*Displays unknown number*
Me: Hey! This is Kritarth.
P: Hello sir, I’m calling from ‘amazing event management company’. I want to check if you are free next sunday to perform for a big corporate client?
Me: Sure, I am free. Please mail the show details.
P: Sir, there will be kids at the event, it’s family day. Do you have any jokes which kids will understand?
Me: Sorry wrong number!
Every time the phone rings and it’s an unknown number, the comedian in me hopes it’s a call for a corporate show. To provide context, corporate shows are like Diwali bonus ,except – you only get Diwali bonus. (and no regular salary!) Standup comedy is an evolving art form, a majority of our audience have not even seen a single comedy show. As a result of this, sometimes you get the most absurd show calls.
Taking you back to a day I got one of these gigs:
It was a show for a corporate (That-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named). I was told I have to do a 30 minute standup set. Instantaneously , I was excited about doing the show. However, the fact that it was a family day was not mentioned to me.
I reached the venue with my silly smile bubbling with enthusiasm, just to see kids running all over the place. I assumed there was also a kid’s birthday party in the same venue. I strolled across to the reception and asked for the manager of my event.
The fellow escorted me to the performance space for a sound and light check. The stage looked extravagant and I could not have asked for more regarding the setup. After the check, he sternly said “Sir, I just have to let you know that the content of your jokes must be clean, no below the belt humor”. I nodded to his request, gladly following the decorum of corporate shows.
And then! He said the words I never want to hear again,”Sir, our MD told to give special instructions because there will be kids in the audience.” My ears immediately registered what he said!
“What?!” I shrieked shrilly in shock. My face distorted into an abnormal mix of confusion and concern. “You never told me there were going to be CHILDREN at the venue! Standup comedy is not for kids. You should have called a clown,” I added. I knew, at that very moment that he thought a comedian and clown were the same thing.
He might’ve told me it was a family day (I don’t remember) – I just took for granted that they were smart enough to know that standup’s don’t play to kids. Now it was too late to back out. So I took a deep breath and prepared myself for what was going to happen next.
The show started off with the MC generating the most lukewarm applause, in the history of applauses, ever. There were a 100 adults in that room, yet my attention kept diverting to those angel-faced devils sitting at the front table. The laughs started, and I was happy the kids were not a problem… yet!
The more everyone laughed; the more confident I got; the better my rhythm became.
Right in the middle of the set, a kid(***&@$$!) shouted at the top of his lungs “Mummy,Mummy. Enough. Let’s go!”. Ouch! What a burn that was to me! I cannot recall why I thought this was a good time to start some crowd interaction… with the kid.
“Which school do you go to?” I asked, (I have no idea what I was talking to her for) to which she replied “Delhi Public School”. “So, how come you are not at school today?” I countered, a cheeky grin on my face. Her response pulled the chain to my train of thought, she said: “Because today is Saturday. Are you stup-pid?” . Ouch! Again?! Really?! A kid?!
I confidently defused the situation narrating how my school made us work on Saturday.I even gained their sympathy when I said that I did not even have a proper classroom studying in a Kendriya Vidyalaya. (A bunch of lies!There’s no way I’m losing to a 6 year old. KV for life!)
I looked at my watch and – TADA!, I was on stage for 32 mins by now *phew*. I walked off the stage to an even lukewarm-er applause that the one I got on to. Hmmph! Why the event manager thought children would enjoy standup is a question that left him speechless. Oh my god! Never- again!Why get kids to public places of relaxation and entertainment- is a million dollar question.
As I walked out thinking “how can I bomb at a show?”; Just then my event manager comes running to me with a fat envelope. Yaaayyy.. Moooonnneyyyy! Then it hit me why I do these cheesy shows!
PS: I’m available to perform at corporate shows. Please get in touch here.
PS1: Leave the kids at home.