A LAUGHTER-FILLED journey has seen Sapan Verma deliver a special on Amazon Prime, co-found the East India Comedy collective, appear as a judge on web series Comicstaan season one and perform over 2000 live shows, in India, USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Dubai.
The stand-up talent will continue that comedy voyage by performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, throughout August with his show Shame On Me. Eastern Eye caught up with the popular Indian funnyman to discuss his UK premiere, comedy, live performance, the best advice he ever got and a memorable moment in front of 80,000 people.
What do you most love about standup comedy?
The fact that it’s live and the gratification is instant. Unlike a movie or (TV) show, you don’t have to wait for months or years to know how the audience will react to it. You get the reaction on the spot, every time, and it could be different every time as well.
What has been your most memorable gig so far?
One of the craziest ones was when me and two of my comic friends performed at the Global Citizen Festival India, as one of the acts before Jay-Z and Coldplay. There were some 80,000 people in the crowd – we could not even see them beyond a point.
How do you feel being on stage in front of a live audience?
It’s an amazing feeling. Every live show is so unique, even if you’re doing the same jokes.
How much are you looking forward to being part of the Edinburgh Fringe this year?
I’ve always wanted to be at the Fringe, not just as a performer but also as an audience. Great thing that I get to do both this time. I’m pretty sure that I’ll learn a lot from this experience.
Could you tell us about your Edinburgh Fringe show?
My Edinburgh Fringe show Shame On Me is an insight into being a comedian and living in India. I want to bring stories from home that can be insightful as well as hilarious for the crowd. It’s an hour of pure stand-up comedy and storytelling.
Does the fact that the Edinburgh Fringe is filled with so many shows put pressure on you?
Definitely. I’ve been working on getting my show ‘Fringe ready’ for so many weeks, but I also have to figure out how to pull audiences into the show. Though I know that once people watch it, they will definitely appreciate it and help spread the word.
Which part of your own show isyour favourite?
Without giving much away, there’s a story towards the end which has a lot of suspense along with comedy.
What according to you is the secret of a great standup comedy set?
The laughs should be universal, but the insight should be personal. People should remember you or your story after leaving the show.
Who is your comedy hero?
It changes every month depending on who has a killer special or a video out.
Who is the funniest person you know in real life?
So many people. My college friends are hilarious. My dad has a habit of making snarky jokes. And my wife does silly voices and impressions around the house all the time. I feel like I’m the least funny person around these people.
What’s the best advice you ever got?
When I got the offer from Soho Theatre for this Fringe run, I freaked out and almost said no thinking I’m not ready for it. But my manager and two of my friends gave the exact same advice – ‘There will never be a year when you’ll be fully ready for the Fringe. Nobody is ready for it. You panic, work your ass off and somehow land up there and figure things out. So, this year is as good as any other year’.
Why should we come and watch your show?
Because you’re a good person. Also, because I’m bringing my ‘best of’ material and stories from India which will surely make you laugh for 60 minutes. And because I’m having to pay a crazy amount on renting a tiny room in Edinburgh and need to make money to pay it off.
Soho Theatre and OML presents Sapan Verma: Shame On Me (UK Premiere). Pleasance Courtyard – Cellar in Edinburgh. August 2 – 27 (not 14) @ 18.40. Monday – Thursday £12/£11, Friday – Sunday £13/£12. Previews £7. Ages 16+ Catch a preview at Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE from Monday, July 24 – Friday, July 28