CHENNAI: To get a good platform, stage time and audiences who appreciate his/her work is the dream of every standup comic. Karthi Durai, a city based standup comic-cum-social media strategist, who was recently part of the second edition of Kaapi Chronicles, a performance evening, concurs. “It doesn’t matter how many people you perform for, it’s the stage time that matters the most!” claims the 23-year-old who hails from the ‘sub-continent’ Avadi. “By the time I finish my work, open mic events in the city, head back home and knock the door, it’s 2 am already and my father mistakes me for the milkman,” chuckles the engineering graduate. In a tete-a-tete with Karthi, we find out about his love for observational comedy, taking digs at dog aficionados and his dream to make a career out of standup comedy.
Just like a majority of engineering graduates, Karthi was jobless for about eight months. “Then I joined ‘Small Wall’, a digital marketing firm, run by Chennai Memes,” he shares. A YouTube video of standup comic Kenny Sebastian, which he stumbled upon about a year ago, paved way for Karthi to try his hands in the art. “I am a very humorous person by nature. When I saw that video of Kenny, I was amazed and amused. The premise of the comedy was very relatable and humorous and that’s when I decided to try it,” he recalls.
Since then Karthi has been a regular at open mics and has done over eight shows, including two in Alliance Francais of Madras. “The initial shows bombed and no body cracked at my jokes. It made me wonder what I was doing wrong and that’s when I began figuring out the base of the art. Incidentally, ‘Tanglish Comedy’ organised a workshop for newbie standup comics and it helped me develop a premise for my routines,” he explains.
He loves taking digs at anything and everything and it all comes from observation says Karthi who also likes to write. “I wanted to become a director. You know that boy who is a part of every cultural activity in school and college? I was that boy! I used to write and direct plays in school and college,” he narrates. ‘But one can become a director even at the age of 40 da’, said Karthi’s father and he took up to a conventional job. “His concern was genuine and he wanted me to have a steady job. So, I did what’s best. But, standup comedy is my passion and I do it to my fullest potential,” he says.
Talking about his love for observational comedy, he shares, “Any standup comic who has been an engineer will start with a set about engineering. For example, if Mike Tyson was in Chennai, and he wouldn’t go to boxing class; he will only go to a special class!” quips Karthi.But his recent observation is about his equation with dogs. “If I see a dog anywhere in the vicinity, I will not walk. I will take an Ola Share and go around the city! This realisation has become my new idea and I am working on developing different routines from it, with a mix of my absurdity and a pinch of exaggeration,” says Karthi whose favourite city based standup comic is Jagan Krishnan. “He solves comedy like math and knows how to work it out. I love his style!” he adds.
Ask him about the open mic scene in Chennai and he says that having a dedicated club for all the standup comic artists is the need of the hour. “Almost a year back, the open mic scene used to be very irregular. Now we have many platforms coming up.”He dreams of making a career out of standup comedy someday, but clarifies that it’s not a definite long term goal. “But, it depends on how the scene turns out to be. For now I want to explore new things and get better every day. If my jokes/comedy today is better than yesterday, that’ll be my biggest take away,” he adds.