‘Pandemic prompted comedians to try new things’: Amit Tandon on getting into commentary and more

Amit Tandon on his stand-up special, ‘Masala Sandwich’, getting fitness advice from Irfan Pathan and more

Amit Tandon was getting ready to return to the stage in February after a COVID-19-induced break, assuming the worst was behind him. But he was proven wrong. The second wave of the pandemic was much worse than the first. Hearing news of deaths and distress made the already existing physical distancing worse. That is why Amit made it a point to talk about the pandemic as he returned to in-person stand-up acts recently. It was not easy to discuss a sombre topic in a stand-up act. But Amit felt it was the right thing to do.

“People were just locked inside their rooms. There was nobody to talk to. So, when you give them a chance to talk about something, even if it is a tragedy, it takes the weight away from their heart, makes them feel a little lighter,” he explains.

Amit is touring several cities across India for ‘Masala Sandwich’, his stand-up special, wherein he jokes about the problems a man faces in his 40s — also known as a midlife crisis. Most of the English (and Hinglish) comedians cater to millennials and Gen-Z. Whereas Amit, as he jokingly admits, entertains their parents. It has, in a way, become his identity. He even got recently ribbed by a young comedian — she called him a ‘boomer’ — in a show where he was the judge.

He does not mind the labelling. But he says he does not tiresomely repeat the topics. “Even within midlife crisis, the challenges I’m talking about keep changing. If I’ve talked about relationships in one set, I will discuss health in another. But the way I look at things won’t change. I am a 45-year-old. So, I can’t write as a 25-year-old person,” he says.

Amit is also involved in diverse projects to prove he is not a one-trick pony. He co-judges Comedy Base Camp, a comedy show on MTV, with Cyrus Broacha. He hosts a Spotify original podcast, Andar Ki Baat. He was among the ‘Hotstar Dosts’ commentary panel in the Indian Premier League, where he worked with former cricketers. ” I used to think I was fit. But one day, Irfan Pathan came and told me, ‘Sir, you need to run a lot.’ So, yeah, that was a depressing experience,” he says in wry wit.

Amit is not the only stand-up comedian who has sought to diversify his skills of late. Many of them make reaction videos, come on Television, collaborate with OTT platforms like Netflix, and of course, make Instagram reels. Amit feels the pandemic was an important factor. “Without live shows, there was more time to focus on these projects. Plus, there was also a concern that if the stand-up comedy income is going to be absent for the next few months, I need to have another revenue stream.”

For ‘Masala Sandwich’, Amit has toured many Indian cities. Does it get monotonous to repeat the same jokes everywhere? No, says Amit. “There’s always some difference between the crowds. For example, in Bangalore, their global exposure is much higher than a tier-2 city. You get people who watch theatre and live shows. But if I go to a place like Guwahati, the crowd there, I think, has a more business background. It’s probably their first or second live show. So, with some jokes, you will have to explain the context a bit more. And, I change the language a little bit. If a joke is completely in English, I add some Hindi. The jokes don’t change, how I tell them does.”

Amit is performing in Bengaluru on November 12 and 13. For more details, visit bookmyshow.com

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