Gift of puns: on comedian Arun Sriram

All set for his second show on July 12, Arun Sriram says he is most comfortable with Tamil humour

At a time when a growing number of stand-up artistes are quitting their day jobs to explore comedy as a lucrative career option, 38-year-old chartered accountant Arun Sriram is quite clear about the distinction between profession and passion.

“If I do make it my career, it could pose financial constraints which will affect my creativity — so it’s not something I want to do professionally. I believe that profession pays and passion stays,” says the Bengaluru-based artiste, who is scheduled to perform a one-hour show at Backyard today. “While the best thing about stand-up is the high that comes from having the audience applaud so long at a joke that you need to take a pause before moving on to the next one, the worst thing is that it takes time for people to take me seriously. If I say anything that shocks them, they usually think it’s a joke.”

Comedy at the office

Stand-up comedy happened quite casually for this Unilever employee, who is known at his workplace for his banter and quirky writing that was staged as skits during office events. “I thought let’s take the funny one-to-one conversations and give it a wholesale spin by making it one-to-many and see how that goes,” he explains.

Two years later, he is already premièring his second solo special in Chennai, which is quite the feat for a part-time performer, given the amount of creative challenges most comedians face in putting together their first big set. “I usually write down anything that I find has potential to be funny, and later see how I can weave it into sets of five to seven minutes. I work on the segues much after, so that the set has an ‘easy on the ears’ kind of flow. My best ideas come to me when I take my dog for a walk every day.”

Keeping it family-friendly

Sriram is quick to clarify that he doesn’t feel like every line in his set has to be funny. “I don’t put that sort of pressure on myself. Some jokes are just meant to make you smile or smirk, rather than laugh out loud,” he explains.

The comedian also ensures that his jokes are non-controversial, referring to his style as the “sunshine brand of humour”, meaning that it “offends no one but myself”. While his first solo in 2018, Unmute! was based on experiential humour, his upcoming show, Saar, is largely observational, where he talks about corporate life, travelling Indians, and the preference for Eastern philosophies. Hailing from Chennai, he is excited about performing in the city because, “I understand the culture and can blend in more Tamil in my set. Also, we appreciate puns a little more as a style of humour,” he adds.

Saar will première on July 12 at Backyard, Adyar at 6 pm. Tickets at ₹299 on eventshigh.com

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