Roasts and Toasts

The Toast of Vikram Vedha

After Batman, Vikram Vedha has arguably the catchiest theme (TANA-NANA-NANA-NAA…. TANA-NANA-NANA-NAA). After Joker, Vedha is the next worst guy you’ll want to root for. This film is a delirious mix of Vikram Vethal and The Dark Knight. For the uninitiated, Vikram and Vethal, is the story of King Vikramaditya and his adventures with the Vethal (poltergeist/ghoul). Poltergeists are supposed to be noisy beings who damage property. Thala Ajith’s Vethalam was loosely based on this premise.

A sage asks King Vicky to go to the forbidden forest and bring back the Vethal. King Vicky says “Easy peasy lemon squeezy” and sets out. When he finally faces the Vethal, King Vicky realizes his adversary isn’t an easy target. The Vethal plays more hard to get than a Tinder match who holds strong ideals of feminism, independence, and has high standards. So, King Vicky instead turns the tables and says “only here for friendship”. This gets the Vethal talking. The Vethal promptly lays down some ground rules. The Vethal states that he will ride on King Vicky’s back, and as they make their way back to the sage, King Vicky will have to listen to a story. At the end of the story, Vethal will ask him a question in the form of a riddle. If King Vicky doesn’t know the answer, the Vethal will stay with him, answer the riddle, and move onto the next story. If King Vicky knows the answer and doesn’t respond, his head will explode. If King Vicky responds correctly, Vethal will fly back to his tree, because “if you know errthang, why you need me for, biatch?”

King Vicky agrees to all of the above while mumbling “this clingy bitch right here.” He also notes that if prenups had these clauses, divorce rates would drop steeply, because ain’t nobody getting married if they know exactly what they’re getting into. Now, back to Vikram Vedha.

Madhavan plays Vikram, an encounter specialist, with a broad frame and broader smile. He is headstrong and prides himself on knowing he is always on the right side of the law. He can come back home after a long day of feeding bullets to goons and sleep like a baby, because he knows he has never killed an innocent human being. Vikram is your happy-go-lucky death dealer. This is established in the opening sequence, where Vikram and his squad take a gang by storm. Vikram clocks the most kills, but spots a runner. Instead of chasing after him, Vikram takes a walk in the park while twirling his glock. When the rowdy hits a dead end, he turn around and surrenders, and this annoys Vikram. He responds with, “You could’ve surrendered back there. The fuck did you make me come after you? Okay, tell me a joke and I’ll let you live.” The felon cracks a below average pun. Vikram is not amused and shoots the kills. Lesson for budding comedians: it’s a kill or be killed world out there. Better be ready for the day a cop comes after you with a gun, and all you can do to save yourself is tell a good joke.

Vijay Sethupathi is the best buy one get one free deal in Kollywood. You sign him, you get his acting skills for free. Not for sale individually. His performance as Vedha will surprise audiences once again. Right from the start, it’s clear that Vedha isn’t evil incarnate. He is the bad guy, because the good guys wouldn’t have a job otherwise. He is in the logistics business, and people get hurt once in a while. Every time he faces off with Vikram, he distracts him and gets away; leaving Vikram with answers to find. He teaches Vikram to look at both sides of the coin, instead of simply stopping with calling heads or tails. The story ends with Vikram and Vedha fighting side by side – forced to be brothers in arms due to circumstances. Finally, Vikram and Vedha have a Mexican stand-off, and it’s Vikram’s turn to riddle Vedha – “Should I let you go because you fought by my side, or should I kill you right here because that’s my job? Which is right?”

THE END. The best cliffhanger ending I’ve ever witnessed in Kollywood yet.

The supporting cast has also done well. There are two female characters (Priya and Chandra), and no item songs. There’s also a strong sense of casual feminism.

Priya is Vikram’s wife. She has tattoos, a serious job, and doesn’t exist just to make her man feel better about himself. She is a lawyer who hates cops. Vikram is a cop who hates lawyers. This friction brings them together, and thus begins a flashback song montage of their courtship. There’s a lot of insinuated sex, and they go to bed wearing normal clothes. It is time we acknowledged that lingerie and lip-biting isn’t always part of foreplay. On their first night, Vikram and Priya take the couch and pass out. Again, it is time we acknowledged that the wedding ceremony takes a physical toll on the bride and groom, and they’re too tired to even think of sex. When Vikram realizes Priya is Vedha’s attorney, he tries to get her to drop the case. Priya responds with “Why don’t you drop the case? Your work is work, but mine isn’t?”

Chandra also has her moments – when she gets slapped, she slaps back; when someone tries to intimidate her, she puts them in their place.

The soundtrack is great, and the songs have replay value. Karuppu Vellai is the recurring theme, and Yaanji serves as the romantic montage number. Tasakku Tasakku is the actual item numbers, where the bad guys have some fun dancing to their own tunes with a side of booze. The rest of the songs seem like they were made by the music director simply because he got commissioned for the job – much like a content writer who has to meet deadlines because they got paid ahead of time in full. The movie has a lot of subtle humor peppered in the most intense scenes, but the grit and pace of the thriller is maintained. You can tell there’s a lot of tension in the movie simply by checking out Madhavan’s nipples. After Batman, his nipples are the sharpest. This might also explain why he never wears a bulletproof vest.

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Roasts and Toasts

The Toast of Baby Driver

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Right now, I gotta tell you about… the fabulous… most groovy… BABY DRIVER!

Days before watching this movie, I’d been listening to the soundtrack. If you have a car, and you’ve got an L board stuck on the back or front, this soundtrack is not for you. If you have a car, and are usually late to meetings, this soundtrack is definitely for you.

The trailer conveys just enough for you to buy the ticket. But, it’s more than just another fast and furious wannabe. This is a movie about love, music, cars, and cold blooded killers. The dialogues are well-written, with some seriously funny one liners being thrown around occasionally. The interesting thing about the story is there’s not much character development, outside of the title character Baby (Ansel Elgort). Everyone has code names, and Baby is no different. It is never really explained how or why these nicknames came up. Baby also doesn’t talk much, case in point, Buddy’s (Jon Hamm) explanation:

“You know why he’s called Baby? It’s because they’re still waiting on his first words.”

Baby Driver looks like Bo Burnham with a pair of shades and a driver’s license; with the musical humor intact. Throughout the film, Baby is always plugged into an iPod. Owing to a car crash where he lost both his parents as well as some of his hearing, he plays music to drown out his tinnitus. He’s a “good kid and a devil behind the wheel.

Kevin Spacey plays Doc. Doc is Frank Underwood on steroids, minus the politics and the fourth wall breaks. He is the mastermind behind each heist, and doesn’t work with the same crew twice. But, he does like to mix and match. My favorite Doc line is “He puts the Asian in home invasion.

Jon Hamm is Buddy. Buddy is what happens when Don Draper decides to act in the ads he pitches to clients. Buddy and his lady love Darling (Elza Gonzalez) are part of the first and third/final heist in the film. They’re a Mr and Mrs Smith, the outlaw version. 

Jamie “doesn’t give two” Foxx is a late but welcome addition to the cast. He shoots first, and asks questions later. Sometimes, he asks questions while shooting as well. He goes by Bats, and is Bats-hit crazy. Bats is Django Untethered. “I like the way you die, boy!”

Lily James plays Deborah, and serves as the cute waitress crush/love interest of the protagonist. She represents the normal life that Baby tries his hardest to hold onto. It is also noticeable that a lot of work has gone into Baby’s wardrobe. He looks like a date-able Levi’s store mannequin, wearing shades of grey that darken towards the end as he finds himself on the wrong side of the law, being dragged deeper into the world of crime and bloodshed.

The music is the most interesting part of the film. The first six minutes minutes has Baby Driver grooving to Bell Bottoms. This sequence is a tribute to the music video of Blue Song by Mint Royale (which was directed by Edgar Wright himself in 2003). The coffee run sequence where Baby walks to the coffee shop is also visually pleasing, with words and phrases from the song popping up in the scene as graffiti. Even the action sequences have been choreographed to music, with the bullets being shot in tandem to the beats of the track. But, Kamal Haasan already did that with Vishwaroopam’s trailer.

Overall, this is a movie you’ll definitely want to watch more than once. But, if you’re a struggling artist like myself, you’ll watch it in theaters the first time, and wait for a good print to watch online. Most if not all the stunts in the film are real, and more than 150 cars were reportedly used to make every scene come alive. The story also has a cause-and-effect method of storytelling, where the characters live to break the law and face the consequences, even if it is death.

The best part about watching this movie is when you pull into Satyam cinemas, and the guy asks you which movie you’re here to watch, and proceeds to yell, “BABY! BABY DRIVER! Park your Baby behind that car, sir.”

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Stand-up Comedy

Let’s Make Rape Jokes

Rape is a heinous crime. It’s not fun. It’s definitely not funny. But, if you’re someone who believes in pushing the boundaries with humor, there are a few things you need to consider before getting on stage and spitting some R-rated lines.

  • Choose A Side

When talking about rape, if you’ve not been a victim, you’re automatically going to sound insensitive. The immediate argument will be “If you don’t know how it feels, you definitely cannot make fun of it. Remember, being molested is not the same as being raped. “I was once touched inappropriately. It felt wrong. I can definitely imagine what rape might feel like.” Wrong. That’s almost like saying “I’m a man, and most rapists are men. So, by extension, I can relate to them.” Just for the element of surprise, don’t try to shock your audience and call it dark humor. You have to make it explicitly clear – are you condemning the act or condoning it? There is no middle ground.

  • Make A Convincing Argument

Don’t wait till the audience asks you, “What’s your point?” Don’t make the rookie mistake of picking on a subject like rape because it’s an edgy topic, and people will pay attention to you. Especially if you’re not confident that they will laugh at the end. Don’t make a statement like “Rape is bad, guys! Don’t do it.” They don’t need to hear it from you. They already knew it. If you’re going to tell them what they want to hear, don’t be a comedian. Join politics. If you’re bold enough to argue that rape isn’t so bad after all, convince the audience beyond a doubt – to the point where they’ve becoming accomplices. It takes a special kind of genius to do that. Do not take it lightly. Off the top of my head, the best example I can quote is Bill Burr’s bit about hitting women. He says something along the lines of “You shouldn’t hit women. It’s not right. But, I don’t think there is no reason to hit a woman. Sometimes, they ask for it. Just don’t do it.” You should be able to find the clip online. Also remember, that’s Bill Burr. A lot of people pay good money to watch him. They will listen to anything he has to say. If you go on stage on your third open mic and crack jokes about rape, the first thing I’d think is, “Who the fuck is this? What do they know about rape? BOOOOOO!”

  • Always Punch Up

The definition of punching up is pretty easy. Never make it look like it’s the victim’s fault. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. But, it takes some getting used to. When you punch up, you should steer clear of stereotypical mumbo-jumbo. It’s common sense. Do not trivialize the issue. If you’re going to start your set with “I don’t get what’s the big deal about rape”, stop; go kill yourself.

  • Rape Has Nothing To Do With Sex

This is the first thing you need to understand. Rape is more than just nonconsensual sex. It’s not an extreme state of horniness. Rape is a display of power. It’s psychological. The size of a rapist’s penis has nothing to do with it.

 

While it is true that stand-up comedy is about upsetting balances, challenging ideologies, and calling out bullshit, don’t take it too far. It doesn’t matter if they’re laughing with you or at you. It’s your duty to make sure they laugh for the right reasons. There are a lot of rape jokes online. Everyone laughs it off, because they don’t attach a person or voice to it. Stand-up isn’t just telling jokes. You’re sugarcoating an uncomfortable truth. One joke isn’t worth being branded an insensitive asshole. Always ask yourself: what do I stand(up) for?

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Offensive Personal Opinions

I’m Leaving

Whenever I’ve heard someone say “I’m leaving”, they usually don’t. They stay and wait for a reaction. And, when you don’t react, they get riled up, and start arguments. “Wow. You really don’t care, do you? I said I’m leaving and you have nothing to say? I guess I should’ve left a long time ago!” Unfortunately, no response will satisfy them, because they don’t really know what they want. There is nothing you can do. You’re stuck. If you react, your actions and words will be held against you. If you don’t react, you’re an insensitive asshole. Let me show you.

Probable Response 1: Don’t leave.

“Too late for that now. I am going to do what I want to do. I don’t care what you want. I’ve put up with you long enough.”

You are left feeling guilty, clueless, and hurt. You’re going to rewind as far as memory serves, and over-analyze everything, only to come up with nothing. You don’t have a defense, because you didn’t think you’d ever have to defend yourself.

Probable Response 2: Fine. Fuck off.

“You fuck off. You don’t get to be cocky about this. This is exactly why I’m leaving. You don’t care.”

Fuck off was your bye. But, because you chose to honestly verbalize your thoughts, you’re the villain now. Now, you’re angry, frustrated, and this close to breaking something. But, there’s no use showing your anger, because these days, the definition of abuse and harassment is pretty inclusive and vague. You don’t want to become the subject of another social media outburst. Keep calm, and slaughter them a thousand different ways in your head. Your mind space is your only sanctuary.

Probable Response 3: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to piss you off. Let’s talk about this. What happened? Let’s have a conversation like adults. After that, if you still want to leave, I won’t stop you.

Now, this is interesting. I know this seems like the best response compared to the other two options. But, that’s only because it’s the most passive (aggressive) response, and you’re not trying to really express yourself here. There’s a 50-50 chance of this response leading to peace. You talk it out, you realize each other’s mistakes. You vow it won’t get this bad again. You live to see another day. You’ve won the battle. But, you are going to lose the war.

When it comes to defending yourself, there is one problem you cannot avoid. Every time you try to protect yourself from an attack, you will hurt yourself. It’s like covering your face when you’re getting slapped. You might get away with a spotless face, but your hands will hurt from the impact. Compared to your face, your hands are dispensable. So, you don’t give it much thought. But, you need your hands to apply the cream that keeps your face spotless and glowing. You need your hands to hold onto someone when you really need them. You will need your hands to stop someone from leaving you.

But, the slapper gets stronger with each strike, because they know your pain threshold has increased. And, finally, the one time when you can’t lift your hands up to cover your face, it will be lights out. So, in retrospect, while Probable Response 3 seems the easiest, it is actually the worst thing to do. It’s like building a fortress. It might keep you safe from assault, but it will eventually become a prison you’ve built for yourself. Not because you were a coward, but because you were thinking of quick fixes. Probable Response 3 is a quick fix. You’re choosing concentrated moments of peace, happiness, and glory, over being free, owning yourself, and getting stronger.

Announcing arrival or departure is nothing but attention seeking behavior. They want you to prepare yourself to greet them when they arrive. When they depart, they want to be missed. They want to know that they can affect you in some way or another. If you miss them, you will treat them like royalty when they come back. And, hence begins a vicious cycle. Throughout this cycle, you end up simply reacting and responding; like a reflex action. Unconsciously, you’ve practiced it a thousand times, and it’s muscle memory now.

Stop, and think about what you’re doing. “Do unto others, what you want done unto you” is bullshit. If that were the case, every time you needed a haircut, you’d have to cut the barber’s hair first. Do unto you, and stop there. Let others do unto you whatever the fuck they want. You will handle it. Trust me.

We live in a world of selective asshole. Selective, because they choose to shit on only those they know will take it. We are creatures of habit. We are also arguable the most competitive species out there. We have never naturally owned anything. We have only claimed ownership of something, enslaved it, raped and plundered, and moved on. Take ownership of yourself. There are no benefits to slavery. The light at the end of the tunnel is only visible because you are in the dark. Accept the darkness, and you will enjoy the light when it gets to you. There will be pain. You will suffer. You will doubt yourself every step of the way. But, you’d rather feel all of those things and do something about it. Maybe you deserved it all. Maybe you didn’t. It doesn’t matter now. You still have your sanity. You are the master of your own free will. Do not seek revenge. Do not seek closure. Just get used to existing as a lump of flesh. It’s not that bad. Babies are technically big lopsided lumps of flesh, but people still find them cute for some reason.

Nobody truly leaves. They only leave one thing for another. If somebody walks out on you, they’re going to go someplace else and bitch about it the first chance they get. It’s like being a walker in a joggers’ park. Every time someone runs away from you, they’ll come around soon enough. Meanwhile, you just keep walking.

Change isn’t always bad. Sometimes, changing is about staying the same when everyone around you changes for the worst. Stay strong. The next time someone says “I’m leaving”, just say “have fun!”

If they come back, you’ll know they didn’t have too much fun.

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Offensive Personal Opinions

A Constructive Guide to Suicide

I’ve lost my job. I’ve lost my relationship. I don’t have much left in life. So, I think it’s a good idea to end my life. I’d say I want to kill myself, but that sounds unnecessarily violent. Am I depressed? Maybe, I don’t know. I don’t want to spend good money on consulting a therapist, either. Do I have a sad life? Not really. I have been happier, for sure. I used to have someone to share my happiness with. I used to have someone to depend on, to be happy (because I couldn’t be happy on my own). It’s all gone now. It’s amazing how you can make all these promises in the heat of the moment, and suddenly wake up one day to find yourself alone and miserable. Given the choice between self-preservation and keeping a promise, some people choose self-preservation. And, there’s nothing wrong with that.

I’m just a little bored of life. I don’t feel optimistic about the possibility of fun, happiness, peace, or love in the near future. That’s how relationships work. When you hit a saturation point, and decide there’s nothing interesting or stimulating about it, you break it off. I’ve essentially decided to dump myself.

What about friends? Yes, I do have some friends. Some people who give a fuck about me; who will shed a tear if I die. Fuckers will probably laugh about it, but that’s what I’d do too. I will be fondly remembered. I know that much. Have I told anyone about wanting to kill myself? Not on my life. Either they’ll try to talk me out of it, or make fun of me and call me a pussy. Neither of those will encourage me and give me the motivation I need to off myself.

It might sound absurd, but suicide requires a lot of motivation. It’s not an easy task. In fact, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever wanted to do in life. Because, you know, after that there will be no life (hopefully). Unfortunately, suicide isn’t something someone can force you to do. If someone told me things like “Why don’t you go die? I don’t care. Go kill yourself. You’re a worthless piece of shit who doesn’t deserve to live” I would get pissed off and show them how I will not die, I am not worthless, and I will not let someone else decide the value of my life. So, the only person who can motivate me, persuade me, and convince me about ending my life is me. And, I’m feeling a little lazy right now, so I don’t really want to do all of that.

I’m not a masochist. I do not enjoy pain. And, most methods of suicide involve self-inflicted pain. When life is being a pain the in ass, suicide shouldn’t be sodomy. I’m sitting with my legs on a table that has two kitchen knives just lying around. Kitchen knives aren’t great for stabbing. I can cut my jugular, or slit a wrist or two. But, that will cause pain. IF I can’t handle stubbing my toe against the chair, I definitely can’t handle slicing my nerves. I would be all nervous, and probably end up hurting myself. Suicide isn’t about hurting yourself. It’s about killing yourself.

There’s also the part about making a mess. A good clean suicide is a myth. Maybe not if I take sleeping pills. But, I’m bad at math, so if I miscalculate, I might just end up taking a really long nap. Naps aren’t bad, don’t get me wrong. But, if I was getting enough sleep, half my problems wouldn’t exist. I can’t sleep with myself. No wonder nobody wants to sleep with me.

I’m also a really nice person. I don’t want to burden others with the responsibility of my last rites. It costs a lot of money, too. If I can’t afford a therapist, I definitely can’t afford a cremation; especially my own. So, what’s the best method of suicide that doesn’t involve violence, sharp objects, prescription pills, accomplices, fans, ropes, vehicles, tall buildings, or pain?

Life. Living life is the best suicide. Every day that passes, is one less day to live. Why fuck with the natural countdown? There is only death at the end of life. There is no chance of survival. This way, nobody knows I killed myself. I will take this secret to my grave. The decisions I took, the people I pursued, the hobbies and vices I chose – at least one of them (if not all) will kill me one day.

It doesn’t make me happy. This means more people will leave me. I will lose money, respect, love, and a whole lot of other stuff. But, I will also gain some. What goes around comes around. When I lose my life, I’ll know for a fact that I have nothing more to lose or gain. I did not choose this life. It was given to me by someone else. So, I will let someone or something else take it away from me. I’m going to be lazy about suicide. You should try it sometime. You might like it. If you don’t, you’ll get used to it.

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Offensive Personal Opinions, Stand-up Comedy

Sincere Apology

Let me tell you what happened today. But, before we begin, you need to know something – I am the villain in this story.

It was a Tuesday, and I was at the open mic I run. I was waiting to go up; I was last. There were about four comics left before the end of the show, and the host was doing a brilliant job. This was happening in Nanganallur AKA boot camp Mylapore. Not much happens in Nanganallur, which why Nanganallur doesn’t rhyme with fun.

During the open mic, there was an elderly man and a young lady who stayed for the first half, and they enjoyed themselves despite the occasional fucks being flung around. They left a while later. Not because they weren’t having fun, but because they had a life. A little later, a family of four walked in. Father, mother, son, and daughter-in-law. They left soon after, because they didn’t realize the open mic was happening, and had come to the restaurant to talk family matters.  Yes, they were so progressive, they got dressed up to go to the nearest youth hangout spot to talk about personal stuff. My deductive skills told me they were probably a nuclear family sharing the house with every other surviving relative who was really old, but just didn’t know when to die.

Then, four fresh-out-of-school kids walked in. Two boys, two girls. I give you this detail so you know that our nation’s sex ratio is progressing, even if the economy isn’t. They sat down at a table just next to the performance area. The girls sat huddled together (because traditional values dictated so), one guy sat indecisively facing the comic at a 45° angle. He was trying to be cool with one elbow propped on the table, and trying to lean back while also awkwardly making sure his legs weren’t spread out too wide (because traditional values dictated so). The fourth thought he would sit with his back to the performer as a display of dominance. He was definitely the prepubescent alpha male of the group. He had a gym bag on, which he refused to take off. My deductive skills told me he was trying to build muscles to overcompensate for the one tiny mass of muscle that wasn’t as endowed as he would’ve liked it to be. Whenever the host would try to talk to him, he would just stretch his neck up, and talk out of a lopsided mouth like a rejected extra from a Japanese horror flick.

The host spoke to each one of them, explained what was happening, and went on to introduce the next performer. With each passing minute, the kids kept getting louder. The performers were trying to be nice by talking to whoever else was listening. But, let me tell you from experience, when kids want to be loud, there’s nothing you can do to drown it out. Well, you could drown them, but that depends on whether you really want to put so much effort into killing a bunch of educated retards you’ve just met by coincidence. They got busy with their phones, clicking selfies and trying to pass snide remarks about the performer, fully aware that everyone could hear them. The alpha male, with his back to the performers the entire time, was trying to be funny to his group of friends. If there’s one thing a comedian hates, it’s another comedian without a mic.

Finally, it was my turn. I was the last performer, and I was going to close the show. What happened next was not something I planned. I tried my best to tune these loudmouths out and power through my set. But, you can’t always have what you want. There was another snide remark that was passed, and I lost my shit.

I addressed these attention whores, and asked them if they understood what was going on. The indecisive little shit responded with a “Should we?” and that just made it worse. I spoke to them for a few seconds, just long enough to make it awkward for everyone. The room went silent. I had singlehandedly brought the energy down. It was not a great show, but I made it worse. There was no coming back from that. The kids left right after that, and I went back to finish my set like nothing happened. I was still shaking, and I knew I had done something terrible. I tried to save the show by talking to a couple of guys who had walked in, just in time to witness the verbal homicide of the evening. I got a few laughs, apologized, and closed the show. I also apologized to the venue owners, who were sweet enough to not yell at me.

It was my fault. It was the most unprofessional thing I could’ve done. If we lose this venue, it will be on me. I vowed to be nicer next time. I was clearly in the wrong.
But, here’s what really annoyed me – “They’re just kids. They don’t know.” The saving grace was nobody said “It’s not their fault.” But, they’re just kids? Really?

When we started the open mic, there was this lady with her child. They were accompanied by who looked to be the granddad of the kid. The mother ordered a burger with fries, and sat at a table with the cute and cuddly little one plonked on the table in front of her. The kid tried to grab at one of the French fries with her stubby little teeny weeny fingers, but just couldn’t manage it. The mother picked up a piece, and handed it to this little innocent creature. The baby then proceeded to munch-munch-munch on the fry like a baby squirrel who has no clue about the evil world out there with the kill or be killed, survival of the fittest mentality. THAT IS A KID. THAT KID DOESN’T KNOW. If that kid had interrupted the open mic, there is nothing I could’ve done. I’d have probably lifted her up, sat her on my shoulder and taken her on a tour of the wonderful place that is Nanganallur. The child was on mute throughout, and I don’t think that’s owing to a disability.

I wasn’t angry because I had a few unruly audience members. I’m angry that these were a bunch of assholes who’d seemingly learnt nothing despite being through thirteen consecutive years in the Indian education system. They’re old enough to drive, but not old enough to be decent? Explain that to me, please. I would like to know exactly at what point in human evolution did manners become an optional gene. I refuse to believe that a seventeen year old is still a kid. Just because they were born later, doesn’t make them kids for life.

Yes, I could’ve been nice. I could’ve said, “Please shut the fuck up.” But, I chose not to please them. I chose to demonstrate cause and effect. I took it upon myself to show them that actions have consequences, even if you are just a kid.

I do not need anyone’s approval. I’m not looking for “It’s not your fault, dude. It had to be done.” because it will not make me feel better about it. I feel really bad about what I did. But, what I don’t feel bad about, is there’s little decency left in kids these days, and someone has to keep them in check once in a while. Today, was that once-in-a-while.
I will try to be nicer next time (if there ever is a next time). But, I also promise to not take shit from kids who know nothing.

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Offensive Personal Opinions, Stand-up Comedy

Open Mic Etiquette

What’s this about?
This is not an “Open Mic For Dummies” instruction manual. It’s about what you need to know and do if you don’t want to be an open mic dummy.

Who am I?

My name is Sudarsan Ramamurthy. In the Chennai comedy circuit, I’m known as Soda. I’ve been pursuing stand-up comedy for more than two years now. My first open mic was in October 2014. I run Chennai Comedy. You can look it up here.

How do I qualify to talk about open mics?
I wouldn’t be bragging if I said I’ve done the most open mics amongst all the comedians in the Chennai circuit. But, let’s just say that if you’re an open micer/comedian from Chennai, there is no way I haven’t heard of you.

What is the difference between an open micer and a stand-up comedian?
Every stand-up comedian is an open micer. But, every open micer is not a stand-up comedian. Not unless he/she has performed in multiple non-open mic shows (ticketed shows, auditoriums, corporate and private events) without having to blow or kiss someone’s unmentionables.
The most important and obvious difference is: all stand-up comedians are funny; all open micers are not.
It takes anywhere from six months to a year (subject to consistency, perseverance, luck, and size of balls) for an open micer to become a stand-up comedian. Just because you got to perform for five minutes in a ticketed show – even if you’ve done less than five open mics – doesn’t make you a comedian. It just means the scene is growing, there are more shows happening, ergo more slots to fill. Pure and simple.

What is an open mic?
An open mic is an event, usually held in an indoor space where anyone can get on stage and try their luck with whatever talent they possess. In a stand-up comedy open mic, it is strictly for people to test and/or practice their jokes in front of an audience who hasn’t paid too much to watch them and therefore isn’t judging them. Or, that’s what we all think.

Rules of Engagement

⦁ Registration
Anyone who has to perform, must register themselves before the open mic. The registration may be done at the venue right before the open mic, or interested parties may have to call/message to a given number. It is important to find out which one of the aforementioned protocols need to be followed.

⦁ Time Slots and Content Restriction
Each performer is given a maximum of 4-5 minutes of stage time. There’s usually no content restriction, so swearing and offensive language isn’t a problem. But, that doesn’t mean you say “Fuck” for four minutes. It’s also obvious that your material has to be 100% original. If you’re going to come and recite internet jokes, stay home and use those to pick up bots on Tinder. Don’t copy other comedians, either. We will know. We will find you. We will roast you.

Basic Open Mic/Stand-up Comedy Jargon

⦁ Host
A host is the anchor/presenter of the show. But, do not mistake the host for an MC. The host of an open mic or stand-up comedy show is usually a comedian. They keep the night going and perform their jokes to keep the energy up between performers. There are two kinds of hosts: a) ones who are so funny, it doesn’t matter if the other comics aren’t. The crowd already loves the host. b) Ones who are so bad, the audience will definitely find the others funny.

⦁ Slot/Spot
The duration of one’s performance is called a slot. Typically, open mic spots are 4-5 minutes long. A guest spot is usually slightly longer (8-10 minutes). Guest Spot is also code for “You’re not getting paid, but we’ll let you perform in our show.” A headliner spot is at least 25 minutes long.

⦁ Headliner
The headliner is touted to be the main event, the star performer, the guy whose face you put on the poster because you know people will jizz cash to see him on stage. So, if someone says they’ve got multiple headliners in one show, they don’t really know what they’re doing. The headliner must perform last. The main reason is, you don’t want people to leave right after he/she is done performing. There has to be a build up to the final act. You cannot have multiple finishing acts. That’s a premature ejaculator’s excuse.

⦁ Time Out
A nicer way of saying “You’re done. Get the fuck off the stage.” It may be a light flashing, someone holding their hands up in a T, or just flipping you off until you get the message.
For The Audience
As someone who has come to watch a comedy gig (free or paid entry), there are some things you need to keep in mind, if you don’t want to end up making a fool of yourself.

⦁ Offensive Content
Censorship and stand-up comedy don’t always go together. So, expect to be offended. Accept the fact that this show isn’t about you. Yes, you may have paid for the ticket and therefore might feel entitled. You are entitled to a seat, and some humor. That’s it. Don’t try to call attention to yourself, unless the performer picks (on) you. There will be swearing. Your mother, father, family, relatives living and dead will be referred to. Don’t take it personally. Laugh it off. Go home. Tell you friends about it.
Here’s how a stand-up comedy show’s disclaimer would read:
IF IT’S FUNNY, TAKE IT AND FUCK OFF. IF IT’S NOT FUNNY, TAKE IT AND FUCK OFF ANYWAY.

⦁ Picking On Audience Member(s)
As the phrase goes, “picking on” someone seems to have some negative connotations. That’s not always the case with stand-up comedy. When someone picks on you, it need not be with the express intent of shaming you or making you look stupid in front of a live audience. It could also be just to get to know you better. Yes, some comedians are nice like that. They care about who has paid to watch them and how they can make you come back each time. Bottom-line: The front row isn’t as dangerous as you think it is.

⦁ Heckling
It is important for an audience member to understand the stand-up comedy interpretation of the word “heckling”. It means any verbal interruption that is not part of the script. It doesn’t matter if you’re agreeing to what is being said, or aggressively trying to throw the performer off – you’re heckling. Different comedians have different ways of dealing with hecklers. Some ignore them, some entertain them, and some will slaughter and destroy the very soul of this imbecile mortal who thought they’d get away with a heckle.

⦁ Laugh, Clap, Cheer, Make Some Noise
While there are some ground rules and guidelines to keep in mind, a comedy show is after all about having fun. So, when you are asked to make some noise, don’t fucking raise your hand like someone is taking a roll call. Okay? Good.

⦁ Phones, Chitchat, Babies
Turn them all to silent or vibrate, whatever tickles your fancies. I have had shows where the audience was so enthusiastic, they’d laugh at the first joke, and start discussing it WHILE I’M STILL PERFORMING! Just laugh and/or clap, and we’ll know you’re enjoying the show. Nothing more, nothing less.

For Open Micers

Behave Yourselves

⦁ Before The Open Mic
Be there on time. Register. Take your seat, or walk around, or do whatever it is you do before a show. Don’t stand around in groups and indulge in chitchat like it’s a school reunion – unless there’s no space inside, and you’re going to go in just to perform and get out. If that’s the case, keep your voice low and don’t let the audience feel what’s happening outside is more fun than the actual open mic.

⦁ Preference of Slot
Unless you’re a pro, you don’t get to choose what slot you get. “I’m bringing friends. They are on the way. Please slot me somewhere in the middle.” Fuck you. Your friends should’ve been here. If they’re not, their loss. It’s not a private show where you’re performing just for your friends. Even if there’s no audience at all, perform to the other comics. Respect the stage. Respect the people who will share it with you. Respect the audience.
Even pro comics register in advance and ask nicely. If you’re going to throw your weight around, it means you’re not serious about sticking around for long.

⦁ Heckling
Here’s something that I’ve seen a lot of new guys do. They think just because they’re watching someone else, they can fuck with the performer’s flow. Motherfucker, you just forgot your jokes when you were on stage a minute ago. It’s like whipping your dick out before your balls have even dropped. Don’t heckle someone if you don’t have the skill to back it up. Let’s see how you feel when you’re up there trying out a set for the first time and someone thinks it’s fun to steal the show.
Compete outside, collaborate inside.

⦁ First In Last Out
Get to the open mic as early as possible. It doesn’t matter if you’re the first ever. There’s a lot to be learnt. Help the producers set up the sound system. Figure out how a mic works. Do sound checks. Ask questions. That’s how you earn friends. You earn friends, you earn favors. Favors can get you slots. Slots gets you stage time. Stage time is what makes you a comedian. Get on stage as much as possible.
Unless there’s an emergency, or a flight/train/bus to catch, stay until the end. Talk to the comics. Build your network. Be an open mic whore; to the point where your face is cemented in their memory and they feel like something’s off when there’s an open mic and you’re not there. That’s how I’ve started, and I’m still an open mic whore. Maybe an open mic escort, at this point.

⦁ Don’t Hold Grudges
Artists, especially stand-up comedians, aren’t the easiest people to work with. Difference in opinion, perception, and beliefs is the fundamental birthplace of stand-up comedy. Open mics will expose you to all kinds of people – performers and audience alike. If you really want to trash talk about someone, make it funny. That’s how roasts were born.

⦁ You Are Not Entitled
Get it into your head. The open mic is not a stepping stone to get shows. The open mic is where you keep coming back to hone your skill. “Bro, I’ve been doing open mics for five months. I’m not getting any shows. That other guy started after me, he’s done two shows already! Fuck it. I’ll start my own thing, and produce my own shows. One day, I’ll run the scene and show these motherfuckers how it’s done.” If that’s how you’re going to be, then fuck you. You didn’t get shows because you’re not funny yet. That other guy is. Put your head down, get funny, and there’s no reason why you won’t get shows after that.
It’s not a job. It’s a career. You build it in your own time. You are not entitled to anything. Doing a lot of shows isn’t the mark of a comedian. Being funny is. Performing in a show because you’re producing it, is like masturbating – you might have a mind blowing orgasm, but you’re giving it to yourself because no one else will.
⦁ Respect The Venue
Start on time. End on time. Do not give the venue any reason to complain. There is literally no reason why anyone should let you do something as unpredictable as stand-up comedy in their place of business. So, be grateful to that and make sure you give back. Encourage the audience and comics to order food and drinks. Make sure you give them good visibility and branding. These little niceties will go a long way.

⦁ Don’t Piss Off The Audience
Especially at an open mic, it’s important that you don’t scar the audience with something that’s not funny and therefore unnecessary. If you’ve picked on someone, acknowledge that they’ve been a good sport, or speak to them after the show to make sure they didn’t take it the wrong way. These are the same people who might one day buy tickets to your show and make you rich. Don’t fuck with them too much.
The open mic is a great place to watch comedy happen. The expectations are low, so you get to push yourself and experiment as much as you want. You also get to witness so many different styles, so you won’t latch onto one person and end up imitating or emulating them. Always give back to the scene. Remember, you wouldn’t exist if there was no platform to start with.
If you have any more questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to get in touch.

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