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Monday, June 01, 2020

Kanan Gill on the future of stand-up comedy after coronavirus: All live art forms will suffer

Kanan Gill on his early days as a stand-up artiste, the increasing number of digital avenues, and the stand-up scene after coronavirus pandemic.

Written by Sampada Sharma | New Delhi | Updated: April 24, 2020 8:36:52 am
kanan gill netflix special Kanan Gill’s Netflix special ‘Yours Sincerely, Kanan Gill’ starts streaming on April 24.

Kanan Gill’s latest stand-up special Yours Sincerely, Kanan Gill is streaming on Netflix.

In a conversation with, Kanan talked about his early days as a stand-up artiste, the increasing number of digital avenues and the stand-up scene after the pandemic.

Here are excerpts from the conversation:

We are all in this lockdown and that’s when your special starts streaming on Netflix. The circumstances are unfortunate, but is it like an unforeseen advantage for you?

Haha, I don’t know. I would rather people watch the show in their own time and not feel like they’re locked in a room with it.

You have had a long relationship with the digital space over the last few years. With the space getting crowded, you think it’s hard to retain your audience?

I have found that if you keep doing the work that you find convincing, you keep building newer audiences. If you create what you find interesting, however silly or absurd, there is always an audience for it. It might be smaller or bigger, but there will be people who are into your strangeness.

Yours Sincerely, Kanan Gill has a nostalgic feel to it. Can you share one of your fondest memories from your early days as a stand-up artiste?

There was an open mic once a week in Bangalore. This is 2012. I was still developing software at the time, and I used to leave work early (6:30 pm was very early) on Wednesday, go to a coffee shop, write, rehearse in the loo and then finally go on stage at about 8 pm. I miss that routine. I miss looking forward to that Wednesday. But I really don’t miss the rest of the week.

Every few years, there’s a new platform. Earlier it was Facebook, then Instagram and now it’s TikTok. As a content creator, how do you modify your content to work for a particular platform?

Each platform offers you a cool way to use it. Vine made a lot of careers and people gained huge followings on their blogs ages ago too. I think rather than forcing myself to adapt, I try to look for an exciting way I can use the platform. If I find one, I am there. If I can’t, then I will leave it to the people who do it better than me.

The stand-up scene in India could suffer because of the pandemic as lesser people will step out of the house even after the lockdown ends. How do you plan to counter this scenario?

All live art forms will suffer, and that’s just the way it looks. We are trying a few new formats online, streaming and live online shows, but it’s too early to say what will work. There’s financial uncertainty amongst both the artistes and the audiences, so only time will tell.

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