From introvert to stand-up stardom: Anubhav Singh Bassi shares his 'accidental' journey into comedy

All set to perform live at the Dubai Comedy Festival, the comedian also opens up about his approach to preparing for major shows

by

Somya Mehta

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Published: Wed 10 Apr 2024, 6:04 PM

In the world of comedy, where laughter reigns supreme, few storytellers captivate audiences with as much candour and authenticity as Anubhav Singh Bassi. Behind his effortless humour lies a journey marked by personal transformation, resilience, and a relentless pursuit of his passion.

Born and raised in a village, Bassi’s early years, contrary to what one may assume, were characterised by being an introvert rather than an extrovert. Yet, even in the simplicity of rural life, his mind was a playground for witty observations and humorous musings. “I wasn't very extroverted, but I often found myself making fun of things in my head,” Bassi reminisces, tracing the origins of his journey.


The transition to city life for schooling introduced him to new environments, where the need for communication clashed with his introverted nature. “Sometimes, you feel like not speaking at all,” he reflects, “but then you recognise the necessity of speaking up, whether it’s to excel academically or to gain recognition from teachers—you have to communicate.”

It was during eighth grade that Bassi fully began to embrace his ambivert nature. As he immersed himself in extracurricular activities, he found solace in conversation and friendship, his keen observations fuelling his budding comedic sensibilities.


“This transformation occurred within me over time,” says Bassi. “I began making friends with many people, which allowed me to engage in conversations, observe things, discuss topics, and even poke fun at them.”

Life, however, had its challenges, and Bassi’s journey was no exception. “After everything accumulated, just before starting stand-up, I was feeling very low in life,” he recalls. Yet, it was precisely in this moment of darkness that he experienced a breakthrough, a burst of inspiration that would propel him towards the stage. “I got into stand-up comedy accidentally, without any planning. I just went on stage without any preparation.”

Initially, it was a leap of faith, a spontaneous decision to take the stage without preparation. “I had just been rejected by a company, so I ended up going to this place where there was standup comedy and just decided to go up on stage. I remember I was given four minutes to perform. I got 2-3 laughs, and I thought, ‘Okay, nice, it feels fun to do’ but I didn't think I’d pursue it in the future.”

From intimate shows with a handful of spectators to commanding audiences of hundreds, the comedian’s confidence has grown with each performance. “Dubai is where it all begins,” he adds, reflecting on the significance of the city in his journey. Here, amidst the bustling energy of the audience, he feels a connection unlike any other. “I always start my world tour from Dubai,” he affirms, a testament to the city's role as the launchpad for his global endeavours.

Following the tremendous success of his previous show Bas kar bassi,” the comedian is returning to the city for another live performance as part of Dubai Comedy Festival commencing on April 12. The lineup features not only him headlining the show as an Indian comedian, but also includes many other local talents, such as comedians from the Middle East and the Arab world.

When speaking of the opportunity to perform on a global stage, he adds, “I’ll make every effort to arrive 1-2 days before the event, so I can spend time with those involved, and for me, it’s also my debut headlining such a festival. So, it’s a great opportunity to interact with artistes from all across the world.”

As the comedian reflects on his journey in the world of stand-up comedy, he recounts the meticulous process behind crafting his material and the evolution of his shows. “It's not like we go straight to the stage in front of 2,000 people with our material," he emphasises. “We start by performing bits and pieces of the show in front of a smaller audience, of about 30-40 people and go in knowing that many things may not land well.”

“There are things that seem funny at home but don't work on stage, and then you quickly move past them. The focus is on what will work, which you must take home, and what won't work, which you must drop,” he adds. “Plus, how much humiliation can 30-40 people really inflict?” It’s called the ‘trial show’, so people who come in already know that not everything will turn out well.”

Yet, with each trial comes growth and refinement. “After doing it once, you’re able to gauge that the show you’ve put together, of about 1 hour 30 minutes, will work,” says Bassi, adding that's when he transitions to larger audiences of 500-1,000 people. However, the nerves remain palpable. “Still, there is nervousness before going on stage, not knowing what will happen,” he admits. “But once you step on stage, the energy of the audience attracts you, and then you manage.”

Even when faced with moments of comedic misfire, the comedian remains unfazed. “Sometimes, a joke completely falls flat, the line goes dead. But we have many ways to make it disappear, so nobody even notices what happened,” says Bassi.

Bassi in Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar alongside Ranbir Kapoor
Bassi in Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar alongside Ranbir Kapoor

In January 2023, the comedian made his Bollywood debut with Luv Ranjan's Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar, and subsequently, in February 2023, he launched his stand-up special Bas Kar Bassi on Amazon Prime Video.

Beyond the stage, the comedian remains open to new opportunities and challenges. While comedy is his forte, he harbours a desire to explore diverse roles in the entertainment industry, transcending the boundaries of laughter to delve into the realm of serious acting.

“If I like a character and get the opportunity to portray it, I'll definitely go for it because I don't think I'm a professionally-trained actor on screen. I'm open to exploring non-comedic genres as well, including serious characters, as long as I'm drawn to the role,” he adds.

From his humble beginnings to his ascent to a comedy star, his journey serves as an inspiration to all who dare to chase their dreams, one laugh at a time.

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