Sapan Verma: Called Shashi Tharoor's landline number until he answered

Updated: 16 February, 2020 08:31 IST | Letty Mariam Abraham | Mumbai

Sapan Verma discusses how he gave shape to One Mic Stand, which has been nominated in the Best Comedy (Non-Fiction) in the upcoming mid-day and Radio City Hitlist Web Awards

Sapan Verma
Sapan Verma

How do you rope in five celebrities from different walks of life and convince them to give a go at stand-up comedy uninhibitedly? It's easier said than done, believes Sapan Verma, who spent four years on his brainchild, One Mic Stand, graduated from the storyboard to an Amazon Prime Video offering. "I don't think the comedy scene was evolved enough to pull off a show like One Mic Stand. We didn't have [lavish] budgets on the Internet, [until a few years ago]," he explains.

With Shashi Tharoor, Taapsee Pannu, Richa Chadha, Bhuvan Bam and Vishal Dadlani as part of the line-up, the stand-up comic pulled off a casting coup with the maiden edition. Mention that Tharoor was a revelation on the show, and Verma says the politician's willingness to try his hand at comedy took him by surprise. "While I had known [the other participants] from before, I had never met Shashi Tharoor. I simply went to his website and dropped an email regarding the show. An hour later, his manager responded saying that Dr Tharoor watches my videos and wanted to know more about the idea," recounts Verma incredulously. What followed was a two-month chase to lock Tharoor's dates. "I kept on calling Tharoor's office landline number until he answered. The first time he got on a call with me, I froze. Once he heard the pitch, he asked me when the shoot was scheduled and when it would air," he says, adding that the MP—known to have a way with words—was the fastest learner of the lot.

Shashi Tharoor, Vishal Dadlani and Bhuvan BhamShashi Tharoor, Vishal Dadlani and Bhuvan Bam

Bringing celebrity guests also had its share of pitfalls. "One actress who agreed to do the show. So, I went to her house with a female comic [who would mentor her] and discussed possible topics for her set. But she had to back out when she bagged a big film," laughs Verma.

Richa chadha and Taapsee Pannu
Richa Chadha and Taapsee Pannu

One Mic Stand has been a learning experience for the creator-host. "I was involved in everything—from figuring the title of the show, to the [background] music, to [overseeing] the edit."

More About One Mic Stand

  • Verma was keen to rope in Shah Rukh Khan
  • Dadlani said he was comfortable performing for a crowd of 20,000, but a setting of 50 makes him nervous

Cast your vote for the Hitlist Web Awards

One Mic Stand (Sapan Verma, Amazon Prime) has been nominated in the Best Comedy (Non-fiction) category. The other nominees are:
  • Going Downhill (Stand-up special: Neville Shah; Amazon Prime)
  • Sushi (Stand-up special: Biswa Kalyan Rath; Amazon Prime)
  • Jestination Unknown (Vir Das; Amazon Prime)
  • Comicstaan 2 (OML Entertainment; Amazon Prime)

There are 14 categories that the public can vote for. Log on to to cast your vote.

You can also vote via SMS. Send HITLIST <space> category name <space> your choice (a/b/c/d as on the website) to 57575.

Voting lines close on March 8.

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First Published: 16 February, 2020 07:00 IST

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