In stand-up comedy, there are many ways to make an audience laugh. Ashish Karnawat’s approach to this art is unique. His performances combine movement arts, humour, and social commentary. An upcoming artist hailing from Rajasthan and based in Bengaluru, his one-hour solo show — Did I Make Sense? — offers a fresh take on comedy, making the audience laugh as well as ponder about social issues.
Ashish’s artistic journey began in 2020 with a nine-month diploma program at Moksha Arts Space in Bengaluru. The training he received went beyond the conventional. “During the program, I learned about contemporary dance and physical theatre, and we also created various performances,” he recalls.
Ashish continued exploring and expanding his repertoire by taking additional classes and teaching dance. As he ventured further into performing arts, he began to recognise the significance of ongoing training. “I benefited from the artistic freedom and improvisation techniques I learned during my training,” he says.
One notable solo performance that sparked Ashish’s comic style was Sparkling Kachra, which addressed the issue of caste discrimination. “I found that I could use humour to convey a serious message effectively, and my teachers also noticed this talent,” he says.
This realisation led to a transition into stand-up comedy, inspired by Ashish’s unique way of speaking and the use of Hindi slang. Thus Did I Make Sense? was born. “In this solo show, I delve into an array of seemingly unrelated topics. But there’s a common thread that runs throughout the performance,” he explains, “The central theme revolves around the idea of searching for meaning and purpose in our daily lives.”
Did I Make Sense? combines humour, storytelling, and social commentary, often incorporating Ashish’s body and movement while speaking. The performance touches on topics such as caste, gender, and patriarchy, often using quirky characters (one of them is called Laddu ke Mummy) to address these issues in a lighthearted manner.
“What sets Did I Make Sense? apart from usual stand-up comedy shows is that it combines various stories within a single one-hour performance. I incorporate dance into my routines, and it’s not just random movement; I actually dance as part of the act,” he says.
“This aspect of my performance makes it stand out and adds to the uniqueness of the show. After the dance portion, I transition to discussing other topics, but I always circle back to my stand-up character, creating a continuous flow of entertainment.”
Ashish’s unique approach to comedy is heavily influenced by the world of physical comedy. “Jim Carrey has been a significant influence on my comedic style,” he says. “My approach was simply to merge my training in dance and movement with my attempts at stand-up comedy. It was a unique experiment.”
He adds that inspiration for his performances could be found everywhere, from the mundane to the extraordinary. “I find inspiration all around me. Whether I’m travelling on a BMTC bus, reading a newspaper, or scrolling through Instagram, I’m always observing and noting down ideas.”
Ashish’s performances also draw from his background in social work and rural development, connecting everyday experiences with social, cultural, and gender-related elements.
Did I Make Sense? is scheduled for October 22 from 7:30pm to 8:30pm at TheatreNama Studios in Koramangala. Tickets on bookmyshow.com.