Kaneez Surka and Jose Covaco bond over comedy and food

Jun 06, 2017, 08:30 IST | Joanna Lobo

Over much laughter and improv jokes, Kaneez Surka and Jose Covaco discuss Naga pork, masala chai, social media trolls, parenting, and comedy beyond stand-up

Kaneez Surka and Jose Covaco discuss all things comedy at Indigo Deli, Bandra. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
Kaneez Surka and Jose Covaco discuss all things comedy at Indigo Deli, Bandra. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

The first time Kaneez Surka and Jose Covaco met, it was to create a parody of the reality show Bigg Boss (BB), a project that got canned and they thus failed in their 'mission to get people to stop watching BB'.

When they get together now, it is like watching a no-holds-barred improv show, live. Surka and Covaco do comedy that goes beyond stand-up. Surka is known for her improv routines, and has recently started The General Fun Game Show (incidentally, Covaco will be in the next edition). Covaco, meanwhile, is known on social media for his short videos parodying anything trending or newsworthy, and his long-running podcast, Kaan Masti.

Joanna: What do you think of India's comedy scene?
Jose: There are so many women comedians now. I recently saw a session discussing women in comedy. It had just one woman on the panel - Aditi Mittal - with Kanan Gill, Biswa Kalyan Rath, Tanmay Bhat, Vipul Goyal. What's worse, you end up making that women look like she is complaining.
Kaneez: You need to have more than one woman because our experiences are different. She is not the voice of all of us, and vice versa.
Jose: The irony is the session was about why 14 male comics, and no women, bagged an Amazon Prime deal. There are enough female comics for a full panel.
Kaneez: There are far less female comics but more than enough to offer a perspective.

(Masala Chai and english Tea arrive)
Kaneez: I'm curious as to how your chai will taste. If I am served masala chai in a teabag, I won't bother.
Jose: It's decent. I will imagine it is real thelawala masala chai.
Kaneez: My tea is nice. It seems like, there was leftover coffee in it; it's all mixed up and I like the new taste!

Joanna: Do you restrict your comedy so as not to offend people?
Jose: You have to sanitise a lot. We have to follow the AIR broadcast guidelines that say you can't talk about politics or religion. Once I was on Twitter, I realised these racists and political filters aren't there. But, if you talk politics or anything debatable, in that space, you will get a lot of hate. Today, I type out a 100 tweets but don't publish them, telling myself 'it's not worth it'. The hate is relentless.
Kaneez: I don't touch politics - not out of fear but because my comedy doesn't involve it. I make fun of Islam because I'm Muslim, but I do it my way. One of my jokes is that I am Gujarati, and people say, 'but you're Muslim'. Where am I supposed to be from?
Jose: It's better when a Muslim comedian makes Islam-centric jokes. I loved doing Catholic jokes, until the infamous roast happened, and I found out that we have a right wing! Now, I am slightly averse to religious jokes because of the consequences. But so much of great content is being missed out on.
Kaneez: I got a lot of hate for my tweet about Bieber's lip syncing.

Joanna: How do you deal with the trolls?
Jose: I try to talk to my family only when I get home!
Kaneez: It's a good sign for me, it means I have arrived. Sometimes, I'm tempted to reply to such comments. Once I did, and the person goes, 'OMG, I'm a big fan'!

(Cilantro Chicken, Capers and Caramelised Onion and Quiche, and eggs Benedict with Ham arrive)
Jose: I've spent all my life waking up at 2 pm so I end up having breakfast for lunch. This eggs dish is really good, especially the ham.
Kaneez: I love the food here. I recently began eating pork, and wondered what I was doing all my life.
Jose: I'm Goan, and we love our pork but I genuinely feel that Naga pork is better.
Kaneez: What is it like being a father? I always worry about what kind of parent I will become.
Jose: My inner monologue has me saying things like no talking to boys till she is 35, no Internet till she is 20. I'm going out of my way to not be that dad responsible for his daughter having daddy issues.
Kaneez: Imagine putting them out in this world and hoping they make the right decisions.
Jose: I'm already feeling that anxiety of letting go. It's really brave of parents, yours included, who are okay with their children living far away from them.
Kaneez: When I am going through troubled times, I talk to my parents. They know I count on them.
Jose: I need to make my child like this. 'Meet Kaneez, she talks to her parents a lot. Learn from her!'

Quick takes

Funniest person besides you:
Kaneez: Will Farell
Jose: Anuvab Pal is naturally funny, and Dave Chappelle

If you had a chance to roast someone, it would be...
Kaneez: Cyrus Broacha. I would like all comedians to get together and roast each other.
Jose: All of our news anchors, especially the crazy ones.

Funniest thing said to you:
Kaneez: Someone at a party said, 'Kaneez is on Snapchat. She's not funny all the time, but you should follow her'.
Jose: I'm often asked, 'What do you do for a living?'

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