More regional language comedians need to talk politics: Sorabh
Sorabh Pant talks about his latest show Make India Great Again and how he brings about a balance in his writing
Sorabh Pant has been receiving some great feedback for his show Make India Great Again (MIGA). He thinks what resonated with people was the multitude of topics — angry trolls, drug laws, Indian politics, India’s relationship with other countries, etc. He speaks to us about his choice of topics, how he plans his sets and more. Excerpts from an interview:
You have been talking about politics in your latest show. How do you try and bring that balance in your writing?
I made jokes on everyone because I’m a political cynic. I don’t really trust any political party implicitly. I trust jokes. Jokes rarely let you down. The attempt was a democracy of jokes. Jokes rise above politics because they can target anyone, including myself.And I wanted to talk about what each of the politicians did and then shoot off the jokes — not who they were per se. There was a bit of self-censorship as well because given our current political climate — I wanted to be smart about my point of view. There was a 30-minute set I had written on some politicians. It took about eight months to write. And the last one month before the special shoot for it to be tightened. So, nine months. That exact number of months — you know what I delivered.
A poster of Make India Great Again by Sorabh Pant
In general, how do you decide on your set? Do you plan in advance?
First, I make notes. Then I ignore those notes for some idea that just struck me that’s better than my notes. I write the jokes and the set and flow of it properly. Then I test it out at a live show. I discover new jokes on stage. I discover things that I thought that were funny, were horrendous. I rewrite. Do the rewritten set on stage again. And repeat about 30 to 40 times till a set or a joke is vaguely where I want it to be. Then I do that about 30 to 40 more times till a set is ready. I’ve realised the audience at some of my shows are my colleagues in a brainstorming meeting. I did a few shows recently in Dubai, Mangalore, Manipal, Bangalore — all of which went on for two hours — because I was trying to play around with my thoughts. The audience is sometimes the boss telling me what I need to do and sometimes the employee going like, ‘Where is he going with this?’. A lot of it is planned in advance but so many punches come from getting on stage in front of receptive crowds, regularly.
What are you currently working on?
There’s nothing more exciting than putting out almost a year of content in a stand-up special, which I did with IGA. Because you have to start from scratch. Fortunately, I’ve been doing stand-up since 2008 — so despite MIGA being out — I still have about two hours of jokes that are between undercooked and ready to serve. Plus about an hour of new stuff that is definitely not even close to tolerable. I really want to do a six- to eight-episode run of a weekly news comedy show next. There’s so much to talk about. If an OTT platform picks it up, I can guarantee that I will nail it. Just give me the money to make it happen. I’m treating this interview as a pitch meet! Even if it doesn’t — I’m probably still going to do it. I am also working on the next special for 2019. I’m doing my first ever show in Oman and I think I should be back in London, the Middle-East and South-East Asia as well. I need to get more pages on my passport . And I plan to take my wife and kids as well — otherwise what’s the point of being vaguely famous (laughs).
If you had to change one thing about the comedy scene today. What would it be?
More regional language comedians need to talk politics and issues. They need to start from the ground up to remove this misnomer that politicians are some special species above us voters. Otherwise, I’m very, very grateful to anyone that has ever liked anything I’ve done. Each of your kind words and support get me fired up and happy about doing what I love to do. You keep pouring that positive fuel into my tank and I promise and I’ll keep trying to get better at what I do for as long as I can.
First Published: Aug 24, 2018 19:29:46