At first glance, Daniel Fernandes may strike you as someone who’s always chosen to walk off the beaten path. Not only did he embrace stand-up comedy with utmost skill and panache, but also ensured his brand of comedy always serves a purpose and sends out a message.
At a closer look, one would discover Mr. Fernandes to be a warm, kind-hearted, supremely humble, and super chill individual.
From being the official campus snake-catcher back in his MBA days to bearing a fondness for fishing in exotic places, Daniel Fernandes is a treasure trove of interesting stories and adventures.
MTTN: Who were the comedians you looked upto when you first started out?
DF: Chris Rock, Bill Burr, John Oliver, Kevin Hart, Trevor Noah – there have been several comedians, and I like them all for different reasons. George Carlin would have to be my all-time favourite. The reason I took to comedy was Russel Peters. His was the first live comedy show I attended, and I’ve never laughed so much in my life, as I did then. Little did I know that this is what I’d be doing for a living, at some point.
MTTN: As a comedian, how do you constantly churn out fresh content?
DF: I don’t. We develop material over a period of time, it’s an ongoing process. Some comedians say that you should write everyday, I’m kinda lazy. As and when things happen in life, I’ll write about it.
MTTN: When did you first realize stand-up comedy was your calling?
DF: At the age of 27. My uncle once told me that there are three kinds of people in the world- Those who realize what they want to do very early on in life, those who realize what they are meant to do a little later in life, and the third section is the people who never realize what they are meant to do. I think it’s important to spend your college years figuring out what it is that you’re meant to do.
MTTN: What are some of the perks of being in comedy, and what advice would you have for aspiring stand-up comedians?
DF: In comedy, you get to travel the world and perform before people you’d never meet otherwise. Financially too, it’s extremely rewarding. However there’s also a dark side to comedy, there are a lot of people who don’t make it. So they keep trying, it takes a whole lot of effort to get there. Sometimes they get impatient, sometimes they get better. It’s tricky to crack the art of comedy. One should definitely try their hand at it at an open mic, just to see whether they have a flair for it. To start off, don’t put all your eggs in a comedy basket. Not everyone is able to make it big as a comedian. It’s important that people don’t get disillusioned and start to believe stand-up is the only thing they’re meant to do in life. Develop other areas of interest, get a job. Just have fun.
MTTN: What has been the most memorable destination where comedy has taken you?
DF: Australia, by far. I went scuba-diving at the Great Barrier Reef. Did a lot of fishing, met a lot of kangaroos and koala bears. They’ve got incredible wildlife, and the natural beauty is breathtaking. If you’re somebody who loves the outdoors, it’s the best country to visit. I’ve traveled to Singapore and Malaysia as well, enjoyed it mostly for the food.
MTTN: How did your early years shape you into becoming who you are today?
DF: I was born in Mumbai and moved to Goa when I was 13, so I have influences of both places in me. If I need to pick up the pace, I can invoke the Mumbaikar in me and get the job done. At the same time, I can slow down easily and know when to relax. Most people stick to one of the two, and struggle when they have to switch to the other. Thankfully, I haven’t had to face that because I’ve lived across both extreme paces of life.
MTTN: How do you deal with hecklers during a show?
DF: The trick to dealing with hecklers is reminding them who’s boss. When you’re doing a gig, the mic is in your hand, everyone wants to listen to you, you are the captain of your ship. A heckler is just someone trying to be relevant or call attention to himself. Your job is to immediately shut that down and just remind them who’s in charge.
MTTN: Let’s say you become the director of MIT tomorrow. What are the three changes you’d like to make?
DF: More non-vegetarian eateries, more parties and more fun in general.
MTTN: How authentic is YouTube as a dias for upcoming comics?
DF: YouTube is definitely a great platform to get started. You can get 10,000 views on a video or a million. The important thing is, those views have to convert to ticket sales. The world is a corrupt institution, there are certain people who’d rather buy more views on YouTube. However, those are not honest views or real fans, they won’t convert to ticket sales. There are comedians who get a lot of views online, but their shows don’t sell as much. I think there should be a certain level of honesty that comes with any craft.
There’s a lot to learn from the life anecdotes of this refreshing, outspoken comedy figure. One thing’s for sure, Daniel Fernandes’ brand of honest comedy is worth looking out for.