The only mention of his name brings a smile to our face. Jonny Lever is back in action on television as the judge, along with Satish Shah and Archana Puran Singh, in 'Comedy Circus'. We had a hearty chat with this man who was in his usual 'comic' self. Here is the excerpt.
You are back in 'Comedy Circus' after 'Jonny Ala Re'...
Yes, I had a bad experience in 'Jonny Ala Re'. Things were not going as I had been told they would be. After lot of difficulty, I had managed to quit the show. Thus, when I got the offer for 'Comedy Circus', I was reluctant. But then when I heard that this is a competition which deals with a team which comprises of a stand-up comedian and actors. It sounded interesting to me so I decided on accepting the role of a judge.
[an error occurred while processing this directive] Have you been offered any other show in between?
Yes, I was offered the chair of the judge at 'Laughter Challenge', but I did not accept it. At that time I did not want to take the tension of judging participants. So I asked them to call me as a guest. After I declined, Sidhu and Shekhar Suman joined in.
You are a stand-up comedian yourself, how will it be judging others?
See it is very difficult to judge such talents. I still do not think I'm capable of judging other people's talent. But I will make sure that I judge for the betterment for the talent and the actors. I will be genuine in my approach and will point out the good and the bad points of the competitors. I will also not laugh unnecessarily because people are intelligent enough and the next time you people will ask me as to why I over reacted.
How difficult or easy is comedy?
Comedy is not easy at all. It is not easy at make people laugh as everyone sitting and watching you have a different level of intelligence and it is not necessary, especially for a stand-up comedian, to win everyone's heart out there. In the first few minutes he has to judge the audience and then find out as to what kind of jokes are they responding to. He then has to take the performance in that direction.
So how difficult is it to perform in a team?
It is all the more difficult. See, here what is happening is the stand-up comedians are used to performing alone and sometimes impromptu, but here they are to perform with actor are more used to scripted stuff. In actuality, there has to be a good chemistry between the two, they should gel with each other so well that the audience gets hooked to them. Their comic level, their timing has to be in perfect sync to each other.
What is important to have good comic sense?
See, comedians are born, one cannot learn comedy. But for a comedian, it is necessary that he or she observes things around him or her. This gives a lot of ideas. I no longer travel in train but I keep asking people as to what is happening in the trains there day, similarly I keep my eyes and ears open. Also the comedian should respect the audience and try to get the spirit of the performance. If you are mimicking someone try to get into his skin rather than just copying him. It takes the performance to a completely different level.
What are the changes that you notice in the comic styles in yester years and today?
Earlier, in films, comedians used to have a parallel track, were given songs and the story also revolved around them. Those were the times of Mehmood saab. Then slowly their roles got diminished and at present it is like fast food, there is one liner today. People want quick comedy; they do not want it long drawn. Comedians are used as advertisements in films today to give a relief to the story. But I feel that time is going to change again. Actually, there are not good writer for comedy. I write most of my scripts and even Mehmoob saab had his own writer.
Have you thought of writing scripts?
No, it is not my cup of tea. I'm a performer and can write down my ideas, but writing a script takes a lot of thinking and effort.
Do you think that comedians are getting what they deserve?
I feel hard work pays off. There was a time when I could not think this big. But hard work pays off. Today I get what I deserve. I am being given some liberty with my work at last.