the people who watch my special on Amazon Prime Video will agree with me.

In a lot of your shows you talk about your love for food, now that you live alone, do you cook?

I love food, it is an integral part of my life. I think one of the continuous ongoing pleasure and joy of my life to live for is just tasting and enjoying great food day in and day out. I don’t live alone; I live with my wife actually. But yes, I do cook, especially during this lockdown. I really have been able to reconnect with my kitchen, reconnect with my joy of cooking. I cook a lot.

As a comedian and a content creator, do you feel a certain moral responsibility to create fun content that might help cheer up your fans in times like this COVID-19 lockdown?

As a comedian, content creator and artist I’d say, I don’t feel any moral responsibilities to create funny content to cheer people up. But as a comedian your job is when people come to you and consume your content to make them laugh, that is our job. But I think, that also as an artist, I feel my responsibility is or rather my job is to reflect on experiences, to reflect on what I am going through in life because I believe when I reflect on that and talk about that I will connect with other people who are also going through similar experiences in life and the COVID-19 global lockdown is a very unique experience. It’s something no one had expected, it has taken everybody by surprise. It is a life changing incident and therefore as an artist I think my job is to reflect on this and write about this and bring it to my show and hopefully people will like it.

When it comes to writing content for people during lockdown, yes, I am writing so that I don’t drive myself mad. I don’t have any shows due to lockdown, but my special has come out on Amazon Prime Video recently and hopefully it will cheer people up.

Who is your favourite comedian?

This is a difficult question. I don’t think I have one favourite. There are many comedians that I really enjoy but since this is happening during the launch of my special, I think the comedian who was inspirational with respect to my latest special is Mike Birbiglia. While watching his show, he gave me a feeling of what I wanted to share with my audience. His show ‘My girlfriends other boyfriend’ was the show that I saw when I was putting together and writing Kung Fu Bonda and he was really impactful in making me rethink my special, working on it more and giving it the shape it has today.

Other comedians who I have defiantly been inspired by is Eddie Izzard, I think he is really funny and I love the theatrics he takes up on stage and acts he does, and the fact that he is in a costume all the time, I love it. I also really like Joe Rogan, his podcasts are fun and his stand-up is really funny.

What is the next milestone for you?

Now that I a have special on Amazon Prime, I think the next milestone is to have my own show or a YouTube channel. Someplace where I can regularly put up content for people to consume. I want to increase the frequency at which I create content and definitely want it to go digital because I want to play with the medium of film a lot more rather than just doing live.

So basically, to write, to create, to design a show or a channel of my own is definitely is a great milestone.

Another thing that I wanted to do in the beginning of the year was to do more than a 100 shows this year, but now with March, April and May out of the picture now we suddenly have 4 months less to do the same number of shows I wanted to. I think I am going to use this Amazon release as an opportunity to try and see if I can still hit the number of shows in what’s left of the year. Those are going to be my milestones.