OK we’ll go with the cliche opening line for this interview – Fatherhood is no funny business. But it is full of funny, memorable, surprising and occasionally gross moments. One thing is for sure – for a father, nothing else will compare to the experience of seeing their baby grow right in front of his eyes, and some day say, “Dad, you’re wrong. Just give me my pocket money”. Everyone deals with parenthood differently. Some people join parenting classes, other people take some time off, read guides and talk to elders. What does our interviewee do? He goes ahead and makes a stand up comedy show- “My Baby Thinks I’m Funny”! On the occasion of Father’s Day, we interviewed one of India’s most successful comedians, one of the biggest Twitter celebs, and the one and only father of Vikramaditya Pant – Sorabh Pant.
Q. Firstly, tell us what your clothes smell like when you’re at home, around your baby.
Well, earlier they’d smell like whatever liquids or foods my baby had eaten. Like a melange of babiness. I smell like a giant baby. Now though – my son has become more controlled. So, I’m back to smelling like an Old Spice Supermodel. I’m off to Singapore for a show about my son at the moment – so, hopefully when I’m back, my son will be excited enough to cover me with his er… enthusiasm.
Q. You’ve dealt with satire, Indian communities, Bollywood, cricket and much more in your stand up acts. What made you look at your baby and say “Hey, here’s some new material for my shows!”
Everything. Right from the conception of the baby – OK, that part wasn’t *exactly* funny – to the pregnancy, the doctors, Lamaze class etc. Everything about it was hilarious. But, most of it is inspired by my son’s birth. And, loving to hang out with him. And, amusing him. Hence, the title of the show, ‘My Baby Thinks I’m Funny’.
Q. Give us a glimpse of what aspects of fatherhood you focus on while writing the material for ‘My baby finds me funny.”
It starts right from the mystical Sonography that you pretend to understand to the Nursery Rhymes that drive you insane but, are needed. Then, about how babies are secretly evil, breastfeeding, tests before pregnancy and of course, the pregnancy and delivery itself.
The core of it though is about celebrating being a parent.
Q. Tell us about your journey from ‘Pants on Fire’ and ‘Travelling Pants’ to Diaper Pants. Was it the way you had envisioned it?
Nope. Never even thought I’d have a baby. But, now I love that we did have one. And, want more. This was the one show I didn’t put a ‘Pant’ based pun in the title because, a lot of the content transcended that aspect.
Took me longer to figure out this title of the show than all the others put together!
Q. Indian stand up acts have jokes about the process of creating a baby – jokes that make you go ‘Hawww’ instead of Awww. Was there a moment of doubt that jokes about fatherhood would be too different for laughs?
Nope. I didn’t want to do a show that manipulates emotions. It’s a fun show and it’s a celebration. Some bits will be a little bit much. But, mostly across both shows we’ve done so far. The response has been phenomenal. More so than my previous specials.
Q. Do you have a drool covered notepad to take down funny incidents as they happen? Since everything that babies do is fascinating, how do you decide what goes in your act?
My son oddly didn’t drool much. He’s very classy. He’s a Shashi Tharoor baby. I was making notes through every doctor’s appointment and even the birth process etc. etc. My wife has gotten used to it by now.
The fascinating part about babies for this show is the parts that are funny. That was the end game. Over the last month – I was on stage every single day, sometimes twice a day testing jokes. If they weren’t funny – they were out. So, there were some really mad bits about diaper changing and my son’s habit of doing the baby thing of doing one thing repeatedly because you can. But, sadly – weren’t funny enough.
Q. Do people expect you to be more toned down in your new show as compared to your earlier ones? Do you yourself find yourself controlling your language?
The short answer to that question is: No.
However, I am intentionally trying to not abuse or use expletives for the sake of it. I’m not pretending to be mature or anything. Just a little bit wiser. There are a few expletives in the show but, everyone of them is there for a reason. Nothing needless.
Q. There are very few people who make fun of parenthood in India as compared to the West, where funny parenting tweets, videos or stand up acts are common. Why do you think this difference exists?
Well, the English stand up comedy scene in India is not too old. I think we’ve been at it and in the public eye for barely 3 – 5 years. And, most of the comedians are young. The guys that have babies are basically considered Senior Citizens. I mean Atul Khatri and Amit Tandon have spoken about this kind of stuff. And, done it quite well.
But, I think going more in depth is probably because I’m 34 and by stand up standards – an ancient old fart!
Q. Most people go from joking about bachelor life, marriage and then kids. You seemed to have skipped a step. Why don’t we see too many jokes about marriage from you?
You’ve obviously not seen too many of my shows :). We do a show called Men Are From Bars which is all about marriage. Even this show has A LOT about marriage including how I met my wife and how our private life is.
Q. What’s the one funniest piece of advice that well meaning elders have given you during your journey of parenthood?
I’m usually not listening.
But, I make them give their advice by implementing it themselves and taking care of the baby directly.
Why give advice – take care of the child and the wife and me are going for a movie.
Q. What is your family’s reaction to you making your son a muse for your funny digs?
Well, my wife, mom, mom in-law and sister have seen the show. And, they really liked it. Like a lot more than my other shows. My mother in-law thought it was poignant in parts but, I think she’s being very nice. I didn’t intend that! The poignancy is unintentional.
Q. By your own admission, your baby finds you funny. Do you find him funny too? What’s the most fascinating thing he’s done till now?
He is hilarious. My favourite Comedian in the country. Maybe the world. But, I think that’s what most parents think about their kids.
If you want to know what he did – come see the live show, I talk about him at length!
Q. You said you found babies annoying before having your own. Is the amazing tag reserved only for your baby or do you coo over others’ babies too now?
My friends’ and my baby. At the moment. But, this is development as far as I’m concerned. I always thought babies were strange things. Now, I realize they aren’t. I’ve been smiling at random babies on the roads and making faces and making them laugh. I’m finding myself odd! 32 year old me would look at 34 year old me and wonder what is wrong with this idiot.
Q. Is there a chance that when Vikramaditya is old enough, he will see some of your videos and demand royalty?
Hopefully, he’ll be in a good school or college by then. And, would have traveled to different parts of the world – so, his royalty would have been cashed in! Either way – I’m doing Singapore this Saturday, maybe a decade down I’ll have my son open in a world tour for me.
That was Sorabh Pant making our Father’s Day weekend happier and brighter! Did this interview leave you wanting for more? There’s more coming soon! And if you wish to catch Sorabh’s show ‘My Baby Thinks I’m Funny’, book your tickets for SOTA at Singapore on 18th June, 24th June in Bangalore at Allianz Francais and then at Kala Kunj in Kolkata on 17th July. Just like his baby, we’re sure even you’ll find Sorabh funny!