A couple of years ago, Gursimran Khamba was just another guy, with opinions and a sense of humour but nowhere to express himself. That is when he started blogging. Slowly, his candid posts and tongue-in-cheek humour began to draw more followers in. One of his readers suggested Khamba take his ready humour live, with a performance at an open-mic night. Khamba took it one step further when he co-founded India's first comedy podcast, the wildly popular All India Bakchod in January this year.
“It was pretty quick and simple. I wasn't doing much with my life then and it seemed like a good idea,” says Khamba, ahead of his performance at High Spirits on Wednesday. His career as a comedian has taken him to shows all over the country and even in Pakistan and at The Comedy Store in London. Khamba has over 29,000 followers on his Twitter account, @gkhamba and All India Bakchod, founded along with fellow comedian, Tanmay Bhat, is now the most heard comedy podcast in India. “We get around 15,000 listeners for every post on average. That is just the number of people streaming and then there are those who download,” he says.
The podcast, with comments and wisecracks about everyday topics and current issues, also features interviews of other established comedians and performers for those who have an academic interest and would like to know more about the evolution of comedy or about a comedian's life. This balance has appealed to listeners across age and geographical barriers. “We don't even know who these listeners are but there are times when they bump into us or we get emails from them. We get emails from places like Ukraine and another time there was a 60-year-old aunty who told us she loved our show. It's bizarre,” says Khamba.
While the podcast often features several unconventional, and sometimes controversial topics and opinions, the duo have met with very little opposition. “There hasn't been a lot of hate, surprisingly. The only hate we get is from people who ask why our shows are not longer or shorter or why they weren't as funny as the last post,” he says. This might be because of their farsighted decision to name the podcast All India Bakchod. “The name works as a filter; if you don't like the name, chances are you won't like the show either. Originally, we wanted something retro; this is a play on All India Radio, the first thing we think of when we hear the word radio,” Khamba explains.
While Khamba and Bhat were the first to come up with a comedy podcast, new podcasts such as Desi Bromance and Kaan Masti are also active now. “A lot of people have begun to podcast after we started All India Bakchod. It's great because they're all taking this in new directions. But, the scene is still nowhere near what it is in the US. It's still very niche here,” he says.
(Gursimran Khamba will perform at High Spirits on November 21 from 8.30 pm onwards)