Top comedians from India who made it big despite of their non-related backgrounds
Indian stand-up comedians have been dominating the entertainment sector for quite some time now. Not only are they loved for their hilarious wits but also for having a very strong personality which comes with a great story behind their sensational success. Needless to say that every success story starts with a story of struggle and a huge amount of hard work.
The stand-up comedians are proof that when it comes to showcasing your talents, telling a story, and making a statement, you can do all that while simply making people laugh and creating an optimistic environment. While standing on a stage with a mic in their hand in front of a crowd, they make it look so effortless when in reality there are hours of work that goes behind the scenes. Their past experiences are all manifestations of what they write and carry with them on the stage in front of so many people.
It is evident that their honesty, intelligence, simplicity, struggles, and truth are the secret to their comedy. Adding to their expertise in making people laugh, they also come with an inspiring and interesting history. Here is the list of the most prominent comedians with an interesting backgrounds.
Atul Khatri is a veteran on the Indian comedy circuit. He started his comedy career at the age of 43, whilst still being engaged in his family business. He was the only Indian to perform at the Hong Kong International Comedy Festival in 2014. Once rated among the top Indian comedians by CNN-IBN, Khatri is also the winner of the CEO’s Got Talent Season 1. He is also a favorite among the corporate audience and people from high up the ladder, he was one of the three finalists at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival held in 2012. Also acclaimed for his hilarious YouTube videos, Atul Khatri’s vast experience in the field of business works as a huge influence on people who want to try something new in life. He’s one of the most successful comedians in India who brings a fresh perspective through the eyes of a 40+ year-old.
Anubhav Singh Bassi is an Indian comic who started his career as a stand-up comedian after an open mic in 2017. Before entering the comedy setup, Bassi has been an entrepreneur, Lawyer, and UPSC aspirant. The all-rounder comedian has also delivered a TEDx talk about his struggles. He is a storyteller, who specializes in anecdotal comedy, most of his jokes are based on his past experiences in his school and college life. In 2021, he was awarded the ‘Youth Icon of the Year’ by Golden Glory Awards. He is one of the best-selling comedians in India and a YouTube sensation with a huge fan following.
Dr. Jagdish Chaturvedi is a doctor, an ENT surgeon, an actor, an innovator and an Indian stand-up comedian made popular by his YouTube channel. His comedy revolves around relationships, traffic, human behaviour, entrepreneurship, schooling, friendship, college life, and of course doctor-patient interactions and medical life. All his accomplishments and experiences in his past life help him be relatable to audiences from all age groups and backgrounds. Dr. Jagdish Chaturvedi is a great choice for corporate comedy shows because of his clean comedy content. His observational comedy is quite fresh and also he brings a great deal of customization for corporates when it comes to the corporate sector, age group, and city.
Rupali is an engineer-turned-MBA-turned Stand-up comic. She has worked in corporate for more than 10 years in IT and HR, before taking the plunge full-time into comedy. Originally a small-town person she takes you into a world of simple characters from life that you see in your family, at work, on-street– people who matter and people who don’t! She talks about her life as a woman– a wife, a daughter, and now a mother (Sigh!). Rupali being an MBA from the leading premier Business school with the further rare experience of top-notch corporate houses makes a great choice for corporate comedy events. Also, Rupali is a promising talent to add to the growing list of female stand-up comedians in India.
Manish used to be a Commander in the Indian Navy before he decided to become a stand-up comic sometime in 2014. An Officer and a Gentleman, he has some very funny tales to tell from his life experiences. His style is full of unprecedented stories blended with wit and humour. His jokes have also been aired on almost all FM stations in the past. Manish has spoken at Josh Talks and 14 TEDx conclaves. He is a great choice for corporate comedy shows because of his clean comedy content, especially which appeals to all age groups. Mature yet witty his content originated from his vast background which can engage and motivate while also making you as well as your family members laugh.
Papa CJ is one of the most influential comedians globally who has been awarded ‘Asia’s Best Stand-up Comedian’ and ‘India’s Best Stand-up Comedian’. After completing his MBA from the University of Oxford and having a successful corporate career, he quit his job and became a full-time comedian. Papa CJ is also an author who has written a book titled, “Naked” which had many positive reviews apart from that he has also written articles for various publications including Harvard Business Review. In 2009 he became the first Indian comedian to be invited to perform at the Just for Laughs festival in Canada. Forbes Magazine called him “The global face of Indian stand-up.” and Huffington Post, New York called him “A world-class global comedian. Well known for his performance in the corporate environment, Papa CJ is known for his sarcastic punch lines, intelligent humour, and unique take on corporate culture.
Vipul is an IITian who went on to become a successful comedian. One of the founders of The Viral Fever (TVF) among 5 other IITians, he rose to fame after playing the protagonist of the mini-web series Humorously Yours by TVF. His style of comedy is extremely relatable & centers around everyday topics like Facebook, engineering, management, dating & more. He is a pioneer of clean comedy who takes his ideas from a wide variety of topics including current affairs, the Indian education industry to dating to politics.
Biswa Kalyan Rath is an Indian stand-up comedian who came to prominence with a YouTube comedy series, Pretentious Movie Reviews with fellow comedian Kanan Gill. Biswa is an IIT graduate, who gave up his job to become a full-time comedian. He started doing stand-up comedy in 2015 and went on his first tour the same year. Biswa has been featured on ‘The Rising Stars of Comedy’ by NDTV Prime. Taking inspiration from his IIT experiences, he is well known for creating humour out of any ordinary daily life situation and is popular among the young crowd for making jokes on unconventional and out-of-the-box topics.
Kanan Gill is a YouTube sensation and a leading stand-up comedian of the current generation. A former software engineer who was also a part of a band, he began writing funny songs and finally took to comedy after winning competitions like Punchline Bangalore and Comedy Store in Mumbai. He gained recognition from his YouTube series Pretentious Movie Reviews where he reviews many Bollywood movies along with fellow stand-up comic Biswa Kalyan Rath. In 2017, he made his Bollywood debut with the movie Noor. Gill is really adept at sketch comedy, having acted in his own ‘How Insensitive! And the acclaimed mockumentary, ‘Better Life Foundation’. From his “there is a cow” bit to talking about relationships and siblings, he has a knack to make any serious material sound funny in a graceful manner.
Shashwat Maheshwari is a scientist-turned-standup comedian who has been making waves in the Indian stand-up comedy scene since 2014. A Kanpur native, Shashwat’s jokes find a home in his stories from the land of leather and his experiences navigating through life in big cities. Shashwat’s genuine storytelling and a knack for packaging surprise in his words led him to get featured twice on NDTV’s Rising Stars of Comedy, a featured act in Weirdass Pyjama Festival, Bengaluru Comedy Festival, and won him a coveted spot on India’s biggest hunt for comedians, Amazon Prime Original’s Comicstaan. A great deal of content mix is quite a strength of Shashwat Maheshwari. Also, his scientific background is the reason you can trust him in his preparedness to deliver. On top of this, his skills in acting add to the overall performance to ensure top-of-the-line delivery.
Neeti Palta is one of the very few female stand-up comedians in India who brings a female perspective on a variety of daily life situations and relatable subjects, all with a dose of rib-tickling humor!. She started her career with an advertisement company, where she worked for almost 12 years. She was voted as the ‘Best Stand-Up Comic’ at the Oz Fest and was India’s first stand-up artist to perform at the prestigious Melbourne Comedy Festival 2013. She has performed for an audience of 30+ nations at the invitation of the former Under-Secretary-General of the UN, Dr. Shashi Tharoor. She was also featured at TEDx in 2011. When it comes to Neeti Palta, the list of her achievements is endless. Her punchlines mostly cater to a wider issue on a variety of subjects inspired by her own experiences like the life of women in India.
Anshu Mor started his stand-up comedy career in 2016 after leaving his 18 years of corporate life with a dream of having his own entertainment content company named ‘Talking Mime’, which delivers original digital content for a wide portfolio. He performed at over 100 shows in his 1st year as a stand-up comedian. His stand-up solo specials – ‘The Anshu Mor Show’ and ‘Wait There’s Mor’, are extremely popular amongst audiences. He has performed at many corporate events for global brands like Cisco, Microsoft, HP, Michelin, Accenture, Adobe, NASSCOM, and more. He is famous for his observational style of comedy, his rich experience in IT helps in connecting with IT audiences, and is extremely popular with the corporate crowd.
Kaneez Surka is a South African actress, comedian, and Indian YouTuber, who works mainly in India. After attending Rhodes University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in law and psychology, she started her career with the show The Week That Wasn’t. She was a judge on the two seasons of the famous show Comicstaan on Amazon Prime. She is known for her improvisational comedy style. Born into a Muslim family, Kaneez is ethnically a Gujarati who has created her own niche in the world of comedy and is a known face on the Indian comedy circuit.
Niveditha Prakasam from Tamil Nadu is an automobile engineer turned language editor turned standup comedian. Niveditha is emphatic and charming. With packed weekend shows and weekday evenings, she has nothing much to do, except make people laugh and cheer them up in joy. Completing over a hundred shows is not even a milestone for her. Stand Up Comedy runs in her veins and it’s evidently visible in her acts. She won the reality TV show TLC Queens of Comedy and has now moved to Bombay to steal everyone’s jobs. Her style has been described as intelligent, wry, and sarcastic, thanks to her wide range of backgrounds. Niveditha is one of those rare stand-up comedians whose comedy is based on self-deprecating humour. From lacking the confidence to face the audience to own the stage with much power, Niveditha’s journey into the comic world is nothing but her pure hard work.
Shridhar Venkataramana is an engineering graduate and holds an MBA from the premier B School IIM Bangalore. He ventured into stand-up comedy in the year 2014. A small-town boy who mainly focuses on his journey to a big city and all of the weird situations he encounters. He tries to keep his jokes clean and focus on different aspects of comedy. He has performed at the most prestigious venue for comedy in India, the Canvas Laugh Club, Mumbai. His gigs include both corporate shows and public shows. His business background is a huge addition to his writing. He has also performed over 4 gigs in IIM Bangalore. Shridhar Venkataramana is well known because of his multi-language inclusive content and a guaranteed clean and non-offensive standup comedy.
Piyush Sharma is a Civil Engineer from IIT Bombay, but soon after graduation, he discovered the construction of a joke fascinated him more than a bridge. On stage, there is nothing civil or engineering about him as he spares no one. A small-town kid at heart, he does jokes about simple things like – job life, small-town mannerisms, or the hilarious dynamics of parents & teachers vs. kids. Piyush Sharma has been doing shows across India that include Corporate, College as well as Auditorium shows and is known for his clean and observational humour. He has travelled and performed across the country which gives him a great experience with a variety of audiences.
Gaurav Gupta is a baniya who is extravagant when it comes to delivering jokes. He is a dentist by profession and a comic by the recession. His comedy involves keen observations of daily life, people, and funny encounters with them. He is a recent WhatsApp viral sensation across India and abroad for his video Being Baniya that now has millions of hits on Facebook and YouTube. Gaurav Gupta made his debut hit in comedy with the Great Indian Laughter Challenge (2017). In 2017, his entry into the Great Indian Laughter Challenge changed his career in comedy. He has also toured several Indian cities for his solo stand-up special “Not Just Baniya.” Gaurav has a certain genre to his comedy and basically revolves his jokes around his caste and its stereotypes, which make him one of the most trending stand-up comics in India.
Vikash Paul, a commerce graduate from SRCC (Delhi), a Chartered Accountant by profession, and a stand-up comedian by passion, is one of the most seasoned and experienced comics from the Chennai stand-up comedy circuit. In the last several years of doing professional stand-up comedy, he has shared the stage with big names in the Indian stand-up comedy scene like Zakir Khan, Amit Tandon, Kunal Kamra, Sorabh Pant, and Kenny Sebastian. Paul’s comedy is based on self-deprecating and observational humour. Vikash is a great choice for corporate comedy shows because of its clean comedy content.
Devanshi Shah is a B.A. pass turned teacher turned writer turned comic. She might make you stand up on the bench if you don’t find her funny. If you still don’t find her funny, you can come and laugh at her choices. Best known for her appearance on Comicstaan (2019), one of her memorable sketches was where she parodied the judges on the show. Her self-deprecating humour is also brilliant to watch! Her shows are backed up by her strong writing skills, and will have you going ‘woaah’. Her inclusive and relatable content and a guaranteed clean and non-offensive standup comedy are best for audiences of all ages.
Humour is a wonderful language that can never be a barrier and welcomes anyone who is willing to try it. This list is incomplete without mentioning the famous personalities from different backgrounds who have tried their hands at comedy and checked another successful feat off their bucket lists. Some of these very loved artists are-
The actress who has been a part of numerous films performed in the 2nd season of One Mic Stand. The actress nailed her comedy debut as she begins her performance by talking about her unapologetic past including many topics from Bollywood, to her bizarre interviews, and ends her act by saying she couldn’t care less about her haters. From dating a stand-up comedian once to trying out stand-up comedy now, Sunny Leone’s amusing journey is a treat to watch which will leave you in splits.
When it comes to comedy it is difficult to picture a politician standing on a stage and making jokes. Shashi Tharoor who is a famous politician, diplomat, and author has left no stone unturned has added another accolade to his name, this time comedy on season 2 of One Mic Stand. Watching our favorite politician crack jokes about political issues is refreshing and funny. His sharp wit and bright personality add to his perfectly written script and while he turns to his childhood, we also hear him answer the elephant in the room, which is his love of complex English words.
While it is hard to believe that Karan Johar can be a stand-up comedian, he actually nails it on One Mic Stand Season 2. He leaves everyone in splits when he talks about how he once asked his mom to advise him on which areas of his face need fillers. He claimed his mother said, “Your face is fine, what about your film scripts, they need fillers.” Using his wit and humour, the director takes a dig at himself while cracking the audience up in riotous laughter.
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