Stand-up comedy has been a very recent phenomenon which caught on in India only after the penetration of Internet, when the younger generation was introduced to world of American and British stand-up comics, through the shows of variety of comedians including Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chapelle, Ricky Gervais, Russell Peters and many others. They all joked about a variety of things, but what made stand-up special was that the jokes were almost their personal observations, which often echoed thoughts of the audiences, who agreed but probably were not that funny, or brave, to say it out loud.
What’s It About?
So when, popular Indian comedian Kapil Sharma, who is popular for his jokes on the Indian TV, announced his first ever stand-up special, there was a high anticipation, since Sharma is probably that perfect comedian, who connects the TV-watching generation with those who consume content via the Internet. The stand-up special showed a very different side of Sharma, yet doesn’t steer away completely from his image of a family comedian.
In his nearly-an-hour-long special, from being born into a lower-middle class family in Amritsar to becoming one of the most popular comedians in the country Sharma, joked about almost everything, but he reserved most of the heavy-duty punches for himself. There were several jabs directed at India’s current Prime Minister, who he refused to name, but, understandably enough, ended up joking about himself.
One brave thing that Sharma discussed during the special was his struggle with depression, and how he had to seek professional help for the same. Heartening to see that Sharma, took the platform to talk, about issues that has been everybody’s concern, especially over the last two years, and was brave to acknowledge the fact that despite the fame and money, he too went through it, and admitted he wasn’t aware about it until, as he joked, he got to “know it from the media”, itself.
Despite the rags-to-riches story Sharma, in his imitable way stayed away from the oft-played victim/struggle card, and was quick to acknowledge his family’s support, despite, all their struggles. “Some people came to Mumbai with Rs 40, Rs 50. My father gave me Rs 1200, and sent me to Mumbai,” he says with a lot of pride, beautifully acknowledging the support of his family and especially his father, who was a recurring figure throughout his first-ever stand-up special.
Throughout the special, Sharma spoke about various influences on his life including that of his parents and his wife, Ginni Chatrath, and even shared his son and his daughter’s pictures as well. In many ways, this first stand-up special was more about Sharma explaining his upbringing, his struggle and how every time he had a humbling experience, whenever he thought he had achieved it all. His meeting with Shah Rukh Khan, is of course a barrel of laughs, but gives an insight into Sharma, his humility and also, his unrelenting desire to keep entertaining people.
In his typical way, Sharma manages to direct humour towards mostly at himself. Or, from Nita Ambani to Ranveer Singh, he directs his jokes at those who are more famous and more powerful positions than him. However, there are instances, where Sharma pokes fun at people who are less privileged than him, but that’s maybe looking for flaws, for the sake of it.
The Final Verdict
In his first stand-up special, on Netflix, which was nearly an hour long, and he was probably catering to an entirely new audience, this special did what it was supposed to do, that is make one laugh and entertained for the entirety of its duration, without making one feel uncomfortable about laughing at those jokes.