Jab ‘Anti-National’ Met ‘Congressi’: Kamra Trains Comedian Tharoor

Did they bond over their admiration for Modi? Kamra answers the BURNING QUESTIONS, because the nation wants to know.

Updated
NEON
4 min read
Tharoor’s comedy mentor for the show ‘One Mic Stand’ was troll-proclaimed “anti-national” and secret-Modi-fanboy-who-doesn’t-admit-it, Kunal Kamra.
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Congress MP Shashi Tharoor debuting as a stand-up comedian is probably, like he mentions, the first instance of an Indian politician taking the stage to make people laugh – intentionally.

Tharoor’s comedy mentor for the show ‘One Mic Stand’ was troll-proclaimed “anti-national” and secret-Modi-fanboy-who-doesn’t-admit-it, Kunal Kamra.

So, did they bond over their mutual admiration for Prime Minister Modi? And how was the experience of mentoring a politician right before the elections – to do comedy? (Yes, the episode was shot while the campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls was still on!)

We caught up with Kunal Kamra to get answers to these BURNING QUESTIONS. Because the nation would surely want to know.

‘Not Like a Rajnigandha Commercial’

What was it like mentoring Shashi Tharoor for the episode of ‘One Mic Stand’?

Kunal Kamra: It was actually fun mentoring him. He was super cool about not rejecting jokes based on how it would make him look. I didn’t expect him to be this okay with everything. He came in very light, not like a big leader – which I get, because he’s not one currently (laughs).

With absolutely no offence to you – did you have to look up the dictionary to get some of his punchlines?

Kunal Kamra: He was very mindful of the words he uses, because he knows that other people gathered will not have a vocabulary like his (laughs). So, he didn’t use any words where I went like, “Oh, I don’t know what this is.” When you talk to him, he’s not talking like he’s in a Rajnigandha commercial. He uses basic English words, that you can respond to!

Kunal Kamra mentors Shashi Tharoor on ‘One Mic Stand’, a show hosted by Sapan Verma.
Kunal Kamra mentors Shashi Tharoor on ‘One Mic Stand’, a show hosted by Sapan Verma.
(Photo courtesy: Amazon Prime Video)

Considering that he shot his episode before the 2019 elections, did you remind him to get back to doing his actual job?

Kunal Kamra: Yeah, it was before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but I think he was pretty sure about his seat. He said, “Yes, the party will do better than last time. Much, much better.” But he was not like (Congress spokesperson) Sanjay Jha, who was saying, “It’s a clean sweep, we have won!” So, props to him for being more self-aware than that!

Were there certain jokes Tharoor wanted to make but didn’t due to ...ahem... censorship worries?

Kunal Kamra: None of the jokes were filtered out because of censorship in any way, but what happened was that we recorded a lot of jokes. On the day, he did stand-up for around 22 minutes. It was cut down on edit to fit within the episode duration, but as far as I know, none of the cuts were because of censorship. If you see the episode, you’ll see every type of joke in it.

Three Netas Kamra Would Like to See Doing Stand-up

If you could pick three Indian politicians you would really like to see doing a stand-up set, who would they be?

Kunal Kamra: I think, 100 percent, it has to be Lalu Prasad Yadav at number one. Raj Thackeray has a lot of humour in his speeches, I think he’s quite hilarious. He’s also somebody who should totally do stand-up comedy once, just for the experience. And lastly, the Prime Minister of the country – but his will be an unintentional comedy show. It’ll be funny to some people, but some others will take it completely seriously.

Kamra’s choice.
Kamra’s choice.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Did Kamra and Tharoor Bond Over Modi?

Coming back to Tharoor, did the two of you bond over your mutual admiration of the prime minister?

Kunal Kamra: Actually, no. We didn’t discuss the prime minister at all. We got a brief while to discuss politics candidly on one of the days, and we spoke about the state of the Congress. He discussed the youth leadership in the country, and he heard me out on the public perception and social media perception of the party. So, it wasn’t about the BJP at all!

<i>Neta wala </i>pose<i>.</i>
Neta wala pose.
(Photo: Screenshot/Amazon Prime Video)

And finally, how much would you rate Tharoor’s debut as a stand-up comedian on a scale of 1 to 10?

Kunal Kamra: I would rate him 10/10 for his performance, because he aced the entire performance and got every joke right.

(If you’re used to disagreeing with Kamra, and you think he’s being nice to Tharoor because you-know-what-they-say, then head over to Amazon Prime Video, watch the episode and decide for yourself. Troll karne se pehle, research toh karlo.)

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