The next stage! Vipul Goyal back in a new web-series
After making the nation roar with laughter with Barely Speaking With Arnub, Vipul Goyal is back as the protagonist in a new web-series
As we step into the Andheri East office of The Viral Fever on a Tuesday evening, through the glass doors we see around 40 people huddled in the hall. A narration session is on, we are told. The setting is not what one expects — typically held behind closed doors with only the core group. "But, that's how we do things at TVF. More feedback, more fine-tuning. And feedback here has got nothing to do with one's position of power," says Vipul Goyal, comedian-actor and a core founding member of the comedy collective.'
Goyal, 33, has just made his debut as an actor in TVF's latest web-series Humorously Yours, the second episode of which airs today. He plays a struggling comedian on the show and is stoked by the reviews so far. "Every Indian child dreams of being an actor or a cricketer at least once in their life. I have only done standup and comedy writing for four years, this is my break as an actor," says the IIT Mumbai graduate, who self-admittedly, was the first to be laid off from his job, during the 2008 recession. Not that it surprised him. "I used to spend all my time in office reading transcripts of F.R.I.E.N.D.S., to teach myself the craft of comedy writing," he recalls with a smile.
With engineering out of the way, he decided to try his hand at theatre. "I had some stage experience from my IIT days, so I thought why not try my luck in theatre. But, that didn't work out. I knew, though, that I had a thing for comedy, because the plays I used to do, were funny plays. I met Arunabh Kumar (presently, TVF CEO) who used to make short films at the time and I would act in them. I had also begun my standup career by then. The AIB boys — Tanmay [Bhatt], Ashish [Shakya], Rohan [Joshi], [Gursimran] Khamba — along with me, were the first batch of comedians to perform at The Comedy Store, back in 2010," Goyal says. His association with Arunabh finally led to TVF being formed two years later, and he completely shifted his attention to the new venture. "I have been heading its Live section since then," says Goyal who was the head writer of the hugely popular sketch Barely Speaking with Arnub.
There were a few initial stumbling blocks in his transition as an actor, facing the camera for the first time, but he soon eased into his new role. He says the fact that it is such a close-knit community helps. The second episode of the show features AIB headliner Tanmay Bhat in a pivotal role. One would imagine it's a casting coup, given that he's the face of a rival comedy collective. "On the contrary, it's not. All the comedians you see on the show, who have their own setups, were on board after a single phone call. We are collectively fighting the same battle — against average mainstream television content. And that's all that matters. Also, this show being about the life of a comedian, it is essential to show the comedy universe. How does one do that without showing the big names!" Goyal says. He also reveals his connection with AIB. "I'm the common link between AIB and TVF. I knew Tanmay long before the existence of our collectives. The TVF guys were my friends even before we were doing comedy."
The idea behind Humorously Yours, he says, was to create something that takes a peek into the life of a comedian. "People think we crack jokes all the time. And even when we express a view, intending for it to be completely normal, we are told, 'nahi, yeh funny nahi tha'. I wear glasses and people say things like, 'he looks so serious, how will he make people laugh'. Sometimes, they show you a joke on WhatsApp and ask you to say it on stage, because 'yeh funny rahega'. The story borrows from such experiences. I've had great feedback so far. In fact, I spend my days going through the comments over and over again. Do I want to do acting full-time? That depends on how the overall season fares. Right now, I'm enjoying this adulation phase," Goyal says beaming.
A walk through Mohammed Ali Road's Khau Galli