If you think many of the big names on the Indian stand-up comedy scene today aren’t really funny, you definitely haven’t seen Anuvab Pal in action. We’re not all ha ha hee hee about most jokes, so if Anuvab can get a laugh out of us, you can rest assured you will not be disappointed. The Kolkata-born comedian is back in his hometown this month, to host an all-laughs edition of Black Dog Easy Evenings, so book your tickets for his February 21 show at 10 Downing Street before they’re all sold out!
If you miss this chance to watch Anuvab Pal live, your FOMO will be justified… and here’s why:
THIS GUY IS SERIOUSLY SMART (AND SERIOUSLY FUNNY)
He can talk about the Taj Mahal and online shopping in the same sentence, package it as a lesson in Indian history and then throw in a British Raj-hangover accent — yet it all makes sense. Listening to Anuvab Pal doesn’t require a willing suspension of disbelief. There’s no dumbing down for the benefit of the lowest common denominator. This former financial analyst is as smart as they come and funnier still! With a career spanning almost two decades across far-flung New York and aamchi Mumbai, Anuvab has experience in investment banking (including M&A) and IT (“essentially building web-based solutions for investment bankers and so on”). When he dropped it all to embrace stand-up comedy wholeheartedly, Anuvab had already worked on some seriously enviable scripts for TV shows including (believe it or not) acclaimed sitcoms Frasier and Law and Order. Given his background, it seems obvious that there’s something special about him.
TIME NO BAR, AGE NO BAR
In 2011, Anuvab quit Reuters (after 11 years) to help out with the finance and operations of his family business — a floating hotel called (wait for it…) The Floatel. At “around the same time,” he says, he “started doing stand-up comedy,” while also writing novels, screenplays and columns for reputed publications including The Economic Times. Pushing 40 at the time didn’t prevent Pal from venturing into uncharted waters. He must have known he had that elusive ‘it’ factor, because in the few years since, Anuvab has become a path-breaking force on the country’s stand-up scene. His comedy special, titled The Nation Wants to Know, has clocked up over 500 shows in cities as distant as Sydney and San Francisco — besides running to packed houses across India. Truth be told, he has been so prolific as a comedian, that this bit of his biography is just the tip of the iceberg! Suffice to say, he may be a tad older than many of his comedian contemporaries (much like another favourite of ours, Atul Khatri), but his late start has only added value to his oeuvre.
HE’S HAD A BRUSH WITH BOLLYWOOD
If it wasn’t impressive enough that Anuvab has actually been associated with the television genius that was American sitcom Frasier, this 42-year-old funnyman has also lent his skills as a screenwriter to satirical Bollywood hits such as Loins of Punjab and The President is Coming. In 2016, Anuvab was credited for the screenplay of Sidharth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif-starrer Baar Baar Dekho and, though the film didn’t fare too well at the box office, it certainly marked Pal’s move to ‘mainstream’ Indian cinema.
HIS ONE-LINERS ARE GREAT, BUT HIS TALES ARE TERRIFIC
“In my view, nothing great gets achieved through safety,” Anuvab opined in a recent interview. It’s a statement that sounds like something you’d find in a book titled A Curated Collection of Mind-Blowing Wisdom, but it isn’t the kind of thing Anuvab says on stage. Ask him what he does when people don’t laugh at his jokes and he says, “I stop being friends with them.” While we are still giggling about that, he adds that his comic element can be described as “mostly hydrogen, with some helium.” Better yet, Pal’s quick wit isn’t restricted to this form of rapid-fire repartee. When he’s performing for a live audience, Anuvab builds his tales around thoughts that jump from topic to topic and era to era, until your sides are splitting with laughter.
SEEING HIM IN KOLKATA IS EXTRA SPECIAL
“Calcutta has a lot of things that I like to joke about. Yet this is exactly what makes the city endearing to me and there’s nothing like performing in front of my home-crowd,” the La Martiniere alumnus confesses. Seeing Pal performing live in Kolkata is like watching a football home game. If you are in the city on February 21, drop everything else to attend this show.
HE IS OFTEN THE BUTT OF HIS OWN JOKES
Being able to laugh at yourself is crucial to a happy life, so Anuvab must be a pretty happy guy. “I have the intellect of a 14-year-old,” he says self-depreciatingly, quickly turning a negative into a positive: “That’s why I feel I am still relevant to the average 20-year-old.” Personally, we think you can be 30 or 60 and still love his jokes. The only thing a senior audience may have to worry about is bladder control when they’re rolling on the floor laughing!
Image Credits: anuvabpal.wordpress.com