In the second edition of ‘21’, we have Rueben Kaduskar. He is a writer, comedian, and founder of the Brown Bread Collective.
The Indian stand-up scene scaled new heights with the advent of YouTube videos and the accessibility they brought to the table. Comedians like Kenneth Sebastian, Kannan Gill, Biswa Kalyan Rath rose to fame courtesy the internet. The comedy scene in India is buzzing and everyone wants a piece of the pie. But what it is like to be a comic? Comicstaan fame Rueben Kaduskar shares his story, experience and trade secrets…
Being a comedy junkie, the first chance I got to sit down with a comic and understand what happens behind the scenes, I took it. And about 12 months ago, Rueben agreed to meet with me. Rueben runs a company called The Brown Bread Collective. They organise shows at The Square in Powai, Nahar International School, Adagio Chembur and more such places. He is also co-curating The Circuit Comedy Festival which has been pushed due to the Corona pandemic. And he was one of the national finalists on Amazon Prime’s Comicstaan. He was also among the top five in Radio City's hunt for the next best Stand-up Comics. Yes, I was not just awestruck, I was fanboying.
Premise to Punchline
Rueben and I spoke at length about comedy, what is funny, where Indian comedy is going but most importantly we spoke about his story. Rueben went from working in the service industry in Abu Dhabi (which he later used as a reference for his iconic ‘Raju’ bit on Comicstaan) to becoming one of India’s top comics. He went from a kid who stuttered to having people come to his show to hear him talk and crack jokes.
Rueben Kaduskar started doing stand-up three years ago in Abu Dhabi because he was absolutely sick of his job. Just after three open mics in UAE, he came back to his home in Powai. “After moving back to Mumbai, I started hitting open mics across the city. It took me around a year to get noticed within the scene. This period was just me going to open mics, writing every day and honing my craft. Even today, I’ve built an audience. I’m still finding out what I’m doing with stand-up, audience ka toh baad mai hai. I talk about things that I find funny. I talk about a lot of things, I talk about suicide and I also talk about pranking people. I do premises that I find funny but I need to make sure that I make the joke palatable for everyone”, said Rueben about his comedy journey so far.
Rueben’s Recommendations: Doug Stanhope, Marc Maron, Jerrod Carmichael, Hannah Gadsby, DeAnne Smith, Sumit Anand, Abhishek Upamanyu and Karunesh Talwar.
The Serious Business
“There are two kinds of comedians right now in the community, people who were bullied in their childhood and their bullies who still bully people on stage; that’s the spectrum. And it’s generally the earlier who is funnier. They can make fun of themselves better than anyone else. My motive with doing stand-up was to prove people wrong because they thought that I couldn’t do anything, so I wanted to show them that I can do much better. I’ll say the same things that they were saying but I’ll be more successful and I’ll make money out of saying those things. In the Indian circuit no one has found their voice. It takes around 10-15 years to find your ‘voice’ in stand-up. Even if you ask Abhishek Upamanyu, who is considered as one of the best comedians in the country, he too will say the same,” said Rueben about the Indian comedy circuit. He continued, “I think more movies written and featuring Comedians is next. Otherwise the scene is pretty great right now.”
He likes to champion the thought that everyone can be funny and you don’t need to be the ‘funny one’ in the group to be a comedian. He explained, “There are a tonne of comedians that are unfunny off-stage but are very funny people on-stage. Azeem Bannatwala is very asocial off-stage but on-stage he is very funny. He is also very funny when he is drunk. You can be the funny guy in the group and the most unfunny guy on-stage because in a group there is context, you know the people par-taking in that conversation.”
Reueen is gunning for more. He aims to get his special out soon. He also wants to be performing at festivals internationally. He hopes to perform at the mecca of comedy-The Comedy Store in L.A. And if I’ve learnt something about Rueben from our short interaction then it is that he gets what he puts his mind to. So the day where he is headlining at The Comedy Store in LA is not very far.
Rueben’s Favourite Joke
This is a joke by Rodney Dangerfield:
My girlfriend called me and said, 'There's nobody home'. I went over and there was nobody home!
Rueben’s 10 commandments for aspiring comics:
- How stand-up works in terms of progress is that you need your ‘Tight Five’ which to a comedian is at least three applause breaks in the span of five minutes. And these five minutes must work in every room, with every audience, no matter what the size, class or demographic is.
- . Be honest, be original, be authentic, put your story out. People must know where your comedy comes from.
- The only way to becoming a good comedian is through writing and performing at open mics. You need to take feedback from the audience and constantly keep making alterations and trying new things. I go to at least one open mic every day and if I get the chance then I might go and attend more.
- Audio record your bit every time you perform, see where they laugh, see where they don’t laugh. And with time you’ll learn to craft your bit in a way that everyone ends up laughing.
- As a comedian, it’s your job to make people laugh. You need to learn how to open up the deadest crowd, that’s your skill as a comedian. You’re just doing your job that too for 2 hours a day, at least do that bit right.
- Sometimes you need to rest some bits if they aren’t working but you really like them; come back to it later with a fresher perspective.
- If you are doing an edgy joke then you need to loosen them up, draw them into the bit and then hit them with the premise while they’re still on-board with you.
- Find the relatable factors, win the audience over and then take the audience for a ride.
- You have to be afraid every single time that you get on stage. Initially, it’s the fear of going on stage then it becomes the fear of doing bad. If something fails then you don’t need to be dejected, if you really think you have it in you then you’ve got to be confident about your ability to write more and write better jokes.
- Just have fun!
Rueben is gunning for more. He aims to get his special out soon. He also wants to be performing at festivals internationally. He hopes to perform at the mecca of comedy-The Comedy Store in L.A. And if I’ve learnt something about Rueben from our short interaction then it is that he gets what he puts his mind to. So the day where he is headlining at The Comedy Store in LA is not very far.
About the 21 series:
On the 24th of March 2020 the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi announced a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days to fight the pandemic that is the Corona Virus. Citizens mustn’t leave their homes unless absolutely essential. This series aims to bring to the readers 21 positive stories through this 21-day lockdown. Something to inspire them to keep at it and come back out of this horrific tragedy stronger.
If you have an inspiring story or know someone whose story the world must know, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org