Close Encounter Of The Funny Kind : Karthik Kumar

KK has certainly got his A-game on, eliciting laughter like it’s nobody’s business.

While today his shows may sell out like hot cakes, Karthik Kumar admits there was once a time when he didn’t find himself funny. Life on stage has, however, come full circle for this comedian. KK has certainly got his A-game on, eliciting laughter like it’s nobody’s business. Talking about his evolution as an artist, Karthik tells RITZ that “cutting through the cobweb BS” has made him more ‘bearable’ as a comic.

If there is one thing that Karthik is unapologetic about, it is his ability to call out things for what they are. Today, stand-up comedy has made way for multiple points of views and voices, and Karthik looks at taking full advantage of that. “The stage for me is a place of cathartic release. Comedy allows me to touch upon subjects that are considered taboo, issues that make my blood boil,” he explains. Sounds like awfully grim content for stand-up, no?

“The ability to see what is funny lies in understanding the process of anger and amazement,” he says. Consider his latest show ‘Second Decoction’, “The show is about being part of the middle-class. The middle-class for me is a mind-set, a mind-set that allows you to be content being second best.” Karthik adds that the idea for the show came during the Chennai floods. “As tragic as the situation was, it was comical at the same time. People refused to leave their homes for fear of losing their material possessions!” Possessions over your life shouldn’t be a hard call to make, but KK says it is.


Though the man has come a long way since the beginning of comic days, Karthik still peppers his shows with the ever-loved Tam Brahm jokes. While the man confesses that it is the easiest form of humour, he justifies his wise cracks saying, “I don’t crack jokes because I have to, it’s because I love them. Tam Brahms are often the butt of my jokes, the only explanation being that I have suffered being one.”

Despite being at the top of his game currently, Karthik does find himself ‘fire fighting’ with hecklers during shows. “Hecklers are usual during pub performances. As a performer, it is my duty to identify potential trouble makers and put them in their place before things get out of hand.”

Narrating one such experience, KK recalls a time when he called the heckler on to the stage. “It was not the best thing to do, but luckily it worked. We asked the audience to vote for whom they wanted on stage, after which he did leave, but he was allowed his moment of glory.”

What Karthik does may be considered stand-up comedy, but improvisation is something that the man loves. “Improv allows you a detour from your normal path and that is what makes the journey memorable. My most memorable detour was during this show, where I started out cracking jokes about the Kamasutra and I was talking to a couple. From there we went on to the wife talking about marital issues, we progressed on to talking about MBAs and the show took its own course. At the end of the night, I realised that I had not cracked the joke that I started out with.”


Talking about controversies that he has run into, Karthik is upfront about one thing, “There is no Holy Cow in the auditorium.” The comic chooses to troll everything and everyone, from culture to sanskriti, from politicians to housewives, everyone is on the same pedestal. “I think Article 377 ought to be scrapped, India is a really open country! Right from when we are little kids our mothers told us ‘Don’t mingle with girls.’ That’s dichotomy right there. The mother, who is a woman, is actually saying don’t interact with my own kind. It’s like Rahul Gandhi finally confessing – thanks for not choosing our hand. Use your own!”

Karthik is currently performing ‘Second Decoction’ and is touring USA during the month. 

 Quick Five with Karthik Kumar

  1. Your most treasured possession is… my hard drive of all my writing
  2. You are funniest when… I am on a high and can make fun of anything under the sun
  3. Pre-show ritual… calming myself down
  4. Happiness is… just being you
  5. Motto for life… be true to yourself and call out the BS.