Unlike many of his peers, Amit Tandon, with his ‘clean comedy’, entertains a generation older than millennials
Stand-up comedy stages, unlike television, are not bound by censorship (at least, not yet). So, cuss words and dirty jokes are commonplace. Amit Tandon, however, never swears on stage. At least, not any more. He refrains from innuendos, too. Whilst a large number of the audience for stand-up shows are millennials and young adults, Amit primarily entertains another ‘growing segment’ — people aged between 35 to 65 — whom he calls the “arthritis audience”.
“The people who go to other comedians’ shows, their parents come to my shows,” jokes Amit, who has performed over 200 shows, and toured cities within India and abroad; he has also released a Netflix special, Family Tandoncies.
Amit started performing in his mid-thirties. “I was telling stories of my experiences. A lot of my comedy was about the challenges of having two children at home. Or, the ageing of my marriage. These things connected with people in that 30-35 plus age group,” he says, adding, “In the first two or three years, when I was doing open mics, I have used cuss words. I was 36 or 37 when I started comedy. And I was living in a joint family with children. So, at home, I used to control my language in front of my children and parents. Even when I went on stage, I was uncomfortable using a cuss word if I saw a child or a person from my father’s age group. That is why I decided to do clean comedy.”
His audience, however, is not a minority because of that choice. “When stand-up comedy started in India, around 2010, there was a certain audience for it. Now, however, there is no standard audience; it varies for specific performers. For example, Kanan (Gill) or Kenny (Sebastian) end up doing many college shows. I get zero bookings for them. On the other hand, I do a lot of corporate shows because they want someone who relates to that age group and does clean comedy,” he explains.
Amit’s comedy is a narration of his actual experiences or the stories he makes to share his opinions. “For instance, if I go to a bank to deposit a cheque and if they are trying to hard-sell some mutual fund plan, I talk about that. On other occasions, I want to share an opinion — like, in my Netflix special, I talk about how people lose their identities when they become parents. Even the parents address each other as mama and papa often.” His comedy is also centred on the family. “That happens because a lot of my challenges are related to my home. You generally write about stuff that concerns you. In my case, I have two children. So whenever I am away from work, all I am doing is figuring out how to help them with their homework, what careers they would choose, where to take them shopping,” he says.
He used to discuss politics, occasionally, but avoids the topic now. “It has become so polarised. I am neither a left-winger nor a right-winger. If you say anything, you have to be on either side, which I am not. And people usually have strong opinions. So, I don’t think it is worth the trouble to discuss politics,” he adds.
Since 2019 was a busy year for Amit — he performed over 50 shows in 33 US cities besides shows in India; there was also the Netflix special — he welcomed the pandemic-induced break in 2020. “After a month-and-a-half, however, I was itching to be back on stage.” He now has a live show scheduled for April. “I am excited. It is like going back home for vacations,” he adds.