Is Standup, Theatre?

KK2Karthik Kumar thinks out loud about the difference between standup comedy and theatre.

KK is the co-founder & director of Evam Entertainment. His energy and zeal for life in theatre is infectious. Catch him on stage as a stand up comic in Vapour Pub, Bangalore on Feb 15 in the Valentine’s Day special show of Evam Standup Tamasha.

A question that many people in the Theatre world today are asking – some with scorn, and some with genuine curiosity and some just merely perplexed!

Anuvab Pal, leading playwright, a fabulous Standup Comic and one of the few other people in Theatre ‘India’ who came into Standup from the Theatre and Film, and I were sharing this thought – and this was the purport of that discussion.

Evam came into Standup Comedy in a experimental fashion – we performed a play, that in parts, broke the 4th wall and interacted/shared with audiences – these parts were autobiographical for the actors, who up until then were used to wearing masks that the script demanded they wear. These 4th dimensional segments worked far better than the scripted sections, and that was a huge surprise and rush of blood for us – my actors had become playwrights, so to speak!

This led to an evening of telling solo autobiographical monologues by a few actors who took the plunge, and eventually morphed into Standup Comedy seamlessly.

As a ‘Theatre’ actor, I have the safety of hiding behind a script and behind a playwright. I can lose myself in a role safe in the knowledge that the ship that I’m aboard, will sail me home – I merely need to focus on my duty.

In “Standup”, I am the ship- the playwright and the actor and therefore the “play” itself… the play is the thing wherein you catch the conscience of the king.

I can safely tell you that the greatest rush before and after a show as a stage performer for me, has come from Standup Theatre – because the review you get is instantaneous – as a performers, as a playwright and as the play!

When you carry home rotten tomatoes – you wear the scars proudly – having earned it, and it drives you into violent rewrites…
When you shine – you feel humbled that a chord was struck and the audiences opened their hearts…

Is Standup, “Theatre”? Well there’s a script, with leeway for improv, and an actor and there’s the audience investing into its heart and soul – and its LIVE – if that’s not Theatre what is! :)

About EVAM

Founded in 2003 by Sunil Vishnu K. and Karthik Kumar, ‘evam’ today is a profitable young thriving arts organization making people believe in the power of the Arts.
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