The guitar is Jagan Krishnan’s best friend. When he arrives at The Hindu’s Chennai office, armed with a guitar ala Suriya in Vaaranam Aayiram, he underlines the fact that he’s a stand-up comedian as well as a musician.
We give him a topic – an evening at Marina beach – and Jagan immediately breaks into an impromptu song. Everything – the lyrics and the tune – are made up on the fly, but the rendition is enjoyable. Similarly, improv comedy, a form in which humour is made up on the spot, is among Jagan’s strong suit. His recent Tamil comedy set with Mervyn Rozz titled ‘Kaathuvakula Rendu Comedians’ is proof of that.
Currently, Jagan is busy touring with his first ever solo comedy show, ‘Jagane Thanthiram’. A musical stand-up romantic comedy, it is about how he found the love of his life. “I wrote this material during lockdown, when I had many existential questions. The subject matter hit me when I read Erich Fromm’s book, The ‘Art of Loving. I could relate to a lot of points in the book, and that gave me an idea that culminated into this show,” he says.
Jagan was in a full-time IT job a decade ago, before plunging full-time into stand-up comedy. “I was lucky enough to be in a company that had a comedy club. They were keen on promoting in-house talent at office events, probably because they did not need to pay entertainers from outside. This created a community within the company, and that helped me a lot.”
Today, despite being a sought-after Tamil comedian, Jagan doesn’t write every day. “To write a comedic set, you need to have life experiences. Just going out to watch a movie, playing with my kids and living life gives me material for my writing process.”
When he says this, he is also referring to the time he spends with music, listening to the latest and old songs by Tamil music composers. This has actually given him a lot of material; Jagan’s comedy video sets on Harris Jayaraj and D Imman are popular among fans. “I start all those by stating that I’m just a loser who failed as a musician and am venting out my frustration on other musicians. The reactions are mixed, but a majority of the people have enjoyed it. Santhosh Narayanan enjoyed these sets. Imman, in fact, came to Coimbatore to watch the show because the Chennai show was sold out!”
Jagan usually listens to his carefully-curated comedy playlist every day. Among his favourites are Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle and Richard Pryor’s ‘Live on the Sunset Strip’.
“To write a comedy set, you need to have life experiences. Just going out to watch a movie or playing with my children gives me material for my writing process.”Jagan KrishnanStand-up comedian
He has also turned actor, having worked in Tamil films like Veetla Vishesham, Sardar, Good Night and Ratham. “It’s a nice experience to act. I used to be the guy who plans for five years in advance, and none of that worked. I’m now happy working on my current material, and taking life as it comes.”
‘Jagane Thandhiram’ will be performed on September 17 (6pm) at the Music Academy. Tickets on bookmyshow