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Laughing Through The Pandemic With Anmol Garg

Virtual shows are no good because the audience interaction is very limited, says Comedian Garg.

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With many theatres and live entertainment venues in India impacted because of coronavirus, comedians, performers and entertainers had to take the online platforms. Stand-up comedian Anmol Garg believes that comedy content for an online audience differs hugely for what will make a live audience laugh.

In a freewheeling chat with BW Applause & Everything Experiential, Garg spoke about his journey of being a comedian, his startup, standup comedy in post pandemic world and more. 

Take us through your journey as a standup comedian. When did it begin? How did you get into it?

I had won a standup competition about 7 years back (when standup comedy was still in its infancy in India). However, I didn’t take it up seriously then! About 4 years back, my friend asked me to perform at his office party. People loved my performance but I thought everyone was laughing because they were drunk! Two years ago, I got another opportunity to perform at a local digital marketing club. I wrote a bit on ‘freelancers, digital marketers & TEDx events’. Again, people loved my 5 minute bit. They said I should do this more often. I performed again at the club next month on how ‘Indian clients get work done but don’t pay’. After this, there was no looking back. Since then, I have been regularly performing at various clubs, conferences and events across different cities!  

You term yourself as corporate standup comedian. What is this about?

I have had 3 failed startups before I got into standup comedy. What did I do with these 3 failed startups? Well, I converted it into standup content! My entire 45 minute set is inspired from these failures! The set is called ‘Startup To Shutdown’ where I talk about entrepreneurship end-to-end - right from starting up, getting a co-founder, building a team, co-working spaces, getting customers, pitching to investors, having a mentor, scaling up, pivoting, rejections and eventually shutting down! 

Most of my comedy content falls in the business comedy niche-entrepreneurship /sales /marketing /office humor! 

You are also a founder of a startup. What is your association with startups? 

I am the co-founder of Sales5X, which works with startups/SMBs and solves their sales challenges. We closely work with sales professionals & entrepreneurs and equip them with 21st century selling skills! I am also consulting 3 startups on their goto market sales strategies. Sales is a grey area for a lot of entrepreneurs who have awesome products/services but find it difficult to sell as they don’t come from a sales background!  

I also believe an effective salesperson & a standup comedian have a lot in common! Both need to master the art of building rapport instantly, getting the audience to like them & influencing the audience at multiple levels (one to make the sale, the other to get laughter) 

When did “News You can misuse start”? How did it get picked to Hotstar from Rizzle? Brief us about the show.

‘News You Can Misuse’ is my comedy show where I combine daily news with humor! Indian mainstream media is largely negative and biased. The news around us is so depressing. I asked my friends ‘what you watch a show which combines news with comedy?’ They said ‘Well, not sure’. So I just shot an episode with 5 news stories. People loved the concept! Since then, I have been doing one episode per week and I have done about 54 episodes so far (news you can misuse recently turned 1 year!) 

I was fortunate enough to discover Rizzle at the same time I started News You Can Misuse. My biggest validation of the show came from Rizzle! Their engagement with the show helped me realize that ‘yes, people want to consume news in this way!’  Since I am quite active on Linkedin, I kept forwarding my Rizzle videos to a lot of OTT platforms. It caught the eye of an AI based news agency called ‘Newsbytes’ which already had a contract with Disney+Hotstar. When they pitched the concept to Disney+Hotstar, they approved it instantly and decided to include it as part of their entertainment news! 

Your journey on Rizzle and getting great visibility there as a content creator

Rizzle has been one of the biggest reasons for my success! I experimented a lot on Rizzle for my ‘News You Can Misuse’ videos in terms of the episode format - number of news stories per episode, duration of a story, sound effects, which backgrounds people liked, my tonality, style of delivery etc. After 3-4 months of experimentation on Rizzle, I nailed down a format which I still follow! 

Along with that, Rizzle provided me a great platform to build a loyal followership. Within a short span of time, my followership grew tremendously. I started getting many collab requests from my followers! All this gave me the confidence to just produce quality content and the rest will follow! 

How is the standup comedy picking up again post the pandemic season?

It has. I just hope we are in the ‘post the pandemic’ stage. People are still talking about the ‘second wave’. The comedy scene has opened up to an extent. I stay in Bangalore which hasn’t been as affected as Mumbai or Delhi. Open mics have started but just 1/10th of what it used to be. However, it’s still a challenge to fill up seats for paid shows. People are still in the ‘wait and watch’ mode. The comedy scene was badly affected because of the pandemic. Virtual shows are no good because the audience interaction is very limited. I just hope we get past the pandemic soon and standup comedy can go back to what it used to be! 

Do you think content creators have a good scope in standup too. I mean this is a combination of both the physical and virtual words. How convenient could this be?

Being a content creator and a standup comedian, I feel these are two different worlds! If I try my online content offline, most certainly it will bomb! For anything to work in front of a live audience, we need to understand their pulse and craft humor accordingly. The script writing process is very different in both cases and so is the delivery! There is certainly scope for content writers to get into standup comedy but their approach needs to be different from their online avatar. Having said that, they’ll certainly have an edge in terms of shortening their learning curve! 

Your future plans and upcoming projects?

Create more quality content, content & content. As a content creator & standup comedian, my biggest task is to produce good content on demand! That’s where it gets challenging! However, I love every bit of it! 

I am also working with 4 companies and producing comedy content for their sales/marketing collaterals. These companies realize the need of differentiating their marketing message & comedy is one of the biggest tools to achieve it!  I am also on the verge of signing a deal with a radio station for daily comedy content on air! After all, everyone wants to laugh during these tough times! 


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