Mumbai’s had its fair share of international comics over the past few weeks, what with Shazia Mirza, Phil Nichol and Scott Capurro all making the audience laugh their way back home. Sowhat makes British comic Chris Turner’s gig in the city such a must-go-to?
The 23-year-old, who studied anthropology and archaeology at Oxford, has a repertoire of one-liners and witty gags, and his recitation of the periodic table -- with an element of surprise, of course -- is a winner. But what sets him apart is his ability to compose freestyle rap with words, less connected to each other than chalk and cheese, thrown at him.
Turner, who decided to become a full-time comedian barely a few weeks after he graduated two years ago, says he can’t wait to get in front of the Mumbai crowd. He refuses to divulge whether he’s written jokes specific to Mumbai as yet.
One thing’s certain though; you’re not going to find anything politically incorrect at this gig. For although there’s not much he wouldn’t make fun of, Turner is careful about not hurting his audience’s sentiments. “It’s a matter of making sure that any jokes you tell are funnier than they are hurtful. If you’re making more people upset than amused, you’re doing it wrong. There are some comedians who can find humour in anything from the dreadful to the dreary -- I’m not one of them at the moment -- but I would hope that one day I’ll be good enough to do so,” admits the comedian.
Back when he started, he relied mainly on one-liners. “I felt it was a style of delivery that enhanced the jokes and hiding nerves,” he reveals. He now manages to calm his nerves with stretches, deep breathing and a whole lot of hardcore gangsta rap, but his worst nightmare continues to haunt him. “No audience/ Standing audience/Audience who don’t care/Persistent heckling/No microphone/No microphone stand/No stage/No Lights -- I’ve had each of those at a gig before -- if you combine them all (and ignore the impossibility of having no audience, but a standing audience), you have the worst show possible,” he says before delivering his punchline, “If it was a real nightmare then I’d be naked, but if there’s one thing I’m great at, it’s turning up to shows fully clothed.”