In conversation with Azeem Banatwalla

Laughter has always been and will remain to be the best therapy. Lucky us to have so many people in India who know how to cure us with this therapy. On 13th May 2016, when Azeem Banatwalla was in town for his second show in Vizag at The Park, we happened to catch up. He took some time out to interact with Yo! Vizag and gave us an insight of his life behind all the laughter.

Azeem Banatwalla, Comedian

Q. Did you always want to be a comedian?
“As a child I was always into writing, I’ve written a lot of humour. Right now, I’m writing a sitcom about a failing news publication. It’s inspired by 90’s sitcoms like Yes Minister and The IT crowd.”

Q. Everybody till date who’s inspired you.
“Eddie Izzard has been a great inspiration. He has a very distinct comedy style, that’s where I get the style of cracking jokes about religion so confidently.” Azeem also likes Jim Jeffery, Bill Burr, Jim Gaffigan. From India, his idol is Anubhav Pal.

Q. Have you always been the funny & out-going one?
“I’ve always been reclusive. My family still thinks I’m the same old quiet child ,who is anti social. Most people after show would like to party but I would rather prefer having two drinks and going to sleep.”

Q. Tell us a little about East India Comedy (EIC).
“EIC started with Saurabh Pant and Kunal Rao, I started working with them around 2012. People think that being a comedian I would’ve a glamorous life but in reality it’s completely the opposite.”

Q. EIC has 7 comedians, do you like performing alone or as a group?
“I find both performing alone and in a group comforting. Performing with a group of 7 people is always better because if you screw up your part, there are others who can always cover up. But then again working as a group can be a bit chaotic cause there are 7 different people and 7 different opinions. But the 7 different point of views help broaden your horizon. So, working as a group has its own benefits and pitfalls.”

Q. How do you deal with hecklers?
“It’s better working off camera because here there is immediate gratification. You know if something has worked or not. It’s a mess to shoot! And the reaction on the Youtube videos aren’t always satisfying, at times the even comments saying “You suck, go back to Pakistan.”

He deals with negative comments by trolling people back. He even has a fake account to troll people back on Youtube comments.

Q. What is comedy to you? Is it one of the best profession to be in?
The thing about comedy is “Your confidence is only as good as your last show”. Every three weeks he does have a bad day or two at work. Being a comedian is just like any other job. You have to do everything to pay your bills. He has even performed at Sangeeth’s where people laugh more at the kids doing somersaults than at his jokes.

Q. And lastly, where have you seen the best crowd? How did you find Vizag’s crowd?
“The best crowd I’ve found has been in Bangalore. Cause I do most of my shows in English and it was very well received. And also, strangely enough even Guwahati’s crowd was quite inviting.” He did his ‘Out of my system’ over there. Internationally, he has performed in Malaysia and Singapore. He has also performed at Crack House Comedy Club, which is one of the first comedy clubs in Asia. It is challenging to entertain different races of people. Azeem shares that he found Vizag’s crowd pretty good. It wasn’t one of his best but it was definitely a good show.

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