Kanan Gill, a 29-year-old Indian comedian, comes back to London to talk about his experiences in India, foreign and everything in between.
Kanan Gill, an Indian software engineer turned stand-up comedian, hosted his show, “Kanan Gill: Yours Sincerely” at the Soho Theatre in London. The show is a part of his World Tour and lasted for four days: from 6th November to 11th November. With the intimate set-up in place, the atmosphere was more than exciting. I was able to get front row seats, and felt like it was the perfect first stand-up show to attend! Gill performed an hour’s worth of set and addressed his childhood and education in India whilst addressing a letter 15-year-old Kanan Gill had written for his future self.
Addressing himself “Sir” in the letter, Gill read out each one of his goals for the audience, exposing them to intimate details and stories about his personal life. Some of them were extremely relatable for the mostly Indian audience present. It was made fairly evident by the constant laughter and applause his jokes received from the audience. Being an English show, however, helped the non-Indian audience connect with his material and he made sure he explained Hindi terms/statements to make it even more accessible. As a result, being a non-Hindi speaker, I still felt like I could connect and understand most of the content he was presenting.
His material has always been famous for being extremely relatable among Indians, and he hit all the right notes. However, he narrated some uncomfortable experiences with a doctor and then made some even more uncomfortable mental health ‘jokes’. He amended his own statements, and apologised for the jokes in a self-aware manner and asked people to get help. Yet, he followed up that statement with another insensitive (“dark”?) joke that entirely contradicted his previous statement.
That was one instance that made me question why people around me were laughing, as I sat in uncomfortable silence. Having said that, it is of paramount importance that anyone (including him) take his mental health seriously – if you need help, please don’t hesitate to reach out. It is often uncomfortable for me to take comedians seriously when they don’t use their platform to spread the right message. This leaves the audience in a sticky position because it’s hard to critically engage with comedy.
Having said this, the show ended at odd crossroads for me. While I found most of the comedy funny, I was unable to process the sour parts of it. The audience was fully enthused to see brown comedians being represented. At the same time, I was able to cure my own homesickness by surrounding myself with Indian people and reminisce about my own school memories along with Kanan.
Find Kanan Gill on Instagram.