The second season of Comicstaan is set to release on July 12 on Amazon Prime Video. Sumukhi Suresh, who hosted the last season with Abish Mathew, will grace the show as a judge this time. Along with her, Zakir Khan and Neeti Patla are the new judges to join the panel that also includes Kanan Gill, Biswa Kalyan Rath, Kaneez Surkha and Kenny Sebastian.
Sumukhi gained recognition with her video series Behti Naak and became a star with her web show Pushpavalli. At the sidelines of the launch of Comicstaan 2, the 31-year-old comedy star spoke exclusively to indianexpress.com about turning a judge, the new season and the struggles of women in the field of comedy.
Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
How was the experience of judging the show?
I really missed hosting a lot but this was definitely more fun. As a host, the advantage is that you can be neutral and like everybody. To judge someone is difficult but I really enjoyed the entire experience. I also got to mentor the contestants, which was a lot of fun. With the new judges coming in, this season will have a new vibe altogether.
Was it tough to judge?
I won’t call it tough but yes it did take some time. I was nervous and still in the host mode. But all my other co-judges were really helpful. I remember Kenny telling me that I could start talking about things like stage hygiene initially, something that I am a little particular about, and tell contestants on how to fix that. I think that was good advice and it really helped me.
Tell us more about your mentoring experience.
It was amazing. I took charge of the sketch comedy genre. I also realised I was quite a mother to these kids. During the performance, when a judge didn’t like one of the acts, I went crazy that ‘Mere bacche ko aise kaise bola?’ (How dare you say that to my kid?) That was so new to me. I think Comicstaan 2 has helped me find more about my personality.
While most of the contestants from season one managed to get popular, how did the show change things for you?
When you are on a show as big as Comicstaan, everyone ends up knowing you. That also helped my other work on the internet pick up. The show also took comedy to a different level. People now understand the different genres. Naveen (Richard) and I have been working on sketches for a long time and it’s now that the audience connects to it much better.
Last year, you told us how people are not confident in backing a show about an over-weight protagonist. Do you feel things have changed now?
Maybe not and I think that comes purely from the physical attributes. People are still not ready to helm projects for us. If someone wishes to make it, I would be most happy doing it. But till then, we are still considered only as the best friend from Kal Ho Naa Ho.
The previous season had one female judge and this year there are three. Do you feel the ratio of women in comedy is finally increasing?
If we are seeing more women, I think that it has grown for the better. In a time, when girls picking their own career is problematic, being a comedian is really a difficult task. My parents, for the longest time, didn’t even know I was doing this. It was only after Pushpavalli that they got to know about it. So yes, it’s a challenge. Also, I wouldn’t have chosen comedy if I was still in Nagpur. Being in a city like Bangalore, which celebrates the industry, helped me take it up.
Comicstaan 2 will be hosted by Abish Mathew and Urooj Ashfaq.