Stand-up comic and Delhi resident Nishant Suri was among the low scorers through the first half of Amazon Prime’s reality show Comicstaan. However, Suri did not admit defeat. In subsequent episodes, he delivered a stronger set than before, eventually going on to win the show.
Winning is a matter of doing consistently well, Suri told Scroll.in. “It is also a matter of luck,” he said. “Sometimes you come up with an idea and it is a good idea. And sometimes it may not work. I think I did much better in the second half of the genre, once I developed confidence. That is true for all of the contestants, but for me it somehow worked well.”
The nine-episode Amazon Prime original series featured 10 comics from around the country being mentored and tested by seven well-regarded professionals: Tanmay Bhat, Kanan Gill, Biswa Kalyan Rath, Kenny Sebastian, Naveen Richard, Kaneez Surka and Sapan Verma. Suri was among the five finalists alongside Rahul Dua and Prashasti Singh.
Before his entry into the comedy scene, Suri was an engineer working in Bengaluru. Three years into his job, he realised that his calling lay elsewhere. “I was a class clown in school and was funny in college,” he said. “But I never thought I could take that as up as a career. It was only when I was forced out of my comfort zone that I decided to try. I decided to explore the talents I have. I gave stand up a shot and I was good at it.”
The series tested the comedians on different genres, including improv, sketch comedy and alternative comedy, paving the way for many viral sketches, including Prashasti Singh’s set on modern dating and Aishwarya Mohanraj’s set on the #MeToo movement. Suri’s breakout set was in the alternative genre, which traced his comical search for his imaginary brother Ramesh.
The show has given Suri a platform to venture into untested genres of comedy, he said. “I would never do something like a Ramesh set in a traditional stand up,” he said. “Traditional stand up is going on stage and making jokes. When I started preparing for that episode, I had a completely different idea in mind. And one of the parts of that idea was that I come on stage and look for my lost brother Ramesh.”
The series boasts of some powerhouse performances, but some comedians lost their momentum because of time constraints. A contestant was expected to come up with a set in a week. A good set usually takes many months to be fine-tuned, Suri said.
“You take a set and you gradually change one line here and one line there and pick up the perfect set,” he explained. “It was difficult, but there was no option. Outside of Comicstaan, I can’t do a set in seven days.”
Does Suri have a secret sauce for delivering the laughs? It’s all about delivering relatable topics with honesty. “I think you work better as a comic when you are on stage as you are in real life,” Suri said. “Obviously on stage, you are an exaggerated version of your real self. But the more relaxed you are, the more the audience can see that honesty and connect with you. I have not reached perfection, but at least I am moving in the right direction. I smile more and I talk to the audience more.”
Suri’s concluding set, which saw him tackle topics as varied as hookah smoking and dancing under four minutes, ultimately won him the title. Thanks to the big win, Suri’s upcoming solo show was sold out in a matter of a few days. “It feels amazing. What next?”