With his slender physique, wire-framed glasses, and long salt and pepper hair, Papa CJ looks every bit like an Oxford don or perhaps a computer scientist but when he steps onto the stage and goes before the mic, all hell breaks loose as he unleashes a string of raunchy and acerbic jokes that has gotten the audience rolling on the floor.
Papa CJ is widely recognised as the global face of cutting-edge Indian stand-up comedy and one of Asia's leading comedians.
In 2008, he represented India on NBC's TV Show Last Comic Standing, where from amongst the thousands of global comedians who took part, he was ranked one of the top ten comedians in the world.
The comic will be heading down to Singapore for the second edition of the Kings and Queen of Comedy Asia where he will share the stage alongside Kumar, Harith Iskander, Paul Ogata and Ronny Chieng. inSing.com caught up with Papa CJ for a quick chat.
Hi Papa CJ! Welcome to Singapore. What is the one thing you're looking forward to doing here?
More than anything else I'm looking forward to performing. I've heard many good things about the Esplanade Concert Hall and I'm looking forward to making over 3,000 people laugh their heads off. Well that and the four floors of... ; )
In your own words, how would you define your style of comedy?
I'd rather use the words of a school teacher who wrote to the parents of an ex-girlfriend of mine, telling them that their daughter was dating 'a wolf in sheep's clothing'. My comedy is like that. It looks innocent on the surface but in the words of the British Theatre Guide, there's 'a sly sting in the tail'.
What made you give up your corporate career to take up comedy?
I realised that stand-up comedy was my calling soon after I started doing it. Had I not thrown up my job, I would currently be rotting in the cesspit of a corporate organisation as an underachiever with little ambition who compromised on his dream to follow his heart. I gave up my corporate career for comedy because I figured I’d much rather be on a stage kicking ass than be in an office kissing it.
What gives you inspiration for your performances?
I have positive and negative sources of inspiration. I receive positive inspiration each time I'm in bed with Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox together. Unfortunately due to their busy schedules that happens only 12-15 times a year. On the negative side however I use fear as a motivational tool. I remind myself that I have no other skills and that if I can’t get the audience to laugh I will have to kill myself. I also realise that attempted suicide is a punishable offence in India and that if I fail to kill myself I will go to jail and will not survive past the first shower as I’m quite clumsy and am sure to drop the soap.
Having lived and performed all over the world, can you tell us about one of your weirdest experience?
I was in a car with four other comedians in London at 3am when we got pulled over by the police. The driver was over the alcohol limit for driving. The law in the UK says you need to be tested at the car and then at the police station as well. All five of us got in the car and went to the station. On the way there we started to chat with the cops and to cut a long story short, we ended up performing for the police, in the police station from 4-6am. Meanwhile they got the driver something to eat and drink, let him go to the bathroom, and tested him again at 6.30am...by which time he was below the limit. 'Sorry to trouble you sir, the first machine must have been faulty. You are free to go!'
Kings and Queen of Comedy Asia 2is on from Oct 28-29, at the Esplanade Concert Hall.purchased from SISTIC Tickets are $38-78 and can be purchased from SISTIC.