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Koffee with Kanan—Sitting Down with Kanan Gill

Lolstars, featuring comedians Kanan Gill and Urooj Ashfaq, was held at Fortune Inn Valley View on 11th March, 2018. Organized by the Las Viegas Comedy club, the show sold out in a matter of minutes, with a jam-packed auditorium even on a Sunday night.

After a brief rap battle between the organising committee members, the event opened with Urooj Ashfaq—a stand-up comedian, writer, and downright hilarious person. With relatable content, she left the crowd with a barrel of laughter, wanting more. Next up was the much-awaited crowd favourite Kanan Gill. Staying true to his character, Kanan entertained the audience with his quality humour, charm, and grace.

We, at the Post, had the privilege of sitting down with the man of the hour, Kanan Gill himself.

Over the past year, we’ve had several stand-up comedians come to Manipal, way more than we had anticipated. So, have you heard anything about the Manipal crowd? How was your experience here?

We’ve performed at Manipal before—we were here four years ago as well. And, the last time we came to Manipal, it was amazing. This time also, it didn’t disappoint. Young people like to laugh more, and we love performing for anybody who’s in their college years. The audience is fantastic.


Do you think stand-up comedy is like a passing cloud? Do you suppose it’s going to reach its peak and fall down eventually?

That is very possible. Right now, I think it’s so underexposed that even if it’s a bubble which will eventually burst, that bubble is nowhere near its stretching limit.


Your line of work requires you to be friends with a lot of your competitors as well. What is that like?

I think it’s different for people who are entering the industry now, maybe. But, when we started, there was absolutely no competition when we entered comedy. So, I happened to become really close friends with people who are technically my competitors. There’s enough work to go around, so we find no burning reason to actually compete with each other.


Do you think the comedy industry has competition as such?

It does, now. At the entry-level, there is a lot of competition. But I think we’re very privileged to have acted at the right time.


There are also very few women in stand-up comedy. What are your thoughts on this?

The number is slowly increasing, but yes. There are indeed very few women stand-up comedians. Urooj tonight was very funny!


You are a product of an army upbringing. Army parents are usually taskmasters who want their kids, especially sons, to join the army. How did your transition into stand-up comedy happen?

It’s actually quite weird. My father never really asked me to join the army. He said, “If you want to join the army, then do it. But I want you to do whatever you want.”


Also, a lot of people consider stand-up to not be a viable career option. What do you say to these people?

It might not be, actually. It’s like one of those things which ask you to be a good writer, perhaps it’s less of a curve than that. If you make it big, it’s going to be wonderful for you. But if you don’t make it, you realise very late.


A large majority of people who initially do engineering are forced into it. Some realise, after completing their course, that this is not what they wanted to do. They decide to change their career path. And like you said, if you don’t make it big, you realise too late. When do you think is the right time to act on this? When did you decide to do this?

Well, I played it quite safe, actually. I changed career paths when I knew that I could get some sort of consistent income out of stand-up comedy. It wasn’t a lot, but I knew I wouldn’t starve. And for me, that was enough.


Your movie, Noor, starring Sonakshi Sinha became a hit. What was it like working for Bollywood?

[laughs] It’s about journalists, by the way! But in all fairness, it was absolutely surreal. It was an insane, crazy, and overall amazing experience. I don’t really have any airs about working with anyone though, be it in Bollywood, or the comedy industry. We don’t really expect good treatment as comedians, so when you get it, you’re like “Why? What’s your game?”


Lastly, have you had any crazy stalker experiences?

Oh, many. It makes me very uncomfortable. I think it would make anybody uncomfortable though, nobody has any good stalker experiences. [laughs] And as you get older, you don’t really have to handle most of it anymore, you can offload it to your manager. I must say though, 95% of my interactions with people who like my work are usually amazing. It’s the 5% of them that are not so good. Some people don’t understand boundaries. However, most of them are well-meaning, and so that makes the interaction very fulfilling.


What category of interactions do we fall under?

You guys are well under the 95% of my good interactions wing.

With their bubbling personalities and unparalleled sense of humour, Urooj and Kanan successfully managed to make the evening delightful for everyone present. Las Viegas Comedy did a splendid job organising the show. Keep a lookout for LVC, they’re going to be back to Manipal with more comedians under their belt!

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