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The numbers may not be huge, but there are loyal fans for stand-up comedy. It's certainly not easy to make people laugh and behind their success stories, there are stories of toil and umpteen practice sessions. Kartik Sadvij is an up-and-coming stand-up comedian who feels he has managed to become funnier than Indian politicians but still has a long way to go. Here he shares his story --- of rejection, sweat, toil and finally the peals of laughter. (Neha Kakkar cries)

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As an agnostic, or even cynical, Class VIII student, I was getting into random arguments with strangers about the existence of God. Since I needed some information to talk about, I began watching debates on religion online and that's when I came across 'George Carlin on Religion'. Just for the uninitiated, George Carlin is the godfather of modern stand-up comedy, not just American. It was spectacular, watching this man ripping religion apart and getting paid for it while I get trolledby random strangers on the Internet. So, that's how my fascination with stand-up comedy began.


Having been inspired, slowly I started jotting down my thoughts in my notebooks, and later I had a special notebook exclusively for it. I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with random thoughts, and I would write it. After five long years of procrastination, I began writing for the stage. I lived in Goa at the time, studying in Class XII. I wrote for two months and to gather the courage to get up in front of a crowd, my friend doubled up as a guinea pig for my jokes. I would share the jokes with her on our way to coaching classes. I must say those tiny sessions with her really boosted my confidence.


The next step was to take the stage. I finally mustered courage and had a show during our class break. I wrote “Comedy Breaks with Kartik” on the board. And it was a six-minute set, with a DSLR recording it. There were no laughs initially, and then the fake laughs started pouring in. Frankly, that's how the audience warmed themselves up and I ended the show on a high with applause breaks in between.The next plan was to present the act before a whole new crowd. That's how I decided to do a show in the other section of class XII. The next day, I had a full house, with children standing and watching. To my horror, the act was a flop show, evoking no laughter from the kids. Needless to say, I was brought back to earth.

The only relief was that my classmates were really supportive and I was not ready to back off. Two weeks later, I was back with a new set and did better than the first one. I then did a few more mics before winning the third place in Show Me The Funny, a stand-up comedy competition at Waves, Bits Goa.


I developed contacts with The Goan Comedy Club and soon went on to open their next show with Sanjay Manaktala and Praveen Kumar "where I bombed like the Vietnam war".

Having done a few mics here and there, I approached Naval Officers Institute in Goa about starting open mics for kids at the Navy School. That's when I began producing small-scale events for Naval officers. It lasted till I left for Manipal, where I performed only twice in the first year.

Then, Manipal was not a place to host comedy shows, but I realised there was the scope and thus I started Comedy Club Manipal. We ran a range of open mics and did small shows once in a while. The first year was patchy, mostly due to the lack of experience. Then it got better, with more open micers.

Cut to 2019, Manipal now hosts multiple mic competitions and shows. We run four open mics a week, besides organising shows with big artists such as Kanan Gill, Zakir Khan and Abhishek Upmanyu under the banner of LVC Comedy, a Goa-based Comedy & Tour management company founded by Warren Viegas.

What began as a tiny affair is now a club with over 7-8 regular comics, 12 event management folks, several meme-makers and social media managers. I had decided that I would do my one hour show in my third year and I did. Titled 'Ek Ghanta', it opened well. I had opened for several comedy shows in Manipal with big names such as Zakir Khan, Kanan Gill and Vipul Goyal. I have performed in several cities and if you happen to be in the city where I perform, please drop in.


A quick chat with Kartik

Making people laugh, one of the biggest challenges in life. How many hours of practise are there behind each session?

It's the biggest challenge. Comedians practice at open mics which consist of a small audience usually get paid a small ticket amount (sometimes free), be it at cafes, pubs, clubs, parks or even malls. Every act has a time limit, usually 5-8 mins, where we test our material out. Comedy is an art form that needs a live audience for practice. One can't practice at home in front of a mirror and become a good comic, unlike other art forms such as music or dance. Once you do well at open mics, you get opportunities to perform at corporate shows where you get good pay. Time varies from person to person. Some are good joke writers or performers so they get the hang of it early, some take time. Finally, no matter how good one is, you are never above having a bad show or as it's called 'bombing'.

What has been your biggest/best show so far?

There are many, but the one I would like to list out is opening for Abish Mathew in Manipal. My one-hour show was also great fun. I had a great time opening for Zakir Khan's show in Goa as well.

To aspiring stand-up comedians, what's your advice?

There's nothing like stage time. Stage time is the only thing that will hone your acts, get you over shyness/fear and learn the art of being comfortable and natural on stage.

From where do you get content for the show? How do you make sure you don't offend politicians, feminists, gender activists and people with disabilities? Nowadays, every word is being scrutinized. Has it become more challenging?

Content is all around you, you just gotta observe it. A good joke always offends somebody. Usually, you only hold back in events such as corporate shows, colleges, etc. Open mics and shows generally do not have any restrictions. I wouldn't say it has become more challenging though it has become very sensitive.

Who are your favourite stand-up comedians you regularly watch/look up to?

George Carlin is my all-time favourite. Currently, I like Mitch Hedberg, Mark Normand, Dave Chappelle, Steven Wright, Ricky Gervais, Bill Burr, Jim Jefferies, Kanan Gill, Abhishek Upmanyu, etc.

If you can list out a few of your habits which made you reach where you are now

  • I like cracking people up, looking for perspectives on things that haven't been done before.
  • I'm creative in my approach
  • I constantly think of jokes

Kartik is studying VFX and he uploads short animations and content on YouTube that you can check out on my Channel 'Kartik Sadvij'

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