'I have caught the writing bug'

Updated: Dec 06, 2019, 10:12 IST | Prachi Sibal | Mumbai

Is what comic Papa CJ has to say ahead of the release of his memoir, and another three books in the making

When did you decide to write Naked (Westland) and why name it after the show?
A publisher saw my show Naked back in 2016 in India and asked me to turn it into a book. That's how the whole thing came about. Naked seemed like the most appropriate name given the nature of the story.

What was the process behind writing such a personal story?
My life formed the backbone of the book however my terrible memory required me to go back to people in my life to fill in some blanks. More than incidents, the blanks that required filling were those that had to do with the emotions I was going through at the time.

How different is writing a book from writing comedy?
Honestly, I prefer writing comedy mostly because I can write a joke in the afternoon, perform it in the evening, make an audience member laugh and get instant gratification. With a book, I have to wait longer. Also with comedy, you remove every extra word to get to the punchline as soon as possible. A book however allows you the luxury of putting in a lot more detail that can make the experience richer for the reader.

Papa CJ's parents Ajay and Jayshree
Papa CJ's parents Ajay and Jayshree

How long have you been working on the book? Did comedy take a back seat during this time?
Comedy never takes a back seat! It took me 30 days to write the book but I spread that over a year and a half.

It's being called a 'tell-all'...
In the show, I actually take my clothes off on stage. However, with regard to the book 'bare all' is relevant in that one by one, I'm removing all the layers and exposing all my vulnerabilities and pain. In the end, when the reader knows my truth, while I am completely naked, I am become completely free.

Were there anecdotes you thought twice about putting down in a book?
There is an episode about comedians getting arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and then, performing at a police station to get off the hook. There is a story about taking a sledgehammer to a piano that was rented by a college at Oxford University. There is also one about someone who was high on cocaine and in the emergency room of a hospital where I was performing while the doctor stitched up the person's head. These anecdotes have made it to the book because I removed the names of the people.

What's on the cards after the book release?
I'm not normally the kind of guy who has a plan but one who is open to all possibilities, as and when they come along. However, the next steps are to sell audio rights for the book and narrate it myself. Also, I want to sell print and e-book rights outside the Indian subcontinent and movie rights if anyone is interested. I also have concepts in place for three more books, so maybe I have caught the writing bug as well. Let's see how this baby is received first, though.

Who is your favourite Indian stand-up comic?
Varun Grover has been one of my favourites for a long time. It's his authenticity that I admire the most.

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