HAVE A WITTY WEEK­END

Kapil Sharma’s im­pec­ca­ble tim­ing, rapid de­liv­ery and im­promptu jokes have made Com­edy Nights with Kapil the high­est- rated non- fic­tion show on small screen

India Today - - PROFILE - By Suhani Singh

It’s a grey, wet af­ter­noon in Mum­bai but that hasn’t stopped over 200 peo­ple, rang­ing from young­sters to cou­ples tag­ging their months- old ba­bies along, from lin­ing up out­side Floor 17 in Film City, Gore­gaon. There’s Ajay Devgn and Prakash Jha, on their pro­mo­tional rounds for Satya­graha, keep­ing the throng in­ter­ested, but it’s a two- and- a- half- hour- long wait be­fore the ac­tion un­folds. In walk ac­tors Ali As­gar and Su­nil Grover, fol­lowed by Navjot Singh Sidhu to lusty ap­plause. But the crowd goes deliri­ous when Kapil Sharma emerges and pro­ceeds to play the drums and sing a med­ley of hit num­bers from Devgn’s films. As­gar, as the sneaker- wear­ing Daadi, Grover, who’s best when es­say­ing fe­male char­ac­ters, and Sidhu with his patented wise­cracks are part of the en­sem­ble, but it takes a Sharma to make Com­edy Nights with Kapil the laugh­ter riot it is.

Kapil Sharma’s brand of hu­mour re­lies heav­ily on in­sult­ing or mock­ing oth­ers, mostly the au­di­ence and even the celebri­ties— Av­tar Gill, Reema La­goo, Chunky Pandey. But that only makes them come back for more. “Thou­sands of peo­ple tweet to tell me that they want to come on our show,” says Sharma, who es­says the role of Bit­too, a mag­a­zine owner with a quirky fam­ily. “There is no mal­ice but a child­like in­no­cence or naiveté to my char­ac­ter. That’s why they don’t mind.”

Sharma’s im­pec­ca­ble tim­ing, rapid de­liv­ery and spon­tane­ity, which of­ten re­sults in un­scripted jokes, make him the un­ques­tioned King of Com­edy on the small screen. Com­edy Nights with Kapil has notched TAM rat­ings vary­ing from 2.8 to 3.3 since it made its de­but in June. It is cur­rently the high­est- rated non- fic­tion show, best­ing oth­ers like In­dian Idol Ju­nior on Sony and Dance In­dia Dance Su­per Moms on Zee TV. Sharma has bagged the prime week­end slot on Col­ors with back- to- back of­fer­ings, one as the co- host of dance show Jha­lak Dikhhla Jaa with Man­ish Paul and the other the epony­mous one which also marks the de­but of his pro­duc­tion house, K9. Last year, he ranked 96 on Forbes’ top 100 In­dian celebri­ties. With two pop­u­lar shows on air in 2013, his rank­ing is only go­ing to get bet­ter.

Comedu Nights’ pop­u­lar­ity has seen Shah Rukh Khan and Ro­hit Shetty ap­pear twice to pro­mote Chen­nai Ex­press and Lata Mangeshkar post a tweet ap­plaud­ing Sharma’s vo­cal tal­ent. It’s won fans like Jy­oti Dubey, 23, an em­ployee with an in­vest­ment bank, who has watched the show live as well as re­peat tele­casts. “It is far bet­ter than the saas- bahu shows,” she says.

Com­edy wasn’t Sharma’s forte to be­gin with. The son of an Am­rit­sar po­lice of­fi­cer, he dab­bled in theatre at the city’s Hindu Col­lege and later at Apee­jay Col­lege of Fine Arts in Ja­land­har, where he pur­sued a diploma in com­mer­cial arts. He then worked

“Where I come from, we are a happy- golucky lot who ask weird ques­tions.” - KAPIL SHARMA

as a drama teacher at Hans Raj Mahila Maha Vidyalaya and BD Arya in Ja­land­har. It was when he won a Pun­jabi com­edy show, Haste Hasate Raho, in 2005 that Sharma re­alised stand- up com­edy came nat­u­rally to him. “Where I come from, we are a happy- go- lucky lot who ask weird ques­tions,” ex­plains the 32- year- old co­me­dian.

Sharma first burst onto the national spot­light on The Great In­dian Laugh­ter Chal­lenge, which he won in 2007. He also show­cased his ver­sa­til­ity as a singer on Star Ya Rockstar in 2011, fin­ish­ing sec­ond. His comic ca­pers took off with Com­edy Cir­cus on Sony where he re­galed judges such as Ro­hit Shetty for seven sea­sons from 2010 to 2012. Shetty even promised him a part in his film. When he didn’t de­liver, Sharma made him a tar­get of his jokes. “He has the power to rein­vent and mod­ify him­self,” says Sidhu.

Sharma’s top­ics vary from hu­mor­ous al­ter­ca­tions be­tween a hus­band and his nag­ging wife to the stark dif­fer­ence be­tween flight at­ten­dants em­ployed with pri­vate and pub­lic air­lines. “Dur­ing shows, some­times I’m not even lis­ten­ing to what the per­son is say­ing, just ob­serv­ing what he is wear­ing and his man­ner­isms.”

Af­ter two hours of non- stop laughs on Floor 17, the crew steps out for a break. Sharma will shoot an­other seg­ment of his mar­quee show. The fol­low­ing morn­ing he is off to Kolhapur for an event. And then it’s back on the sets of Jha­lak in Filmis­tan, Gore­gaon. Sidhu is con­vinced Sharma is here for the long run: “This guy is the Sachin Ten­dulkar of com­edy.”

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