2014 Gig Eighteen: New Delhi

Well I'll be honest and say the final of Raw Comedy here in India was a nightmare because there were so many acts we wanted to send to Australia. It was such a broad range of styles and humour that once the show was over we spent so long debating on who should go through people were starting to wonder if we'd given up and actually snuck off home.  I was feeling like that at one point.  It was so difficult to know who stood out because everyone was so good.  A sample of the sentences that were flying back and forth:


"If we put this guy through he could win the whole final in Melbourne."

"Yet this guy has a unique voice and stood out from the rest."

"I liked how she was the only person who was really political."

"I loved that a lot of his jokes were in Hindi and that would be great to show off."


Vamsi was one of my particular favourites on the night.


The judges were made up of Kate McLennan , super tour manager Michelle Wild and last year's Indian Raw Comedy winner Neeti Palta.  The level of the final was so high and pretty much everybody killed.  The audience was well behind all the acts and everyone had prepared extremely well.  Kate and I were having such a great time we didn't really want the show to end.  We also didn't want to have the show end because we then had to pick one winner.  One!  I'm telling you Meryl Streep in "Sophie's Choice" had it easy. (Ok, slight exaggeration but you get the gist.)


Last night my set list consisted of the following:


Local Observations

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversations

Little Boy Joke

Gym Story

Too Stoned And I Ate Kevin

Hairy Baby

Movies Out of Context

Breaking Up Through History


I performed a little more material last night as we had two halves.  The audience was so fired up it was impossible to not want to squeeze a little extra material into the show.  It isn't uncommon for comedians to have sticky feet when they're having fun and I was definitely a little guilty of that last night.  I've loved performing with Kate at the gigs and I hope we can find some time to do some more work together.  Maybe we'll do some stuff at The Shelf for the Melbourne Comedy Festival?  Go and check out her latest blog where she has a crack at me for getting up and exercising every morning.  Pretty funny stuff.


Abish Mathew was a particular highlight.  Keep an eye out for this guy!


Then it was time for us to leave and make the final decision.  Nobody was arguing his or her point, it was quite clearly a situation where we felt overwhelmed.  At one point I decided to call the big cheese of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Susan Provan to see if we could bring over at least four acts.  It was 5am in Melbourne when I made this suggestion.  Suffice to say I don't want the big boss upset at me ringing at an ungodly hour to ask if we can do something we quite clearly wouldn't be able to do so it was time to slip into the big boy pants and help make a decision.


One of my favourite acts was Akshay Shinde being interviewed by Australian journalist Stephanie March before the show.


Neeti Palta was last year's winner and not only helped judge but also performed a spot at the show.


In the end we finally made a decision and the winner was Rohan Desai.  Rohan was so delightful onstage, very funny and well performed.  We are very excited to have him representing India at the Raw Comedy final in Melbourne and we think if you're a fan of minimalist comedians like Hannah Gadsby, Rob Hunter and Luelin from "Lessons With Luis" then this guy is going to be right up your alley.  Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze him onto The Shelf as well.

This has been a wonderful experience.  From the people we were working with here in Raghav Mandava and Nitiya Iyer to the crew that I was working with including Kate, Michelle and Stu Symes it has been a total blast.  I've loved the acts that we've worked with at the workshops.  I've loved the gigs.  It has been a real reminder just how joyous stand up comedy can be.  It is good to remember this considering I head straight into the maelstrom of the Adelaide Fringe surrounded by jaded comics and desperate acts.  Heck I'll probably be both of those at some point.  Yet for ten glorious days here in India it was just what it always should be:  fun.  Thanks to Susan, Bridget Bantick and the team at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for throwing this opportunity my way.  To Teamworks and the Australian Indian Council thanks also for helping put this together.

Fingers crossed I'll be able to see all these acts again some time soon and we can work together again.


Rohan Desai doesn't break character even when surrounded by two Aussies that love him a little too much.


Justin Hamilton

24th of February, 2014

New Delhi