A Not So Anonymous Interview with Wannabe Anonymous

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Wannabe Anonymous is an amalgamation of two friends, Siddharth Singh and Prakhar Maheshwari, who found a common love for standup and decided to launch themselves in the humour industry. The Delhi boys have the wits to crack you up! The team has been performing all over Delhi NCR for the past three months. We got to interview the duo and dig into their comical minds.

Q. Let me start with a standard boring question every interviewer has to ask – How did this venture come into being?

Both: The two of us spent our first two years of graduation in a very clichéd manner. There were fests, college societies, studies and let’s give some credit to Delhi which has a lot of places to explore. At the same time, we were huge fans of this form of ‘art’. It was only in the latter half of the second year that we began to hang out with each other a bit more and eventually realised that both of us had this common flair for Stand-Up Comedy. We used to discuss the idea or the experience, if there were to be any, of performing an act in front of an audience. The idea itself was so indulging that we decided to go ahead and start off with our very own Wannabe Anonymous. The main thrust of the concept of Wannabe Anonymous was the lack of such a platform which kind of kept us from starting as individuals. We decided that we should take the lead and maybe help other interested people as well.

Q. Wannabe Anonymous has been posting YouTube videos for the past three months. (That’s right. I did my homework!) So, what are the particular challenges a stand-up team; new to YouTube has to face?

Both: As much as we appreciate your doing your homework, we hope that you subscribed to our channel as well. Anyway, we like how you used the term ‘Stand-Up team’. The industry does not really have a lot of two-member performers. You might point out Kanan and Biswa, but they got famous by doing YouTube videos, and not a Stand-Up comedy! So, to be able to appeal to the audience as Stand-Up artists doing the act together is in itself a bit of a challenge. At the same time, we already have a lot of artists who have risen to fame with YouTube. Now, what happens is that the audience kind of yearns for the well-established artists’ acts. To be able to make a mark in the middle of these established folks is a challenge. We are very new and not many people know about us. Thus, to be able to get views on the videos that we put up gets a bit difficult. However, people have been nice and with every act, we are gaining popularity. Let’s see how this goes.

Q. What/Who is your ultimate comic inspiration?

Prakhar: See, I admire anyone who does Stand-Up Comedy. You can watch someone perform and there won’t be a single occasion when you won’t learn something. You always get to take something back home. At the same time, if I were to pick my favourites, I belong to the generation that grew up watching comedians like Raju Shrivastava and Surendra Sharma perform on the Indian Television. Internationally, the late George Carlin with his black comedy has done remarkable work. The list is kind of long.

Siddharth: My ultimate comic inspiration? Wow, it’s hard to pick. I’ll categorise them into fictional; and not. Chandler Bing has to be the funniest character I’ve personally watched on daytime television, followed closely by Michael Scott from “The Office”. A recommendation to all the readers at this point from me. If you haven’t watched Steve Carell’s “The Office”, watch it ASAP!

As far as the Stand-Up comedians are concerned, I’ll go with Raju Shrivastava, Sunil Pal, Kenny Sebastian, Papa CJ and of course, Vir Das. All these people are amazing. Their content, their delivery and their aura when they’re on stage is awe-inspiring, truly. It would be a dream come true, and I’m sure Prakhar thinks the same if we get to perform on the same stage as these legends one day!

Q. What in your opinion is the biggest myth that hugs the humour industry and humorists?

Prakhar: To be very honest, we are still in our infancy. To be able to make a comment on the particulars of the industry would be difficult for me. Although, there’s this misconception that I, as an audience, used to have and I believe many people still do – generating laughter is not that big a task. What happens is that people think that if you have a certain content and an audience, you’re good to go. That is kind of wrong. The content has to match the mental frequencies of your audience.

Siddharth: I think Prakhar has made all the right points. It won’t be correct if we comment on the industry. Although in the few shows that I’ve been lucky enough to do, I’ve realised that an audience is sometimes even more important than the script a comedian is acting out. If the crowd has made up its mind of not listening to you, they will not listen to you, simple as that. But there’s not much you can do on the stage at that point of time, you’ve just got to concentrate and finish your act!

Q. I assume you like to make people laugh and that’s why you chose the funny alleyway. What was the defining moment that made you two decide to plunge into the humour industry?

Both: We both have a knack of not only making people laugh but also making sarcastic remarks at people or each other for that matter. We all know that not everyone likes to be around people like us, always finding something or the other to laugh at but we both knew that we had a decent enough sense of humour. So, this one night, around September last year, one of us watched a video on YouTube and sent it to the other. This was regular. However, what followed was an hour-long discussion on how we could be doing the same thing! That, we believe, was it. The very next day we sat down and started to write our first script.

Q. Majority of the comedy in present time is done at the expense of someone else. Is doing comedy while still being compassionate too difficult for artists? What’s your take on this?

Both: Yes, the comedy that the Indian audience has to witness on Prime time television is indeed very distressing for us to see. People today seem to be confusing the terms ‘humour’ and ‘mockery’. We think a great example of this was the now off-air show by Kapil Sharma that aired on a TV channel every weekend. People love to laugh at others; it’s an innate tendency in us, as humans. It’s like that quote, “If my best friend falls, I’d pick him up, but after I’m done laughing at him.” This kind of an attitude, albeit true with us as well, is being taken to the next level when it is coming to stage humour. Artists need to understand that what they’re doing is going to have an impact on somebody’s thinking, somebody’s perceptions, among other things. It’s really important to find the correct balance in your act.

We believe if a comedian puts in that extra effort, that extra *oomph* into his or her script, there is absolutely no need to be demeaning to anyone. Hurting somebody to create humour is not appreciated by serious comedians, and we stand by this.

Q. Any future plans to take a stab at other formats of comedy?

Both: This is actually something we have been thinking about for some time now. YouTube gives us, and other youngsters like us such an amazing platform to showcase our talents to the world, that it might be wrong on our part not to make the most of it. Our start has been pretty good, and we know this because of the reviews people have been telling us personally and on our Facebook Page as well. Actually, we’ve already made a funny “BROHOOD” video on the song AtrangiYaari from Wazir, which was released during the Valentine’s Week, and it got a positive response. This has encouraged us to think along these lines. We have an idea about a web series that we think has potential, so let’s see how that pans out in the coming weeks!

Q. A joke you’ve been thinking all along this interview? Go!

Both: 5 shows and University Express. Is this a joke?

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