If I ever choose to become a comedian, it’s probably only because I wish to participate in Kaneez Surka’s “The General Fun Gameshow”someday! I mean, it’s probably the only platform where a contestant can goof up to their heart’s content (an involuntary action in me someone please help) and actually be appreciated for it.
I caught up with Kaneez – a prominent face among the new crop of women comedians, and definitely the most watched improv performer on YouTube right now – about her art (which basically means I did my usual nosing around other people’s business)
Here is an extract from a lively conversation during which I forgot to ask her a particular question but she provided an answer anyway. See? I can goof up. Now I’m expecting a call from her team anytime for an appearance on her show.
1. Do you ever run out of ideas or words when you do improv?
“When I get on stage for my act, I know what to say to get it started, but later I don’t generally give my lines too much thought. That’s the fun of improv. At times when I find at a loss of words, I just say whatever comes to my lips and then try to justify it. That’s the process I follow.”
2. Is that your own style or are improv performers instructed to do this?
“It is something I discovered I do frequently myself; it was not taught.”
3. Is there any rule improv artists follow or is it actually as random as it appears?
“There are guidelines that one is asked to follow and learn and develop and that’s what gives you some structure in the world of improv. One of the main rules is that you have to YES. In improv, you have to be in agreement because once you say NO, then you have to start again. Then we have to give new information. So, instead of starting again, just keep saying yes and keep moving onto the existing information.”
4. Tell us more about The General Fun Game Show
“Basically it’s kind of stemmed from improv and it has a lot of improvisation in it, but the format is structured because it is a game show. I do it live, I shoot it and then it is uploaded on my YouTube channel.That’s kind of what I’m focusing on over the last 8 months.”
5. You have commented on the comedy scene in Mumbai and Bangalore. What about other places? Like, I’m from Calcutta and I’m afraid to ask you this but, what do you think of our city?
“I love your city. I did a workshop there, actually. Two years ago. I did it with the Kolkata Comedians and I think thy are really smart comedians who have come out of Kolkata. Like Sourav Ghosh and Anirban. I like the comedy that comes out of Kolkata and I think its very smart, to be honest.”
6. What makes Kaneez Surka crack up? What makes you laugh?
“Oh my God! Everything makes me laugh. I’m terrible, I laugh at my own jokes. When people have improv moments, even in their scripted sketches or stand up sets or even in talkshows improv shows, when I see them in this honest moment coming up with something on the spot , I lose my shit. I can tell it when someone thought of it right in that second, and that cracks me up, i will laugh like a hyena.”
7. When I google “Kaneez Surka”, I get prompts like “Kaneez Surka hot”. How do you shift this focus from your physicality to your work?
“I try not to get restricted by such attention. If you see, many of my snapchat is without makeup. Some people are surprised and appreciate that, while others don’t. It’s times like these when I wish people would listen to what I have to say instead of just looking at my face.
This probably happens because the audience is accustomed to female celebrities who have become famous simply because of their glamorous appearance, and people in general are conditioned to expect girls to always look pretty. Throughout my childhood my mom used to tell me keep myself presentable, while this instruction was not given to my brothers. The new wave of female entertainers who have generated a fan following don’t dwell on their appearance much. If you look at my, Malika’s, Sumukhi’s or Radhika’s Snapchat, we put up a lot of material without make up; we don’t prep our physicality before we perform.
Finally, I really would love it if Google provided options like “Kaneez Surka Game Show” or “Kaneez Surka Funniest Moments” instead of Kaneez Surka Hot!”
8. How has the response been to your workshops?
“The response has been great and it has been a very enjoyable experience for me and hopefully the people who participated as well! I did put conducting workshops for improv artists on hold for a while to build my personal brand, but I plan to start again shortly. Its something very sacred to me and I want to ensure I can give it my undivided attention and effort.”
9. Which social media application are you addicted to?
“Instagram. I like the way one can share moments and pictures in a sort of classy way.”
10. Clitoris or Instagram*, which are you more like?
(Kaneez plays the of Clitika, or, clitoris in this video)
*C’mon, these are roles she enacted in comedy sketches.
-by Zaiceka Ahmed