Millennium Post

Catapulting aspiring comedians to stardom

‘Comicstaan S3’ winners Aashish Solanki and Gurleen Pannu, in an exclusive talk with ‘Millennium Post’ share all about their experiences, the tough competition and much more

Humour is the best therapy and what could be better than watching stand-up comedians with their funny punchlines online to unwind after a long day at the office?

The youth of today strive to own the stage, the spotlight and the audience, given the wide popularity of stand-up comedians these days. However, with Prime Video's 'Comicstaan', it takes much more than that to make people laugh by delivering wacky punchlines in a brief amount of time.

Season three of 'Comicstaan' witnessed Aashish Solanki (Delhi) and Gurleen Pannu (Chandigarh) emerge as the winner and runner-up, respectively. Even though their points varied so little, they both fiercely challenged not only the other contestants but also each other throughout the season.

Aashish and Gurleen spoke with 'Millennium Post' in an exclusive interview about their experiences of being mentored by seven well-known comics, their decision to pursue stand-up comedy and much more.

Aashish and Gurleen have always been naturals when it comes to doing stand-up comedies, as evidenced by their excellent performances throughout the season.

"I had the option of choosing numerous jobs, but I ultimately decided to pursue my passion. The most honourable thing one can accomplish in life is to make people laugh. I was always the group's funniest member. So, after graduating from college, I gave it a shot and performed reasonably well," Solanki said, who added that there are several ways to become well-known as a stand-up comic. "You must go viral and spread the word about your work in some way and 'Comicstaan' is one of the best platforms because it allows one to display a variety of jokes. The only venue where one must demonstrate their mettle is 'Comicstaan', while other platforms simply allow performers to deliver safe, traditional stand-up jokes."

"Stand-up comedy came to me naturally. I desired a creative endeavour that would allow me to perform on stage. When I was in second grade, someone asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up and I remember saying, 'I want to be famous'. Because I didn't receive as much validation from those around me when I was younger, that's why this has lingered with me ever since. I used to perform comedy scenes at school and college events. One day, I had a performance at an open mic and it was so successful that I was like, 'Wow! I'm the centre of attention on stage and the audience is cheering'," said Gurleen.

She added "There is no better forum for stand-up comedy in India than 'Comicstaan'. Exploring sketch, improv and other types of jokes give one seven to eight possibilities, plus the ability to see what genre suits them best for making comics."

Both stars had a lot to say about their experiences being a part of 'Comicstaan' throughout their conversation.

"In 'Comicstaan', every artist's experiences revolve around going up and down. It puts a lot of pressure on us to perform well because we know that whatever we do will be posted online for the rest of our lives. No matter how hard we tried not to let it bother us mentally, the strain kept increasing throughout the season and certain scores kept reminding us of the stiff competition. The mentors advised me that the audience would only be evaluating my performance and not my points. As a result, mentorship really aided my learning," shared Aashish.

Aashish's statement was echoed by Gurleen, who added: "Before the show, my mental frame was that I was going to a competition to perform at my best. But doubts crept into my head when I observed other people receiving good and bad feedback on their performances. Prashasti Singh, our mentor from the sixth episode and a past contestant on 'Comicstaan', understood how we felt during the show and advised us to concentrate solely on our performance."

It was difficult for everyone, especially for these two, to get the crowd to laugh in a short amount of time.

"We only had three to four minutes to perform, otherwise going overtime resulted in a 0.5 point deduction. Therefore, my goal was to focus only on adding jokes back-to-back and not waste time on my setup or linking gags serially," stated Gurleen.

"Comic is one of our crafts where we have to make our jokes effective in less time," continued Solanki. "That posed a significant challenge because we had to make people laugh while simultaneously telling a story's beginning, middle and end in three minutes! So, the main objective wasn't only to execute it but also to figure out how to accomplish it while also trying to make people laugh."

From the start of the season to the very conclusion, Aashish and Gurleen didn't relent in their commitment to do their best. Both revealed the distinctive talents they discovered in each other as comedians after establishing their mettle through their performances.

"I enjoyed seeing Aashish perform since I admire his writing," Gurleen chuckled and further said, "Not only was he calm on stage, but he quickly composed humorous tags that made everyone laugh. I almost feel envious of his writing skills."

"Gurleen was the only person who pushed me to perform better during this season. She made sure of that because she did wonders in just one episode, while I was constantly worried that my confidence wouldn't lead to overconfidence. Gurleen wrote well, acted quickly and was fantastic in every episode! She's a talent that only occasionally appears every 10 to 20 years," Aashish said before concluding.

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