Comedian Sorabh Pant hosts first edition of The Guide Connects in Mumbai
A young audience has a roaring time with comedian Sorabh Pant at the first edition of The Guide Connects
Pant takes a selfie with Parth Kotadia
An eatery in BKC is readying for a takeover at 4 pm on a Tuesday. Seating is being shifted around to face the bar that is being converted into a makeshift stage. Twelve eager youngsters in their late teens and twenties start occupying the chairs. And dot at 4.15, stand-up comic and author Sorabh Pant walks into SodaBottleOpenerWala to host the inaugural edition of The Guide Connects — a platform that sets up a social influencer on a date with our young readers.
The audience cracks up
What follows for the next hour and a half is a free-flowing conversation where the audience picks the comic's brain with carefully crafted questions. One example is, "How do you carry on with a routine that you know the audience will find funny, but you have become bored of yourself?" Another is, "When you are writing content about issues like depression, racism or sexism, how do you go about it being careful about the topic you are addressing?" Or, "How has travelling abroad a lot impacted your work as a comedian?"
Bunty Biswas asks a question
Pant answers all these with careful consideration. But he also includes anecdotes in his replies that are sometimes so bizarre, that they end up being funny. What else do you say about the time that he was invited to perform at a college in Jaipur that has the unfortunate abbreviation of SEKS? Or, about the time that a baked audience member lit up a funky cigarette right outside the venue after being evicted — filling the hall up with a pungent smell — regardless of the fact that a top cop was seated in the audience? His replies are testament to Pant's obvious gift for improvised comedy. But the point of this exercise is not just to leave the audience in splits. It's also to give them an insight into what makes a successful funny man's brain function.
Sorabh Pant hosts the first edition of The Guide Connects. PICS/ashish rane, sameer markande
Which bodes well for Bunty Biswas, an attendee who is a comedian himself. And for Pankaj Sharma and Hasan Baldiwala, who organise comedy events.
Some people, though, are here simply because they are massive fans. But possibly the biggest of them all is Prashant Pradhan, a 28-year-old orthopaedic surgeon. He skipped lunch to finish two consecutive operations, just so that he could make it in time for the tête-à-tête with his favourite stand-up artiste.
Guests went away with Pant’s book and tickets to his show
But like all good things have to come to an end, this evening too starts winding up after the final round of questions. People go up to Pant for selfies, which adorn their social media profiles in a matter of minutes. Small bites are passed around, along with cola and cold coffee. The comedian entertains some of his fans with casual banter, before making his way to a book-signing event. And when all of them finally head out of the restaurant's door, they do so with an obvious sense of satisfaction that is born not just out of the goodie bags — with two passes to Pant's upcoming show and autographed copies of his book, Pawan — that they are carrying in their hands.
It's also because of the wholly engaging evening that they were all part of, and which they aren't about to forget in a hurry.
The grub served to guests at Sodawaterbottleopenerwala
What sort of comedy have you derived from newspapers for your shows?
Ninety percent of the current show I am doing, Make India Great Again [check listing for the next performance], is derived from newspaper articles. I am talking about India's relationship with multiple countries. I am also talking about Indian politics a lot, things like the Aadhaar card and demonetisation. So, there's enough material in newspapers to be inspired by and use as jokes.
What is the funniest thing about being a husband, and a father?
When you're just a husband, your relationship with your partner is about providing time, love and attention to each other. And then when you have kids, it's literally about errands. The romance gets replaced by you basically being each other's employee. It's also funny watching your children behave like lunatics. But the funnier thing is finding that your bank account suddenly has no money
Pant answers a question
'I read newspapers to derive material'
What advice would you give someone entering politics for the first time?
The key is to figure out who is financing you, because politics is like any other enterprise run by CEOs and managers. And secondly, lie as much as you want. No one cares about the truth anymore. And don't ever apologise. It's a sign of weakness. If someone accuses you of something, accuse them of something else. That's the best way to go about it.
ON June 2, 9 pm
AT Bal Gandharva Rang Mandir, Church Road, Bandra West. LOG ON TO insider.in
Entry Rs 349
Pant with (from left) Harshita Mishra, Sowmya George, Amanda Crasto, Mrudula Nayak, Melissa Joanne D’sa, Pankaj Sharma, Parth Kotadia (in checked shirt), Prashant Pradhan, Bunty Biswas, Hasan Baldiwala, Preet Bhayani and Vikas Bhansali
Sorabh Pant kicks off first edition of The Guide Connects