The chances of you having heard of Anubhav Singh Bassi are rare, unless you are one of the regulars at the live stand-up circuit, and don’t get their laughs through viral videos, like most of us. Bassi, in all probability, is the bestselling stand-up comic you haven’t heard of. He has toured about 35 cities — as far as Gorakhpur and Surat — in a span of six months, with sold-out shows. We searched for Bassi on YouTube, and there are only two videos available — one where he talks about cheating, which has 27 million views, and the other on waxing which has 15 million views.
We wondered about the lack of his presence in the digital space. “That’s because I am not a YouTuber,” chuckles the comic, as we meet with him on a chilly winter morning in Delhi. “I am a live performer. For me, to develop content, I need a live audience. Without that, we would never know if the line or the joke is actually funny or not. Open mics are like laboratories, that’s where we test out new jokes. And there is no guarantee that if a joke works in one place, it will be consistently funny across the country. A joke is always a work in progress,” says Bassi, 30.
Born and brought up Meerut — the city is a constant refrain in his act — Bassi was on track to be a lawyer. He graduated from National Law University, Lucknow, arrived in Delhi, and started preparing for the civil services. But it dawned upon him that the run of the mill life was not meant for him. Next up was a restaurant, a fast food one at that. “But that failed as well. I even worked with a startup, but to no avail. In my spare time, I started going to open mics”, adds the Delhi-based comic. He says, “I used to watch a lot of stuff by Sumit Anand, Pratyush Choubey and Zakir Khan. One day, I googled about an open mic and landed there. They asked if I had a script, and I just muttered, “apni bezzati toh kar hi lenge”.
Bassi’s show, Bas Kar Bassi, is a two-hour gig, with most of humour coming from his own experiences. In the past, he has made fun of the black attire of lawyers, “Why? In this 45-degree Delhi heat”. Toxic masculinity features prominently in the video where he talks about getting waxed. “Humein kehte hain ki tum strong ho, koi yeh nahin kehta ki tameez se rehna,” exclaims Bassi in the video, adding, “In the West, we have improv, where the template of ‘Yes. And?’, is in use. Here, we have a ‘No. But?’ concept,” says Bassi.
With many women also coming to the fore, he feels the laughs will only increase. “We have moved beyond the ‘women are not funny’ idea; at the end of the day, it’s about the writing. But at times I think women comics also need to move beyond jokes around their gender. Dahab Chishti from Delhi is someone to look out for,” he adds. “Shreeja Chaturvedi, who came on Comicstaan this year, is phenomenal; she jokes about dustbins yaar,” he points out.
But we still have a long way to go. “Our society is star-struck as a default setting. Most people who come to my show, come for my name, rather than for content. We love labelling and boxing people, we will watch a certain kind of comedy from a certain comic, and if someone else tries it, it may not work,” he adds.
Bas Kar Bassi will be performed today in Gurgaon, and on January 26 in Noida. Tickets on Bookmyshow
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