New York to New Delhi: Stand-up comedian casts laughing spell
By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, Sep 7, Do you know why Vatsyayan wrote “Kamasutra”? To sell scented oils to white people! Or so says popular New York-based stand-up comedian Vidur Kapur, who will have you in splits with more quirky answers like this one.
Originally a Delhi boy, Kapur’s comedy is a heart-wrenching mix of theatrics, pathos, irony, self-depreciating humour, ready wit, gentle ribbing and scathing sarcasm that comments on social realities and pokes fun at the self while at the same time laying bare human frailties.
“It is the way comedy is moving now,” Kapur told IANS on the sidelines of a show here.
He is in India for a week and is holding workshops.
In India, comedy is growing as a genre, he observed. “It has a market. People react to comic acts. The audience is hungry for new faces and new issues,” he said.
Contemporary comedy is a reflection of the changing society, Kapur said.
An example: “Ten years ago, the Indian dream was, ‘We will go to New York one day and see the Empire State Building’. But India has changed. Now they say, ‘We will go to New York one day, buy the Empire State Building; and name it Rangarajan Niwas…” he chuckled.
The young comedian of Indian origin, who has performed single comedy shows across the US and the globe – breaching the colour and sexuality divide – has been described by Fox television as a “comedian to remember”.
Kapur is gay. And he has something to say on that too. “I was born premature. The nurse handed me to my mother and said, ‘Congratulations, it is a homo…”.
“I have been in a relationship with a Jewish New Yorker for the last seven years. It is like 35 years in a straight relationship,” he said, casting a laughing spell on the audience at The Park New Festival of Emerging Art and Culture in the capital over the weekend.
He was among the top 10 finalists on “New York’s top 10 Funniest Stand-Ups”, a part of New York’s Comedy Festival and a finalist for NBC’s “Stand Up for Diversity” initiative.
An alumnus of St Columba’s School in New Delhi, Kapur went to study at the London School of Economics and at Chicago University.
“But I did not like my job as a management consultant and head hunter. I worked for the meanest and most racist woman on earth…” he said with a comic twist.
He threw it up to become a comedian after a brief stint in a comedy school.
“I think stand-up comedy – single act – has arrived in the mainstream as legitimate theatrical performance. It has grown as a genre because of the internet which has given comedy an universality. I have a large following on the internet,” Kapur told IANS.
He has been influenced by the likes of African-American comedian Richard Pryor and stand-up American comic artist and satirist William Melvin “Bill” Hicks. “They pushed the boundary and spoke of stuff that has never been talked about,” he said.
“I have to talk to people about my sexuality in my acts too…you have to be honest in comedy. In India, I have to educate the audience that does not know what to expect…,” Kapur said.
The performer is heading to the Middle East for a multi-city tour beginning with Bahrain this week.
(Madhushree Chatterjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)