In this interview series where we ask questions to people who are making a difference, it can be big, it can be small it doesn’t matter what matters is their contribution to our society. It can be anyone from any walks of life and from any country. Please, do send us suggestions of people whom you think we should interview for this series.
George Vivian Paul is a Civil Engineer turned stand-up comedian. He predominantly perform shows in Kolkata and Kochi with comedy clubs called The Komedians and Comedified. He stay in Barrackpore with two of his dogs, Jenny and Noah. Following are his views on some of the questions we asked.
Tell us something about yourself?
Im a Malayali born into a Army family. I was provided with the best education across the country with extremely high hopes and aspirations of joining the army someday and out ranking my father and grandfather before that, or have a spectacular career in medicine. My father was by far the most brilliant in his family, I have lost count of number of degrees my mother has taken over the years. Professional and academic excellence was the least that could be expected from me.As things turned out I did my engineering and now tell jokes.
Why did you chose to leave your job and venture into stand-up comedy?
After I dragged my way through school, I met my next hurdle: Civil Engineering. Then a 9 to 9 job in a construction site immediately after that, I felt extremely discontent in there. I worked in the execution team of engineers, which meant my work site were literally barren lands where things had to be built from scratch. Not a single tree or a blade of grass for that matter for shade. My interest to return to work as a civil engineer began to trickle away quick with each passing day. I simply had no incentive to go back to work.
I was a big fan popular TV series like Friends, Seinfeld, Sarabhai vs Sarabhai, Family Guy, House M.D, The Office The daily show with Jon Stewart and subsequently Last week Tonight with John Oliver and many many many many others. Eventually my attention turned to Stand-up Comedy, I noticed that was naturally drawn to comedy.While working in Kolkata, one fine day Stand-up Comedy just presented itself before me with opportunities for aspiring comics. Rather than pondering over it too much I decided to just reboot and have a job that would actually make me wake up in the morning without an alarm.
What is the most challenging part of being a stand-up comedian?
Personally I feel finding ones “voice” is the most challenging and yet the most crucial part of being a Stand-up Comedian. The sooner the comic discovers his/her “voice”, the better. Like a painter, musician, filmmaker who leave their signature in their work, a comic eventually must reach a point where his/her jokes have a definitive flavor that stands out, with perspective unique only to that comic. A state of mind, which on stage makes the right call on the delivery of jokes, makes on the spot variations in the script, gives exactly the right amount of pause and at the right time so on and so forth. Reaching that stage may take years maybe more. But once there, I’m told that it is pure Nirvana.
Where do you want to see yourself in this line of work?
I see myself to be content till I die and attain a happy state of mind making others laugh while at it. On a slightly less delusional note, I would definitely want to have a sustainable career in comedy. I want to eventually relocate to my hometown Kochi. Before that could happen there has to be robust Stand-up Comedy Scene there to absorb me. There are now many Stand-up Comedy events organised frequently in the state as of now. There are many promising talents that makes me very optimistically hopeful to achieve this goal in 3-4 years. Things do look very optimistic in Kerala.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt so far being a stand-up comedian?
Human beings can have really different point of views. The scale of variations in their opinions are breathtakingly massive.
How does your audience react to sensitive topics?
I don’t think anybody goes on stage absolutely sure as to what is to be expected. Stand-up comedy is a very organic form of art form. Every performance is different from the previous one. Nobody can predict how the audience will react to their jokes. Every region has its own specific topics that cannot be disturbed from its status quo. be it religion, personalities or any issues. One just hopes to come with a convincing enough come back line to the heckler who interrupted your act. Veteran comics have a bunch of comeback lines ready that could be used in almost all scenarios. One gets to that level of that proficiency only by facing audience multiple times.
Your message for our readers?
Hopefully find a sustainable job, where you do not have to use the alarm clock.