Gagsters on the prowl
For once, Cary, Craig and Bosskey get serious and tell Sudhish Kamath what it takes to tickle people’s funny bone
If you suck at your job, there’s going to be a whole bunch of people laughing at you. Unless you are a stand-up comedian and your jokes suck. Pardon the joke, but this week, we decided to round-up some of the city’s most happening comic t
alents. Since the seriously funny are few, you find the same guys across platforms and in different mediums. They are on TV, they are on radio, they are on stage, they are in the movies, they write for newspapers and most often, they are the life of the party they are invited to. And even if they have to pose for photographs, they make sure you have reason to smile. We had a blast getting them together for this story and watching them improvise.
Cary Edwards and Craig Gallyot did a few things we cannot talk about. It would suffice to say that they wanted to promote their stand-up comedy series ‘Cary on Craig’ visually and literally. Bosskey and Sethu showed their backs to the camera and faced the wall, probably to water the plants, but not before Sethu decided to help Bosskey comb his bald pate.
Cary and Craig are sick and tired of people confusing their names. “In fact, we started doing stand-up comedy with our names on the backdrop in bold letters so that people learn to spell our names,” says Craig. “I’ve heard all possible spellings for my name. There was someone who, with all seriousness, called me Plague. And at SS, they had half a mind to promote my name as ‘Craig, the Plague’ like ‘Cyrus, the Virus’.”
“When people get my name wrong, I don’t correct them,” says Cary. “I just keep calling them with a random name repeatedly till the point they feel obliged to tell me that I got their name wrong. A lot of people think I am Craig, even those who have never met him.” “Which is why I don’t like the police jokes he makes on stage,” says Craig. “We live down the same road and I don’t want to be mistaken for Cary when the cops come looking,” he adds.
Cary has a simple tip to tell them apart. “The good looking one is Cary. The fat one is Craig.”
One thing you can be sure when you go for their show is that they don’t repeat their set of jokes too much.”
“We don’t want to do the same show again because you could give us photocopies of cheques. So, right at the beginning we said ‘Let’s do new material every time’,” says Cary.
“Especially because it’s the same people who keep coming back to see us,” quips Craig. “The upside is that you will rarely hear the same joke twice. The downside is that because we don’t hold on to our good jokes and go with new ones, on some nights, people don’t think we are that funny. But thankfully, Craig and I have completely different styles of comedy. So, there’s not been a night when people haven’t liked one of us,” explains Cary.
“We do observational comedy,” chips in Craig. “I poke fun at things such as auto men, feminism and fat people.”
“I do the slightly more witty kind of comedy,” says Cary. “I heard somewhere that stand-up comedy is like a rubber sword. You can make your point and not draw blood. That’s the kind of comedy I try to do. There are a lot of things that are wrong about the country, I’m just pointing it out, and I do it in a way that makes people laugh.”
Craig believes that people can see him for who he is when he does stand-up comedy. “Everywhere else, I have to compromise. We don’t control the kind of music we play on TV or radio, but here it is entirely us,” he says.
So, people expect them to come up with jokes and entertain them even off stage. “I have issues with that. Let’s say you are a cardiac surgeon. You don’t bump into me and say: Cool, fix my heart. You don’t walk into a party and ask an accountant to do your taxes. There’s a time for everything. There’s an off-switch,” says Cary.
“When I’m doing stand-up there, I am in that zone. But that’s not all of me. Like, my big kick in life is studying religion,” he adds. And, Craig loves mythology. And for once, they aren’t joking.
Bosskey used to be a leg-spinner called Bhasker, who played at the national level. “I took eight wickets on debut for Madras University… Even when I was playing cricket, I was joking. Srikanth was my captain, he used to laugh at my jokes,” recalls Bosskey, the host of ‘Hari Giri assembly’.
Luckily for him, his leg spin action disappeared mysteriously and he came up with his own joke book after a friend told him he should put down all the jokes he cracks every day into a book. He got noticed by cartoonist Madhan and was asked to write for Ananda Vikatan. Since 1992, he’s written 17,000 jokes. And, Muraliraaman of Jaya TV convinced him to translate his ‘Hari Giri Corner’ column from Ananda
Vikatan for TV.
Along with Chitti Babu, Bosskey hosted 750 shows, almost on every single weekday since July 2000.
“We wound up in August 2003 because we ran out guests,” says Bosskey. Chitti Babu went on to join Sun TV and Bosskey spent time writing stage plays and had a stint with Vijay TV as a stand-up comedian doing a show called ‘Jujubee TV’.
All set to do a significant role in ‘Poi Solla Porom,’ the remake of ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’, Bosskey says: “When that film releases on August 29, a weekday, and if I also act in a play that day, I can find me in the paper (he has a daily column), on radio (he has a show six times a week), on TV (‘Hari Giri’ airs five times a week), and in a movie too.”
What do you need most to be a comedian?
“You need the ability to have a hearty laugh and to give an immediate repartee when made fun of,” he says.
And, it is precisely this that makes him tick. He thinks on his feet and says something funny every time he shoots for his shows, almost live and in real-time.
“I am self-critical. I am quite flexible. In fact, I often teach my partner to make fun of me.”
He anchors ‘Hari Giri assembly’ now with a relatively new Sethu, a mimicry artiste from ‘Kalakapovathu yaaru’.
But, he still travels by bike so that he can take criticism and feedback from auto-drivers and bus-drivers. “Also, in this traffic with my commitments, if I decide to go by car, I will never reach anywhere on time,” he says.
Is the funny person the real him?
“Yes, whether I am sitting on the steps of Narada Gana Sabha and talking with my friends or talking on TV, I am the same person. Only in the movie, will you see me in a new dimension. That will be a performance,” he says, quite thrilled about reprising Vinay Pathak’s role from the original.
Photos: K. Pichumani
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