Stand up and Be Counted

Stand up and Be Counted

Vaibhav Sethia on his new show Don’t, and why live stand-up comedy is the real deal

Stand-up comedy
Stand-up comic Vaibhav Sethia

Written by Kritika Gogte

In most forms of comedy, there are few things funnier than watching a man’s angry rant. Vaibhav Sethia’s special Don’t that released recently on Amazon Prime is based on this theme. As Sethia says, ‘Don’t is one-hour of him venting about things in everyday life that annoy him. “So, it’s mostly about how annoying people are in general. It’s everything that I find annoying in people’s behaviour. And it’s not just people — anything around me which may be annoying. These are basically little irrational traits. It’s just me telling them, ‘guys let’s not do this’.”

Don’t is a solo tour that Sethia began last year. He explains that while he does other shows as well, the material for Don’t is specifically created for the show. “I’ve just stopped doing this anywhere else, except in bars. Now the shows that I do, I don’t do any of these jokes,” he says.

Sethia’s familiarity with the material came from having performed Don’t 35 to 40 times already while touring the country. However, the experience of putting together a web show was different. “There’s so much to do — like recording, publicity, trailers and teasers. Then I had to find out the difference between trailers and teasers.”


Sethia has also made a conscious decision to move as far as possible from any inflammatory jokes. The norm for comics is to be a part of the storm, which is exactly what he wants to stay away from. “Right now, my work has no such sensitive topics. There was one that had to do with religion, so I told myself that if I wanted jail time I should go ahead and do it. I ended up not doing it, which was really sad. My humour is mostly observational — it’s about day-to-day things, like how annoying kids are or venting about phone networks. It’s very generic,” he says.

Sethia, who started performing in 2011, after watching a Russell Peters show, has been a witness to the rise of the stand-up comedy phenomenon. “When I started out, there was nothing to show to my parents. Now there are centres such as Mumbai, Pune and Delhi that have become really reactive to stand-up. I am sure there is an open mic happening in at least 15 to 20 areas right now,” he says.

The comic who performed in Pune’s Phoenix Market City earlier this week, also branched out into writing last year for Laakhon Mein Ek, a show created by fellow Biswa Kalyan Rath. However, instead of riding the wave of creating content on a similar platform, Sethia wants to focus on his stand-up. “I like doing stand-up live; I don’t like uploading videos on YouTube. What is available online is just a sampler. What happens live is the core, so I would never like to compromise on that,” he says.