Brilliant, astute, rib tickling, thought-provoking and a tad crazy, Karthik Kumar’s stand up comedy act #PokeMe will have you doubling over in splits.

About The Performer

Recall the cult classic Tamil film, அலைபாயுதே. Now, try to recall the Indian American dude who comes to ask for Shalini’s hand in marriage but gets turned down. (to be fair, Madhavan did have dimples to die for) That would be Karthik Kumar (KK), also known to the Tamil and Telugu movie audience as the “fair dude who never gets the heroine”. Karthik Kumar is a movie and television actor, theatre practitioner and stand-up comedian. He is also the founder of Evam Entertainment which produces and markets his stand-up show #PokeMe

The Show: #PokeMe

The applause for the guy performing the opening act subsides, Karthik comes onto the set and instantly asks for the house lights to be turned on, citing that he does not like performing for an audience whom he cannot see. Almost as soon as he has begun, I saw the rationale behind his request. Karthik’s brand of comedy relies a lot on his interaction with his audience. With his stream of consciousness mode of storytelling and easy interaction with the members of the audience, it is not surprising that the audience remains enthralled for the whole ninety minutes.

Karthik’s on stage banter is unpredictable and loaded with much revelatory fun that only great crowd work can bring. Whether he is dancing, singing or just attempting to moon-walk across the stage, it is nearly impossible for you to take your eyes off him.

Interestingly, Karthik asks his audience members pointed questions about their lives. He asks them about where they work, what they have studied, marital status and at some points, if you are lucky or unlucky (depending on whether you know the answer) he even poses general knowledge questions to you. You would also discover throughout the course of the show, that during various intervals, he somehow manages to make reference to the fodder that the members of the audience have provided him with!

There is no doubt that he has put in a lot of thought and hard work into his act and has come with a well prepared script in mind, but he is also not afraid to divert and seize an opportunity to poke fun at something an audience member has said or has not said. His ability to blend his prepared material with ‘at the moment’ opportunities is where the magic of his act lies. It is these impromptu moments which transformed the show to an entirely different level for me.

What Stuck With Me

Karthik has an agenda and unabashedly sticks by it. His intention is not just to merely make you laugh. He aspires to make you think. He pokes fun at the 377A laws, tries to convince you that homosexuality has been around longer than we realize, trolls movie actors, calls us out on our ignorance and highlights the ironies in government policies. He is certainly not wishy-washy with regards to his jokes. He is there to make a point and he does it with conviction and gusto. At the end of every punch line, he gives his audience something to think about. That is what makes Karthik’s show truly special, his conviction to his material.

My Verdict

Karthik’s #PokeMe show is truly a one of a kind comedic experience. It is very different from the traditional ideas of Indian comedy, which usually involve slapstick jokes, skin colour jokes and women bashing (refer to “கலக்கபோவது/அசத்தபோவது யாரு”). Karthik brilliantly side steps all of that to present you an INTELLIGENT show that will have you doubling over in laughter for the bulk of the night.

My only gripe with the show was that it did not have enough Singapore related jokes. I expected that there would be since he was performing here. Nevertheless, it was a brilliant show and it delivered what it promised – a night of intellectual merrymaking and revelry.

P.S.: I believe that Karthik Kumar will be returning to Singapore to perform a brand new show later in June. I would strongly recommend everyone to go catch it! (stay tuned to ChutneySG) It’s definitely worth your time and money!

Written by Hemma

Hemma is a travel enthusiast who is greatly fascinated by language and culture. Linguistics and cultural anthropology deeply interest her. She continually seeks to comprehend and make sense of the world through these two mechanisms. A reformed eternal optimist, she still sometimes lives in imaginary little bubbles, each one a different shade of purple. On good days, she wants to change the world, on better days, she dreams of living in a small house by a lake, curled up next to a golden retriever with a good detective novel.

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