Adnan Nalwala, who calls himself a ‘third cultured adult’, bases much of his unique ‘observational and incident-based comedy’ on his experiences travelling across the globe to more than 36 countries such as China, Japan, Oman, UAE, the US and India. Adnan is not just a performer, He is an entertainer. His vivacity and energy on stage are infectious just as his storytelling, physicality and dancing skills are unique in the stand-up comedy circuit.
The Modern-Day Comic Batman
Adnan’s most distinguishing trait as a stand-up, is how he combines all this with over-the-top spectacle, wit and intelligence. This 36-year-old, a businessman by day and a funny man by night, has been entertaining crowds at various events in the US, UAE and India for the past eight years and performing with some of the best comedians in the Middle East.
Excerpts from an interview:Who would you say are your influences in the comedy world?
Kevin Hart, Andy Kauffman and Lee Evans. On a personal level, my source of comedy has been my parents. My father has an amazing sense of humour and my mother has impeccable impersonation skills. I have been lucky to watch them both and pick it up from them.
Where does your humour come from?
Most of my humour comes from experiences that I have personally gone through, so I would call them observational and incident-based comedy. I do cover trending topics as well, but I need to feel about those issues deeply. My routines are the mix of physicality, impersonation and dance. I try to incorporate relationship and sports experiences I have faced living as a third cultured adult. A lot of my jokes are about the cultural differences I see in different parts of the world. I have lived in 7 countries and visited over 36. The amalgamation of these experiences helps me to come up with new content.
Your comments about the industry in general and in the country overall!
I think the comedy industry in India is booming. I am not entirely sure about the numbers and financial gains, but the appetite and awareness of comedy are growing rapidly. India is unique because it has a market for Hindi comedians, ‘Hinglish comedians’ and English comedians. If you find your niche there is a lot that can be done, and the crowd is ready to lap you up.
Have you ever just blanked out on stage?
I have probably struggled a few times on stage but the one time I clearly remember things got out of hand was at a corporate event; it had nearly 500 people in the audience and it was a prestigious event. When the Chairman entered everyone got up from their seats and went to shake his hand, for about 2 minutes I continued with my set, but with nearly half the crowd up, it started becoming really difficult to talk as their voice was overpowering mine. I took the mic in my hand got off the stage and walked up to the Chairman shook his hands and said would you like to say something to everyone over here? And he said yes...and I said, ‘too bad I have the mic and wait till I finish’ and people laughed and got back to listening to me.
Do you prefer improvisation on the stage or stick to the script?
You need to be able to improvise and add to the content if the situation arises and that happens over a period of time when you get plenty of stage hours under your belt. The art lies in making it look like the comedian is improvising and having a good time. Comedy is no laughing matter. For every minute on stage, a comedian puts in on an average 10 hours of work, which includes research, writing and rehearsing. While it may look like a few words on stage it takes a lot of courage and effort. So, yes, I stick to the script and I recommend that as well.
Do you get a lot of hecklers?
I have been quite fortunate to have had very few hecklers...but this one time someone got up and yelled "not funny! and that's my opinion" (I feel he wanted attention) ... I just sneezed on stage and said, "Oops sorry I am allergic to stupidity. You were saying?” And every time he said something, I kept sneezing and eventually the crowd laughed and had him shut up. In general, I feel there is no need to indulge the hecklers…you should keep going with your set. Besides, I feel hecklers have the most redundant job in the world. If you really want to hurt a comedian, you don't need to say anything – by just not laughing you are already killing him/her.
When you're a headliner, do you hate when your opening act kills? Does that make it easier or harder for you?
I don't think the word headliner or opening act matters if you are doing your set with the right amount of enthusiasm and respect for the audience will react to you. Of course, it helps when the opening act sets the pace for a good show but in general, for a matured comedian all he/she wants to ensure is that the overall show is a success.