When Forbes Magazine describes you as “the global face of Indian stand up”, you must be genuinely good! But one thing I can tell you after interacting with Papa CJ is that he’s not just an amazingly talented comedian, but also, an amazingly humane human being. While talking about his experience of working with Russell Peters, Papa CJ said that he loved working with Peters not because he’s outstanding in his work, but because he’s a gem of a person. Well, that’s exactly what we can say about you, Papa CJ, as well. But here’s a warning from our end – even though he has a heart of a saintly being (and personality of a Jesus’s Indian avatar), he’s always armed with a sharp, witty, predominantly sarcastic sense of humour. And that’s what makes him so interesting!
Were you funny as a kid? When was the first time you realized that you can be a stand-up comedian?
I don’t remember whether I was funny as a kid, but I was a very naughty kid. Also, I was a very intelligent child. I always completed all my work on time and thus be able to get away with my mischiefs. On the other hand, the other kids who played with me would get into trouble. As far as stand-up comedy is concerned, I first saw stand-up comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2004. The minute I saw it I realized that this was something I wanted to do. I mean here was a guy on stage holding a microphone in one hand and a drink in the other and he was just fooling around having fun. And that was his job! I thought that was the most amazing thing in the world. Three months later I was on stage in London doing my first ever stand-up comedy show. I went on to do 700 shows in the next three years.
Where do you get most of your jokes from?
Almost all my material comes from life experience. I talk about things that I go through, see, observe and my opinion on them. As comedians, we have a way of looking at our lives through a very different lens. We are able to process all of our life experiences and find the funny in them. It’s a wonderful way of being able to process unfortunate experiences in life as well because we are always able to find the funny or the positive in them.
You switched from being a management consultant to a stand-up guy and that takes a lot of courage. Do you have any advice for people who are contemplating to do something like this in their lives?
Management consulting is not very different from stand up comedy. Basically, you are talking bullshit in both professions. Except as a stand-up comedian you get more respect! My advice for people who are contemplating a career change like this is to go and follow their hearts. If you can make a living doing something that you love, there are few greater joys than that.
Tell us about your Happiness Project?
The Papa CJ Happiness Project is my attempt to set an example for individual social responsibility. I try and do what best I can within my own individual capacity to bring happiness to those who need it the most. I have done entire country-wide tours to raise money for multiple charities. I have gone into hospitals to perform for doctors and patients. I have gone into the homes of people who have been ill for a long time to perform for just them and their families. My smallest audience during this initiative has been one person. Few shows have given me the kind of joy that these shows have given me.
Tell us honestly, you are not getting a haircut because you secretly think your powers to make people laugh is in your long hair, right?
I have many long things in my body and hair is just one of them. So don’t be so presumptuous. I have multiple superpowers and their sources lie in multiple places. Mwah ha ha ha!
Catch Papa CJ Live and Uncensored on 19th Sept at Y Theatre, Youth Square, Chai Wan, Hong Kong. For event details: Papa CJ Live and Uncensored Event Listing To participate in the giveaway: Papa CJ Giveaway Contest To book your tickets: Papa CJ Urbtix