Candidly Speaking: A Conversation With SnG Comedy

As Mark Twain once said,

“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”

As KMC’s inaugural fest Invictus 2017 moves into its penultimate day, students and professors alike are all set to witness a riot of laughter, courtesy of SnG Comedy. SnG, or in other words Schitzengiggles is a group of stand-up comedians who will be performing in the Invictus Proshow.

The line-up includes the trio of Kautuk Srivatsava, Aadar Malik and Neville Shah. At a time when stand-up comedy was still in its primitive stages in India, SnG Comedy along with other comedy groups such as AIB and EIC, heralded the rise of the art form and have taken it to the place where it is today. Mostly through YouTube videos and sketches, stand-up comedy is now accessible to millions of viewers across the country.

We, at MTTN, had the opportunity to talk to the artists for half an hour as they expressed their excitement of performing in Manipal. Here’s an account of our telephonic interview with Schitzengiggles (often pronounced Snitzengiggles.)

 

MTTN: Hey guys! How are all of you doing?  

SnG (Together): We are doing fine. In fact, we are doing amazing. What about you?

We replied that we too were in good health and asked who it was on the other side.

Member One (Laughing): This sounds a bit formal. I think he’s going to do the entire interview very professionally.

Initially, we couldn’t distinguish their voices over the phone. So, each member decided to sing out a falsetto. Hence, we could make out that the initial member (member one) was Neville Shah.

We told SnG about how AIB recently released a meme categorizing Manipal University with Sharda and LPU. We expressed our disappointment and told them the manner in which AIB ended up taking it down, after cries from Manipal students.

SnG: Oh wow! We didn’t know you guys got so sentimental. Were you part of this? (Asking the interviewer)

The interviewer agreed on a personal level.

Aadar (laughing) : Guys, I think we need to play a bit safe in Manipal.

Neville (also laughing): We love Manipal. We think it’s a pretty cool place.

Kautuk: Leave that aside; I wanted to get into Manipal. I really love you guys, by the way. Don’t boycott us after our performance please. We promise to be really non-offensive.

MTTN: On that note, how do you respond to offence and people overreacting to your content?

SnG (Everyone agreeing): We don’t pay much heed to offense. Our content most of the time isn’t conventionally offensive.

Aadar: There are lots of people who come to our shows. Everyone has different opinions. Hence, it is quite natural for someone to not like one joke or the other.

Kautuk: Its more about being able to justify the joke to yourself. It’s important that you can come up with an intelligent argument to back up what you’re saying. If you have a joke which may even deal with incest or rape, you can use it provided you can justify it with strong arguments.

Aadar: There’s a fine line, which exists between being humorous and being offensive. It’s okay to flirt with that line. In fact, it’s important to flirt with that line as a comedian. But at the end of the day, you should be more funny than offensive. Our job is to make people laugh; not to offend them.

MTTN: Can you recall any incident of people getting offended by any of you?

 Neville: There was one video I did a while back. It’s called “5 Types of Condolence Calls You Need to Make.” It delved into situational based comedy you face with your parents. A lot of people took that video out of context and created a huge ruckus about it.

Kautuk: It was a three-minute video of an hour-long performance. Without context, you can’t really comment on it. That’s how most people make a mountain out of a mole hill. They don’t look at the whole picture.

MTTN: Moving on, do you ever look back on your first performance? Are you happy or disappointed with it?

Kautuk (laughing): It was terrible. I first performed in an open mic when I was interning with Vir Das. The only person who laughed in that performance was Vir Das and that was an ironic laugh. He probably laughed at the performance.

We asked Neville about his experience.

Neville: I hated it. We were in New York and there we had to bring our own audience and sell the tickets ourselves. For our first performance, we got fourteen people. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to be there.

We asked SnG how they explained stand up comedy to their parents.

Kautuk: My parents saw that that I was writing for Television shows and serials. That was bringing in the money. There on, they didn’t really mind it. They were happy that I was doing something I was passionate about.

Aadar: My parents, on the other hand, are also happy that I am earning enough for myself to meet my own needs. My dad is in event management. But he still doesn’t get why people would pay to watch me perform.

{Everyone starts laughing}

MTTN: How do you tackle the need to create relatable content? Do you write according to what the audience wants to hear? 

(Together) SnG: Not at all. What works for us is that our writing is very personal. We write from our own personal experiences. What people fail to realize is that we aren’t always funny. We may not always be the funny ones in the group. That takes a lot of energy. There has been many a comedian who has ended up in depression because of this. Having said that, we look at situations and try to think of funny alternatives. We have a different perspective with which we see situations. At times, we may look at a very serious situation and think of ways how it is essentially funny.

From humble beginnings to an acclaimed comedy group with nationwide fame, we asked what set them apart from other comedy groups.

 Aadar: Definitely our podcasts. It’s just five or six friends coming together and having fun. Shooting the podcasts is what each of us looks forward to. When people watch people not too different from themselves coming together and having fun, it’s relatable. It’s something you would want to watch.

 

MTTN: How is it to work together with each other?  

Kautuk: It’s great! All of us come from different backgrounds and all of us have our similarities and differences. But when we get together as a group, we enjoy ourselves.

Neville: The one positive thing about us is all of us have maintained our individuality and yet attained a good camaraderie with each other.

MTTN: What do you guys do when a joke isn’t successful?

Aadar: The most important thing as a comedian is to accept that the audience might not receive some things, which you think are funny, the same way. Once you are done with the show, you need to immediately make a note of it and keep on working the next day.

We asked them about their writing process and practice before an event.

 Aadar: Most of us have different styles of working. Varun Thakur, for example, mostly relies on improvisation. When I practice for my musical comedy pieces, I make it a point to rehearse at least eighty times before I end up doing it on stage.

His musical comedy pieces are great by the way. More like pop songs, the melody in each of his tune sets Aadar apart from others who do the same sort of performances.

 

Kautuk: I, on the other hand, am a very disciplined writer. I write each punchline and have the way my set should go ingrained in my head.

We decided to move on to lighter matters.

MTTN: Why does everyone rag Kautuk so much?

Aadar: It used to happen before when we just started off with our podcasts. Kautuk wasn’t as comfortable with the format. To get him acquainted, we used to pull his legs and now look at him. He pulls ours!

Kautuk: One of the great things about our audience is that they think of us as their friends and hence, they too join in the fun. It’s always in good spirit!

To know more of who they are, watch this video in which they quite candidly talk about their foundation.

On that note, we ended our interview with the trio as they went their way preparing for the Manipal performance.

Manipal awaits SnG Comedy’s performance on the 29th of April at TMA Pai Hall.

-As said to Reetobaan Datta. 

MTTN would like to thank Arya Poduval and the Proshow Committee for all the help they provided.

We would also like to acknowledge the contributions of Savinay Shetty, Manager of SnG Comedy for making the interview possible.

 

Reetobaan

Likes to eat rossogollas. Loves the Beatles,Bob Dylan,Wodehouse and cheesy afternoon rom-coms(Don’t Judge).

Lets set off on an adventure with nothing but spare change, a camera and a diary?

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