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
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.”