Three’s comedy in Bandra

Mr Bean
Mr Bean

What do stand-up comedians do in order to make people laugh is a thought that often crosses the mind. Though stand-up has caught on in the city, it is not easy to drum up one-liners overnight. Naveen Richard - a successful stand-up, theatre artiste and YouTube sensation - will share secrets behind his exploits ahead of an Open Mic session tonight.

L-R: Kanan Gill, Naveen Richard and Kenny Sebastian
L-R: Kanan Gill, Naveen Richard and Kenny Sebastian

Richard grew up watching the antics of Mr Bean - a witty television and film character portrayed by Rowan Atkinson. "I watched him during my school days, and I started acting like him in real life. People would call me Bean. As I grew older, I still continued to make those faces but had a few lines to add," recalls the 26-year-old Richard who rose to prominence with the web series, Star Boyz and Better Life Foundation (BLF).

Naveen Richards
Naveen Richards

Richard is part of fellow comics Kenny Sebastian and Kanan Gill's family - they share an apartment in Bandra. He also owes a piece of his recognition to them. "A lot of comedians prefer not to live together because all you do is talk about comedy. Although we also discuss other subjects; it doesn't take long before someone breaks into an improv. Since we knew each other from Bengaluru, we share a good rapport. If you are surrounded by people who are more talented than you, you tend to push yourself harder," he reasons.

Richard believes that it was Kenny who started the Indie stand-up revolution in 2014 through a video clip from one of his gigs. His performance poked fun at singers trying to fake voices to stereotypical lyrics in Bollywood songs. "His was one of the first videos to touch a million. It opened the gates for stand-up consumption online. Even Kanan (Pretentious Movie Reviews) made everyone believe that fame could be achieved online, which in turn, boosted live shows," he adds.

Time: 8 pm
At: The Cuckoo Club, 5AA, Pali Hill Road, Next to Candies, Bandra (W)
Call: 9619962969
Entry: Rs 300


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The Little Hump-Backed Horse
It's an illustrated Russian fairy tale by Pyotr Yershov. This book got me hooked to reading. It was funny, unpredictable and romantic -- an adventure story, written in verse! I didn't learn till I was quite grown up that the iambic tetrameter it used inspired Pushkin's Eugine Onegin, which in turn inspired Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate.

The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
A parallel universe! With talking animals! And sword-fights and ships! Ruled by a Lion King! Narnia taught me about Good and Evil better than any holy book. Besides, it was just so much fun. I didn't know then that Aslan, The Lion King, is based on Jesus Christ.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayan Rand
Yes, back when I was 15, I was pretty taken up with Miss Rand. Now I'm just appalled by the smug arrogance and tight stereotypes in her books.

The Princess Diaries, by Meg Cabot and A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
These two got me to think that maybe I too could be an author. For very different reasons, of course. Meg Cabot makes you really feel romance and her stream of consciousness voice is just so breathlessly unputdownable. Vikram Seth for the affection, depth of knowledge and lightness of touch with which he wrote about India in this book. And the dialogue that sparkles -- it's brilliant.

Both are in a league of their own, masters of their particular crafts, and I could never ever come close, but I read these two and I was like, 'Hmmm, maybe I could write -- maybe I could write a whole book!'

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
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‘My first crushes were on dashing young officers’

What was going on in your mind when you reached the end of writing this novel?
Relief, of course, and satisfaction, because I felt I’d done a good job, but also, a genuine sense of sorrow -- I’d spent so many hours with Shaanu and his friends that I really didn’t want to let them go.

Was it a challenge or easier to pen a novel considering you have a connect with the Armed Forces?
Well, I always pick backgrounds I’m sort of familiar with -- advertising in The Zoya Factor, politics in Battle for Bittora and a joint family full of girls in Those Pricey Thakur Girls and The House that BJ built. Some writers get offended when people ask if their books are autobiographical, like it means they lack imagination or something, but as far as I’m concerned, every book I write borrows from my own life. I’m lazy, that way! And like you rightly point out, I have a full fauji connect. I spent my childhood in cantonments around the country, and my very first crushes were on dashing young officers, all of whom were crushing on my gorgeous older sisters. Seven men from my family saw action in the 1971 war; one was awarded a Vir Chakra and one a Mahavir Chakra, so of course, the subject resonated hugely.

Your characters though fictional, come across as real, believable. Is this an evolving craft, or does it surface as each book takes shape?
Thank you! I usually have some notion of the characters, and that is inspired by people I know and admire, or despise, or am amused by -- a sort of core to the character, their USP. But the rest of it evolves as you write. Like when I began writing Baaz (Harper Collins India), I knew Shaanu would be the shortest guy in his Flying College batch, very cocky, and a total adrenalin junkie. This, because my son had a best friend in kindergarten who was like that, and I loved that kid to bits. So I took that core and ran with it.

Then, as I start to write, I slowly have to figure out why my character is like this, what makes him such a daredevil and so cocky? Is it a function of his family background, the way his parents met, the stories his mum told him? All that starts to emerge as you write. It’s like an excavation -- and is great fun actually; you wake up every morning and you’re so excited to hit the keyboard, and find out what happens next. 

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