Why are many (if not most) top comedians from the city of Bangalore? The answer seems simple enough – most of them are disenchanted IT employees who turned their eyes to the stage, the mic, or the internet, and established themselves in one of the trendiest up-and-coming industries of India. But is it just the plant, or is the soil underneath it working some magic too?
This tale of giving up your boring day job to follow your passions is not a new one, and comedians are certainly not the first ones to give up their lucrative jobs for some risky ‘art’. But just as Mumbai was once the haven of those who wished to be in the motion pictures, Bangalore today welcomes every comedian with open arms; and more, an open mics. The crowd may not be more than a handful, the jokes may fall flat, and the money may be little to none. But it is a start, and it is a start in the city that promises much for those who succeed.
These open mics are not just benevolent gestures of pubs and bars hoping to attract more customers. The trend is rooted in the culture of the city itself. Home to a diverse, educated population supplemented by the constant influx of tech workers and students, the city is a bubbling mixture of people who work hard and play harder. The don’t mind paying just a little more for the food, if the entertainment in front of them is good. Sometimes, it may be not, and the audience doesn’t shy away from being open about it. But most comedians who take their work seriously brush off this ‘bombing’ phenomenon.
For them, it is a part of becoming a better entertainer. It is only when jokes fail to make the patrons laugh do they see what the audience really wants. Just the a little time on the stage that they want, no matter what the outcome at the end of the day is. The internet can make you viral for a few days, but not many can stretch that into something solid. Word of mouth, on the other hand, can work miracles for a career.
Today, open mics and stage shows are a central pillar of Bangalore’s cultural scene, and it is no wonder than many chose to go there to kick start their career. It is a mutually beneficial relationship between the house and the entertainer, which despite some rocky days, can work well if the output is consistent. The city and its countless places are a perfect springboard for young comedians, which can launch them up to corporate deals, professional work, national level stage shows and even internet deals. Despite the success of this model, many cities are not yet ready to accept this form of live entertainment. Perhaps this is why Bangalore continues to have the most laughs.