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My 5 favourite comics in Indian English standup comedy

Way back in 2017, I had my first brush with the Indian English standup comedy scene. Thanks to some contest I won on Twitter, I got free tickets to a gig at the Canvas Laugh Club, Palladium in Lower Parel. The lineup for the day boasted of comics like Jeeya Sethi, Anshu Mor, and others. It was a mix of curiosity and excitement since I hadn’t seen a live English standup comedy before. Johnny Lever, Surender Sharma, and some artists from laughter challenges like Kapil Sharma, Raju Srivastav, Sudesh Lahiri, etc were the ones I had seen in their funny element. How different would this experience be? Would I follow it or sit there like some geek laughing while others laughed with no clue whatsoever? I hoped not.

A had to stay home with the kids and wasn’t keen on coming. It took some cajoling on my part but I managed to turn it into a comedy date with a girlfriend. The long ride from Navi Mumbai to Lower Parel seemed more daunting at night but we girls were on a mission to laugh! The pictures of famous faces in Indian English standup comedy outside, the cute guy who handed us our tickets, and our comfortable seats put us right in the zone. Boy, what fun we had! We laughed till our tummy hurt and were glad to have been spared from the crowd work routine. Quite an enjoyable evening.

Standups have always been successful in India but Indian English standup comedy is comparatively new. It is rapidly evolving and gaining popularity though. We as an audience are openheartedly accepting intelligent, funny, and satirical content in English, a language that we can both speak and understand well. Moreover, the fact that the urban crowd can relate and engage with it makes it a great way to destress too. I love Indian English standup comedy and consume lots of it daily for its sheer variety and wit. Sharing with you some of my favourite artists that guarantee a good laugh every time. It’s a long and inclusive list but I’ll somehow include my five best picks.

Rahul Subramaniam

Rahul’s was the first Indian English standup comedy act I saw and couldn’t stop laughing. He’s a management post-graduate and uses his corporate work experience, his family, and basically anything for some fun content. His Mumbaiyya South-Indian accent is hilarious and an added advantage. I like his physical comedy while using the entire stage area and his body language. His cute expressions elevate his jokes. From his maid and past bosses to Hema Malini and John Abraham, he roasts anyone and everyone. A must-watch!

Varsh recommends: Bangalore, Maid, Monorail and Children

Rajasekhar Mamidanna

Self-proclaimed ‘Vin Diesel of Hyderabad’, Rajasekhar is known for his clean comedy and impeccable timing. A balding unmarried man in his 30s, he often takes the best digs at himself. His power of observation is impressive and intelligently used in his acts. They are often a learning experience too as he walks the audience through different types of comedy and involves them in it. I’ve rewatched several of his videos with my kids, Peppa Pig being the BEST of all. Don’t be a bakwaas fellow and quickly check him out.

Varsh recommends: Self-help books, Mental Health, Marriage Pressure

Kanan Gill

An army brat and somewhat of a veteran in Indian English standup comedy, Kanan Gill dons many hats. He did a movie with Sonakshi Sinha, judged Amazon Prime Video’s Comicstaan, and is now an author too. His unique campy reviews of Bollywood movies with fellow comedian Biswa Kalyan Rath make you wonder if you saw and loved the same movie! Don’t get too swept off by his boyish charm though, because he thinks on his toes and is extremely sharp. There’s limited new stuff on his channel but worth exploring for some laughs.

Varsh recommends: Relationships, Traps and Blackheads, Is this it?, Movie reviews

Shridhar V

Shridhar V is amongst the few comics who talk about politics and current affairs and spares no one from Elon Musk to Salman Khan. A Bangalore guy settled in Mumbai; he can crack the nastiest jokes with a straight face. His writing is amongst the best you can come across and deserves a smart audience to grasp and appreciate. Whether you’re right or left-leaning, try not getting offended and you’ll love his brand of comedy. Maybe learn something new along the way too.

Varsh recommends: Mumbai Bangalore & the Ukraine War, South India Dubai and Oppenheimer

Prashasti Singh

A female comic who doesn’t talk about female anatomy, periods, or sex, Prashasti’s relatable comedy tickles your funny bone. An engineering graduate, she was one of the top three comics on Amazon Prime Video’s Comicstaan. Her acts are sprinkled with references to girls’ lives and make you feel proud and foolish at once. They bring a fresh perspective to the Indian English standup comedy scene that’s dominated by men and their one-sided experiences. She doesn’t perform completely in English though, so don’t hold that against me. She deserves to be on this list. You’ll know why.

Varsh recommends: Heartbreaks, Teenage Drama, Dil to Pagal Hai

I must add a bunch of other names to this list; Kenny Sabastian, Sahil Shah, Sapan Verma, Aditi Mittal, Anu Menon, and many more. In the difficult world we live in a few smiles go a long way and these people offer them in loads. One can count on Indian English standup comedy to pack a few punches of LOLs in our busy day. No wonder I’m addicted to them!

Are you a fan of Indian English standup comedy too? Do you have any favourites? Stay tuned for the next list of my favourite Indian Hindi standup comedy picks.

Varsh recommends** YouTube videos on their respective channels.

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration with Bohemian Bibliophile.

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20 thoughts on “My 5 favourite comics in Indian English standup comedy

  1. I agree good standup comedy is a great way to refresh yourself. I specially enjoy the spontaneity of crowd work comedy. I’ve heard a little bit of Prashasti and Kannan Gill and I enjoy their humour. Will check out the others.

    1. My reply to your last two questions Varsha… No and No. My exposure to the Indian comic scene is only as much as the ocassional whatsapp forwards. I didn’t recognize any comic you’ve written about except one. Without sounding biased, it’s not that I don’t watch stand up, I do n I have my favs as well but they are not from the Indian stage. However, now that you’ve talked so good about their work, I am curious and I will look them up and see if I can vibe with them. Thank you for the brief info on their genres.. makes it very easy.

  2. A glass of beer and some light-hearted banter and roasting sounds like the perfect way to de-stress!
    I have only been to one live stand-up comedy show and that did not work for me. But I have heard some of the performers listed here and I liked that. I should catch them more often.

  3. I love this list, bookmarked it for more YouTubing. My first brush with stand-up comedy was in Aerocity, Delhi. It wasn’t English, but I actually began to appreciate the art. I Youtube Vir Das, Kunal Kamra, but am gonna now dig into the five comedians you have introduced me to.

    1. I am a big fan of statup comedy. They are so refreshing and a great stress buster. My favorite English stand-up comedian is Kenny must listen to him. And in Hindi nobody could beat late Raju shrivastav.we lost a jewel.

  4. I absolutely love Kenny Sebastian’s comedy! His unique blend of observational humor, witty storytelling, and quirky observations always leaves me in stitches. He has this effortless charm and relatability that makes his jokes resonate with audiences of all ages. But in the whole comedy circuit, Abhishek Upamanyu is definitely my all time favorite comedians, and I always look forward to watching his performances.

  5. Not much into stand up comedy so was not familiar with any of the names you shared – but have usually enjoyed stand up whenever I have come across on social media. I prefer clean and witty humour.

  6. I saw some stand up comedian on Instagram but honestly I didn’t find any laughter in their comedy. May be there are more and I didn’t know any of one above mentioned. Offcourse watching comedy is the biggest stress relief but stand up comedy is still new for me.

  7. I’m not really into stand-up comedy, so I didn’t recognize any of the names you mentioned. However, I do occasionally watch Zarnagarg on Instagram. I like her humor, especially when it revolves around kids and family topics.

  8. Varsha I am grateful to you for introducing some of the undiscovered comedians of our nations to me. Honestly I was not aware about any of the comedians you talked about in this post. But few of the Hindi comedians I watched in last few years’ time failed to identify the fine line between humour/comedy and Insult. Comedy is good for health and mental wellness and for some time we forget the stress and pain in our lives but when these comedians cross the line of comedy and move towards funny insult I dont like it at all. But I will try to watch the events of the comedians you talked about here if I get opportunity.

  9. I’m not a huge fan of standup comedy but once in a while I enjoy watching those comedy standup reels which are forwarded by friends. So, as such I don’t have any favorites too. But I will check your recommendations and add some laughter to my day!

  10. Thank you for introducing me to Rajasekhar Mamidanna and Shridhar V. I hadn’t heard their names, nor have I seen their work. I’m a stand-up fan and am always watching clips on YouTube so such recommendations are always something I’m on the lookout for. I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned Vir Das in this list. All his Netflix specials are hilarious. Not to mention he now has an Emmy to prove his mettle. Do check out his work. Among the female comics, I like Sumukhi Suresh a lot, and even Aishwarya Mohanraj. I totally relate to your excitement of going for the show. I used to go for these regularly when I was in India (Mumbai). Ah! Miss those days. But I’m glad we have OTT and platforms like YouTube to serve us these doses of humour now

  11. I don’t usually watch standup comedy because most of the times, they bring down people. These ones seems good. I will give them a try. Thank you for sharing the list.

  12. I used to enjoy standup comedy but now i find that most are just filled with the double meaning jokes and digs at stereotypes and the local folks – which gets irksome. especially if you are with your family it is downright awkward. so now i actually dont really watch them anymore. maybe one show in a year types, and that usually convinces me to stay away.

  13. I have not heard any of these stand up comedians. Though I love comedy by Kapil Sharma but they were totally new to me. Thanks for sharing will like to hear them too.

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