Millennium Post

‘My jokes are for those who buy tickets’

‘My jokes are for those who buy tickets’
Author and parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor calls him the ‘funniest stand-up comedian in India and probably beyond’. He has worked hard to popularise stand-up acts. Meet Papa CJ as he gears up to regale the audiences in Gurgaon on Saturday. Millennium Post caught up with the man in action. Excerpts from a tongue-in-cheek interview:

What plans for Delhi? Can you share some details with us?

Jokes. Details of those are for people who invest in a ticket!

How do you find the audience here?

Fantastic. I love performing here. Indians are very self-righteous.

How difficult is making them laugh?

Indians are a better audience than you guys in the media give them credit for. Audiences for English language stand-up in India are generally educated, well travelled, well read and open to many different kinds of humour. And if they’ve paid money for a ticket, they will pay attention and get the most of the show. That being said, making any audience laugh continuously for a sustained period of time is never easy... if it was, you’d all be comedians and I’d be broke!

How is the audience in India different from those in the UK?

They tend to be browner.

Tell us some interesting incidents during your performances.

I've performed in a range of unorthodox places — on a plane, in a bus, in a lift, in a mosque, in a hospital emergency ward while holding the head of a girl getting stitches, in a police station, in an operation theatre while a doctor is delivering a baby, in a church, on a boat and even at gunpoint!

Is stand-up comedy picking up in India?

Yes. Stand-up comedy is picking up in India but stand-up comedians are not getting picked up. So much for women looking for men with a good sense of humour.

How did you get into stand-up comedy?

I first tried a career as a male stripper but people laughed when I dropped my pants. So I figured I might as well be in a profession where a laughing audience was considered a good end result. The irony is that now I tell jokes and nobody laughs… but they all want me to sleep with them afterwards.

How do you prepare for your acts?

I rehearse naked in front of the mirror wearing only a bow tie and my left sock while using a bottle of deodorant as a microphone.

Who makes Papa CJ laugh?

Any stand-up comedian on stage who is doing terribly and getting no laughs from the audience! And of course Mamata Banerjee.

How do you unwind?

There is a key in the middle of my back. I turn it anticlockwise.

Why the name Papa CJ?

‘Papa CJ’ is but a literal translation of my legal name. I was born in the Vatican where it is customary to name the child after his or her distinct physical features and my parents thought it would be appropriate to give me a Latin name. The word ‘Papa’ comes from the Latin word massivus and the letters ‘CJ’ come from the Latin word genitalius.

If you weren’t into stand-up comedy, what would you do?

Sleep late, play golf, travel the world, flirt with women, tell dirty jokes, surf porn and waste half my life away. Which is not very different from what I do now!


Where: Epicentre, Sector 44, Gurgaon
When: 30 June, 7 pm to 10.30 pm
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