99% Brands understand Stand-up Comedy – Sorabh Pant, East India Company


Over time we have noticed that marketers have warmed up to the idea of using stand-up comedy to enthrall their fans with some giggle-worthy content. To name a few, Foster’s did Foster’s LOL with Weirdass Comedy and Schitzengiggles Comedy, Cadbury teamed up with Mumbai-based comedy group AIB in the Cadbury Bourneville Not So Sweet Nights and Kingfisher regularly features comedians in their KFBeerUp property. To understand the brand and stand-up comedy relationship better, Everything Experiential spoke to Sorabh Pant, Stand Up Comedian and Founder East India Comedy about his experiences performing at brand-sponsored events.

What do you think is the biggest reason for a brand to be associated with stand up comedy? 

Well, that’s what the young people are into, isn’t it? Thanks to platforms like YouTube where there are tons of comedy content, young people are exposed to stand-up comedians. Besides, comedians are also directly engaging with young people on social media. Apart from that I’d attribute a lot of it to the problems advertisers face when promoting liquor brands in our country. Surrogate advertising has actually done us a lot of good. I think comedy exudes a kind of rebellious culture that the youth associate themselves with.

Another advantage is the networks which comedians and brands together can tap in to. As a comic, I tap into my network of fans and the brand attracts a crowd of its own. It’s win-win situation for both of us because they get my people and I get theirs.

You’ve performed at a lot of branded shows over the years. Is there some sort of a brief you get from brands? 

Well there are two kinds of shows –One, the corporate shows, where we get instructions like ‘Please Don’t be dirty,’ or ‘Please don’t use overtly sexual references.’ I think this is completely understandable. Then there are public shows –where you can go as crazy as you want, because you’re talking to the audience at large and they like to hear it as it is.Besides, the audiences are smart. They needn’t be force-fed with branding everywhere. They know there is a brand involved and they willingly acknowledge that.

Do you think there’s an opportunity to tailor your set to fit a brand in?

Incidentally we get asked that a lot. You see live shows are really hard. As a comedian, you want to do stuff that is tried and tested. After all you are there to perform for an audience. But we do try and do our bit to include the brand. For example, if I’m doing a show for an alcohol brand,I try and crack an alcohol joke. Or if I’m doing it for a car brand, I crack a few car jokes. But there was this one time when a pipes manufacturing company asked me to make jokes on pipes, and I ended upmaking fun of the fact that they asked me to make fun of pipes! On a more serious note, I think brands understand that they need to let comedians do what they do best.

As an artist, what do you think is that ideal level ground where both you and the brand go home happy? 

You know 99% of the time both the brand and comedian go home happy. Since brands now understand what comedy is about, there are no hiccups. 

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