Ever wondered what would happen if a Sindhi aka Atul Khatri got hold of a calculator?
Quite simple, really. His fingers would fly over the buttons as he crunched the numbers; then he would quit his job (CEO of an IT company in Mumbai) to become a standup comic. What’s more, he will make this life-affirming decision at 45.
Midlife crisis or pure madness? who knows, but Atul Khatri, India’s famous comic, appears to be at peace having swapped the 9-to-5 rat race for the mic. And if his YouTube subscribers, Twitter, and Facebook followers are any indications, his calculated move has paid off.
“I am a Sindhi, so I had to calculate the risk of everything,” he deadpanned when asked about the switch in careers. “I realized I was making more money doing six months of standup than what I was earning at my job. The comedy scene is growing in India and I realized it would be foolish of me not to ride the wave.”
Today, Atul’s among the top 20 comics in India. And guess what? He’s coming to Toronto as part of his first-ever North American tour.
“Standup comedy is very personal and every comic has a unique voice,” Atul told Toronto Desi Diaries. “Making people cry is very easy, but making them laugh is difficult.”
After a couple of sold-out shows in the U.S., the “Horny Sindhi” as he refers to himself is coming to Canada.
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“I am Sindhi, married to a Punjabi, two of the hairiest communities in India,” he says in a hilarious sketch about meeting his wife. “It was a love marriage, we both had a common love for hair. We met a medical store while buying Gilette…”
And so it goes for the next hour with Atul poking fun at himself, his family and life as a middle-aged man.
In an exclusive chat with the Toronto Desi Diaries Atul gamely answered questions his upcoming visit to Canada and this and that.
Atul’s wife Shaguna, a professional hairstylist, traveled with him to lend him to lend him moral support during the U.S. leg of the tour.
He need not have worried. His packed shows in the U.S. brought the roof down.
Atul’s resolve to grab life (comedy) by its throat happened on Dec. 31, 2012, at the stroke of midnight.
“Everyone has this one friend that’s funny, so, growing up, I was that guy but I never imagined I would get into comedy,” Atul explains. “I think it was a mid-life crisis. That year (2012) my new year resolution was that I wanted to do something different with my life. I was 45-years-old. I signed up for an open mic, wrote a set, asked my wife to come along with me (in case I bombed terribly). But it went well and the audience voted me the winner of “CEO’s Got Talent,” I really enjoyed being on the stage and making people laugh. Within nine months I realized there was even money in it.”
In 2016, Atul quit his IT job to pursue comedy, but he tested the waters first. He was one of the early adopters of Facebook. His observations, wry sense of humour and apt take on the political happenings in India tickled people’s funny bone. Emboldened, he faced a live audience.
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Atul’s routines are peppered with swear words and he’s unapologetic about the language.
“That’s the way I talk to my friends and I am who I am,” he says. “Yes, those words come out whenever they choose to, it’s not planned or rehearsed or written in the script. I think people laugh at the content, not the swear words.”
Taking offense to everything has become a national pastime in India. Anyone with a smartphone has an opinion, Atul observed.
The censorship has made Atul’s writing smarter and exciting because he’s able to deliver the message without stepping on the toes of the indignant netas (politicians and religious zealots).
If you are ready to be shocked, awed and entertained, you might want to buy those tickets, pronto.