Yannis Pappas, an American stand up comedian from Brooklyn USA, says that “Jokes come from three places; an opinion about something, an observation of something, or an unreconciled pain from something.”
Mangalorean Maria Baptist's Jirgi Mirsang (a local variety of hot and pungent chilies) a stand-up comedy show on YouTube is a combination of all three - opinions, and an observation of her own life from a third party perspective colored by the unreconciled pain.
She says "In our day to day life we come across many interesting incidents; we come across many people; we listen to conversations between people on different topics. At home too, there are many conversations and incidents which go by us unnoticed; until we chew on them - its then, in hindsight which is something we don't have when we look ahead, that we find that there are funny gems within. Why should I enjoy all the fun myself I thought! and decided to pluck these tidbits of fun in our daily lives, put them together and share them on a platform where everyone can watch and enjoy - YouTube".
A look at Maria's latest attempt at stand-up comedy - 'purupre' (grumbling) for those who understand Konkani is a study in how parents grumble at their children's teenage behavior when it is in complete contrast to their expectations of how they should behave. And while a parent grumbling away may be in part frustration combined with love, for the rebel inherent in a teenager it can be a source of irritation.... and stand up comedy!!!!
An interesting statistic - there are only two women in the list of top 15 Indian stand-up comedians Aditi Mittal and Sumukhi Suresh. The rest include the relatable Abhishek Upamanyu, Zakir Khan, Biswa Kalyan Rath, Rahul Subramanian, the Cutie- Kanan Gill, Amit Tandon, Anubhav Singh Bassi, Kenny Sebastian, Vir Das, Kunal Kamra of the Arnab fame, Vipul Goel, Abish Mathew, and Karunesh Talwar.
And soon Maria will enter the list as the third woman. That's how good she is.
Maria is a budding stand up comedian in Konkani using YouTube to propagate her art like most of the stand-up comedians did as they started out. Today they are all back to square one! - on YouTube because of the negatives involved in being positive. Maria is just starting out and one day when Covid19 permits she will perform on stage to a live audience. But today is two videos old and has developed a big fan following among Konkani speakers...
In the past, Konkani comedy was relegated to cameos between dramas, and the trio of Dol, Fel, Chal as they were known, was the best there was; Konkani stand-up comedy standing up for itself was hardly known. Things are going to change, and Maria will lead the change, given the evidence on YouTube so far.
Maria Anjali Baptist - that's her full name - is currently pursuing her 2nd year PUC at St.Aloysius Pre-University College. The child with the funny bone was born to Arun and Jenifer Baptist, both teachers by profession and in Maria's words, she enjoys the company of "my very talented younger brother Chris Anjen Baptist".
Maria is serious about a lot of things though! "I am an enthusiastic Badminton player and athlete. Drawing is my passion. I also have a keen interest in short plays and elocution." The lockdown provided her a respite from routine - she would get up late to the dismay of her parents and they would grumble away in a parent's inimitable style, that, come to think of it, is actually common parenting style - and a chance to focus on her in house passions. "During the lockdown, I used my time doing wall painting. I got inspired by other videos on YouTube and thought of showcasing my talent on the YouTube platform. I used to take the time-lapse of my wall arts and upload it on youtube. This was how initially I started my YouTube channel. My family members, relatives, friends supported and appreciated my work. This motivated me a lot." From there it was but a hop, step, and jump into the world of the funnily spoken word!
But why Konkani, which would restrict her audience reach as the pool of Konkani speakers is small in comparison to English and other Indian languages? Well, for one it's her love for her mother tongue, and Konkani she says, has its own inherent charm; besides it lends itself to comedy very well! "Konkani is my mother tongue. I am troubled by the fact that many of those whose mother tongue is Konkani hesitate to speak in Konkani but I hope by watching my videos they may get inspiration to enjoy the richness of Konkani language. So this is a small contribution towards my mother tongue and I also find Konkani a very rich and resourceful language. I myself want to learn to speak Konkani in an effective way, and this is my way of improving. At present, I would like to gain mastery and improve my Konkani. I may think about venturing into another language later on".
While having fun and making others laugh with her is one of her passions, she does not want her other developing skills to fall by the wayside. "As a badminton player, I would like to achieve greater heights and also improve my skills in drawing and stand-up. I would like to complete my studies with good grades too," she says. To her viewers Maria says "Life is a blessing, enjoy it. When opportunities knock at the door, grab them and make use of them".
A stand-up comedian's success often follows failure. “There’s no other profession where you learn your craft by failing in public,” Pappas says. “No rehearsal, no training. It’s just going out there and do it. And you know immediately if you’re doing it wrong because there’s a bunch of people telling you so right to your face in real-time.”
A lot of hard work also goes into helping people tickle their funny bone. “The premise is the stone,” says Minhaj, an Indian-American Muslim, who mines much of his comedy from being a child of immigrants raised on American pop culture. “You start chipping away, shaping thoughts, removing words, choosing better words. You see the joke in the stone, and it’s your job as a comic to reveal it." It's much like sculpting! A sample? "I said, hey dude, get off the plane! And he goes, whoa whoa, just because a few Samsungs blow up doesn’t mean all of them will blow up. And I’m like, I’m not saying every Samsung blows up. I’m just saying every time a cell phone blows up, it happens to be a Samsung!"
But enough about Minhaj; here's a gem from Maria. Her latest video Purpure informs us that her mother wakes her up at seven in the morning by telling its nine and it's already very late! and it goes on from there in the same vein! the end is even better... but let me not play spoiler. Watch the video above!
Maria's fan base is growing and she is mindful of it. "Thank you for supporting me and appreciating my work. I always welcome your sincere suggestions which will help me fly higher and higher", she says. That she is also open to feedback which may or may not include sharp criticism, is indeed the hallmark of a good comedian. She might find something funny in that too. Who knows?.
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