Stand-up comic Anuvab Pal on being cool at 40
Anuvab Pal's new show turns the spotlight right back at him, and comics in India
Anuvab Pal started making the audience crack up with his jokes on the idiosyncrasies of Indians when the stand-up phenomenon gathered steam in Mumbai six years ago.
Since then, he has travelled far with packed shows. Pal is now turning the joke on himself with his new autobiographical show, Alive At 40, this weekend.The show, he says, will be more about comedy and the the life comedians in India, their experiences, and how they see the world. To explain that this apparently serious theme is not so, he says, “I will quote the film Shakespeare in Love. It is a series of certain catastrophes on the road leading to imminent disaster. I can think of any number of professions that have it better. Perhaps not under Modi's demonetisation, but at another time.”
He elaborates with an example: “When we started doing stand-ups, some companies invited us to perform, though they were not sure of what to expect. A spare parts supplier in Baroda told me that the last time they had invited a performer, he had jumped into the crowd and asked if I could do something like that. I asked him if
he wanted me to jump before or after the performance, and he replied that he will ask his seniors and get back.
Personal experiences are, of course, never personal. So there will be demonetisation, too. “The take is personal. It is about how for the older Indian the bank is a person. When they would think of depositing or collecting money, they would think of the person they are familiar with at the bank,” he explains.So is it hard to be alive at 40 as a comedian? “Definitely,” he says, adding, “The fact that you made it this far means the joke is probably on you (me). The question you get from younger comedians is not,oh when is the show but, oh, he's still alive? And he's still doing stand up?
Pal says that sometimes, just to act cool, he yells out a Hindi curse during a meeting, and when everyone stares in silence, he says sorry in a British accent. The ace comedian, however, still gets the jitters with every show. “I've done about 3,500 shows so far, but still, every new one makes me nervous. Every time I am standing backstage, I promise myself, this is the last one. Why do I do this? Why did I fly all this way to do this?” he says.For this show, Pal says that he had adequate inspiration from all the 40-year-olds around him. He got the idea for the show from a school reunion, where a friend of his wore a T-shirt that had “Stud for the ladies” written just where his belly began curving.“It's funny because we often can't see how comic we are to the 20-year-olds who do comedy. For them, seeing us perform would be the same as going to, say, Jurassic Park for the first time. And then we open our mouths and that doesn't make us any more hip.”
On December 3, 8pm onwards
At Godrej Dance Theatre, NCPA Marg, Fort
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