Read on to know about how Raouf Gangjee started Kalkutta Komedians, Vizag Komedians and Bhubaneswar Komedians.
Tell us about your life journey in brief?
I am a half-German guy who grew up totally confused. Germans don’t have a sense of humour, but I am only half-German so I have a sense of humour every other day.
What prompted you to start Kalkutta Komedians ?
Sheer boredom. Also, I can’t spell. Kalkutta happens to be (really) the German spelling of Calcutta, even if most people think it’s a reference to Kal Kuttas etc.
Tell us about your team, if you have?
I started Kalkutta Komedians in late 2012. It was a bit difficult since there was not a single stand up comedian in the city at the time. After putting some ads in the papers etc. I hosted the first open mic to discover new talent on November 10, 2012. Despite a first prize of Rs. 1 lakh being offered, only four people showed up. This tells you something about the lack of awareness of comedy at that time. Today, of course, if the same prize were to be offered several comedians would probably perish in the ensuing stampede. There is no shortage of them in the city now. All are (dis)honorary members of Kalkutta Komedians, the city’s first and finest stand up comedy group. Starting Vizag Komedians and Bhubaneswar Komedians in 2014 was much easier.
What type of content you prefer when it comes to stand up comedy?
Who doesn’t prefer sexual content? But seriously, I prefer intelligent jokes, whether clean, dirty, political, non-political, or whatever. Just being vulgar or offensive for the sake of it does not appeal to me.
What is your dream/ vision?
My dream would be to have a Komedians group in every state in India. So far there are three: Kalkutta Komedians in West Bengal, Vizag Komedians in Andhra Pradesh, and Bhubaneswar Komedians in Orissa. You could say it’s my dream but the rest of the nation’s nightmare.
What difficulties you face as a stand up comedian?
People occasionally (but not often) get offended by our jokes. The greatest difficulty of any true stand up comic is that in such a situation he/she finds it difficult to resist getting even more offensive, if only to teach the offended party a lesson about free speech, well okay, actually because the rest of the audience loves it if you continue picking on the poor outraged party and this gets you a lot of cheap laughs.
What motivates you or keeps you going?
Standup comedy is always done more for the fun of it than for the money. The fact that there’s not too much money in it, and that I have to earn my daily bread by begging for alms at traffic intersections, is evidence of the importance of the fun factor.
Any fun/ memorable incident?
I have sometimes made fun of our local political leaders when senior police officers were sitting in the front rows. Fortunately, these officers seem to laugh more than anyone else at jokes about their political masters.
What advice you’d like to give to someone who is interested/newbie in stand up comedy?
Get as much stage time as you possibly can, whether at shows, open mics, gatherings of friends or wherever. The more you perform the more you learn and improve. Also, try to make good jokes and not bad ones.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Yes, I’d like to share your money.
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