A regional rant! A comedian will tell you what it means to be Gujju

Updated: Dec 18, 2016, 12:44 IST | Anju Maskeri

Culling witty observations about his own clan, 29-year-old RJ-turned-comedian Manan Desai will tell you what it means to be Gujju this Saturday at the Canvas Laugh Club


Manan Desai

Having grown up in Gujarat, Manan Desai was all too familiar with the quirks of his community. “We have started naming our children Jesus Mehta and Simple Patel in the hope that these western-sounding names will help us secure a visa,” he says with much seriousness. Known for cracking jokes with a poker face, Desai is the face and the mind behind The Comedy Factory, a small group of people who have taken the urban Gujarati comedy scene by storm. Now, he is set to give Mumbai a taste of his wry humour, with A-Shuddh Gujarati, a 75-minute act on Saturday at the Canvas Laugh Club. In the first of its kind Gujarati-cum-English language gig, Desai hopes to deconstruct the Gujju stereotype. 

For starters, the 29-year-old wants to dispel a couple of myths about his clan. “People think we think Gujaratis don’t like non-vegetarian food. But, a survey published by the Registrar General of India this year, revealed that Gujarat has more people eating non-vegetarian food than in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan! Can you beat that?” he says, while chatting with his us over the phone from Baroda. It’s almost blasphemous if we don’t mention Narendra Modi in this conversation. “We cannot stand jokes on Modi, unless we are the ones cracking them. However, after demonetisation, he’s slightly fallen out of favour. Now, people don’t mind listening to criticism. You can divide it into BC and AD (Before Currency and After Demonetisation),” he says, adding that he plans to include an act on demonetisation in the show.

The former RJ dived headlong into stand up comedy in 2011, buoyed by his success on radio. “I used to crack a lot of jokes on radio, and people loved it. So I decided to get into stand-up but, I s**ked. My first show was really, really bad. Nobody laughed,” he recalls. Undaunted, Desai continued with his acts, slowly garnering a bigger audience. “Gujarat lacked a good entertainment scene to begin with. A dry state with the same kind of theatre playing since the last two decades, comedy needed a facelift,” he says. Desai banked on his social observation and community traits as fodder for his jokes. Some, he says, have offended people. “I’ve done the same act in Ahemdabad, Baroda and Surat. I remember once a man came up to me and said, ‘how can you say all this about your own community?’ All I said was, you are the reason.”

However, Desai believes his clan can take humour directed at them. “They like laughing at themselves. At the end of the day, we are happy go lucky people, who enjoy a good joke.”

Where: Canvas Laugh Club, 3rd Floor, Palladium, High Street Phoenix, Tulsi Pipe Road, Lower Parel
When: Dec 24, 6 pm
Entry: R500
Call: 9004603115

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