Surf Board: Sit Down Comedy With Rajneesh Kapoor
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Often while listening to the songs on Sit Down Comedy With Rajneesh Kapoor, you will find yourself saying, “I haven’t heard that one in ages.” The podcast, launched on Gaana.com on 7 May and now three episodes old, combines nostalgia with comedy to provide good wholesome entertainment.
The host, Rajneesh Kapoor, is a New Delhi-based stand-up comic. On each episode, around half-an-hour long, he invites a guest to discuss a theme. So far, comedian Aditi Mittal and he have talked about fashion and its victims, Jeeveshu Ahluwalia has helped Kapoor riff on the trials of living with one’s mother, and screenwriter Varun Grover has taken on the infamous Delhi versus Mumbai battle. The chatter is interspersed with Hindi film songs, which are usually up-tempo and follow from the situations the comics build up in their conversation. For example, in the show with Mittal, an anecdote about tongue-piercing and excessive drooling segues into Chhaliya (sung by Sunidhi Chauhan) from the 2008 film Tashan.
Gaana.com is a music-streaming service, and Sit Down Comedy With Rajneesh Kapoor has a host of foot-tapping songs—they are not the latest releases, but most of them spent a considerable time at the top of the charts before being sucked into the too-old-for-airing and not-old-enough-to-be-a-classic limbo. So far, the songs featured have included Jugni Chad Di AC Car from the 2008 film Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, Lungi Dance from Chennai Express (2013), Auntyji from Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012), Maa Ka Phone from Khoobsurat (2014) and Yeh Dilli Hai Mere Yaar from Delhi-6 (2009).
Kapoor and his guests are old hands at stand-up comedy. On the show, they make fresh observations about common experiences, such as buying vegetables at a supermarket, and try to explain the logic behind seemingly irrational behaviour, such as wearing camouflage print in Mumbai.
In one episode, Kapoor ponders over how Chandragupta Maurya would have responded to a modern-day refrain of mothers—Why must you stay out so late? And why do you have to go? Why don’t your friends come over instead? What would Chandragupta Maurya have done had his mother said, “Why do you have to go invading; call them over to do an invasion?” In context, it is both familiar and funny.
The style of the show is casual—which is not to say that hours of writing, rewriting and rehearsals wouldn’t have gone into the shows. The comics talk in Hinglish—a mix of Hindi and English. Often, how they say something is as important as what they say. Like Grover’s deadpan delivery of criticism of the authorities and general public alike. For example, he wonders why the announcements in the 11km Mumbai Metro have to be in three languages and why they tell you to keep your hands off the doors. “This is the first time they have given us doors in a train. Won’t we even touch and feel what that’s like?” he asks.
The show is not without some flaws. First, Kapoor introduces each guest as “the very funny” so and so. That can be comedic murder, setting expectations too high. Also, the first episode, with Grover, starts with the much flogged horse on the Indian stand-up comedy scene: Delhi versus Mumbai. The saving grace is that the conversation branches out to include some other places and their personalities. There is mention of Lucknow, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Leh, Khandala and Bihar.
For regulars at stand-up comedy shows, one more thing will stand out: Kapoor often references his looks in his comedy sets. He is lanky and, by his own admission, a bit strange-looking. He can’t use that trope in the same way in an audio-only show. Kapoor works his way around that handicap. In one show, he alludes to his wiry frame through a comparison with girls who are 5ft, 3 inches “without heels” and 5ft, 7 inches “with heels”.