Kal Main Udega review: Rahul Subramanian's Amazon special has some funny moments, but struggles to keep your attention
Rahul Subramanian, in many of his YouTube skits, employs humour that borders on absurdist comedy, and, as a viewer, it's quite enjoyable. The same cannot be said about his stand-up special Kal Main Udega.
Rahul Subramanian's stand-up special Kal Main Udega starts off with an absurd skit. It's not the bad kind of absurd; it's just absurd in a minutely funny way. Rahul, in many of his YouTube skits, employs humour that borders on absurdist comedy, and, as a viewer, it's quite enjoyable. The same cannot be said about his stand-up special Kal Main Udega.
Before we get into why I didn't enjoy the special, I have to say that stand-up, as a form of art, is an extremely difficult one. It may not seem so to many, and that's understandable. Stand-up comedy doesn't require you to effortlessly bend your body at uncomfortable angles while maintaining a gracious posture, or spend innumerable hours trying to figure out what three colours to mix together to complete your masterpiece displayed on a marvellous canvas. Stand-up comedy is just a person with a microphone saying things.
Rahul Subramanian is one of the more recognisable stand-up comics in India. He is an MBA holder from IMT Ghaziabad and used to work for Mahindra & Mahindra before he jumped into the Indian comedy circuit. How do I know this? Because Rahul, in his stand-up routine, mentions having an MBA and working in a corporation a lot. I get the appeal of a joke on the subject of getting an MBA or an engineering degree, especially among younger audiences. School kids getting pushed towards engineering colleges and college students being compelled to answer CAT is a common trope, but, when it comes to stand-up, jokes on the same subject gets tiring.
As soon as the show starts, Rahul mentions how his life has changed since he became a professional stand-up comic. He reminds us of our miserable existence – getting out of bed, rushing to work, punching in and living our nine-to-five existence. While Rahul doesn't have to deal with any of it anymore, his audiences have no choice. Making you face the ever-lurking existential dread head-on through humour is a classic stand-up routine. Comedians have used it for years in their own unique ways to make people laugh in anguish. But, while watching Kal Main Udega, the jokes don't have any such effect. The punchlines pass you by, and all you're left with is an audience clapping.
The show does have its funny moments. There are jokes that make the audience gasp; like when Rahul jokes about domestic violence. I, for one, believe that a comedian should be able to joke about anything. There should be no boundaries or set precedents for what can or cannot be said. But in India, this is the impossible bit. Rahul does a commendable segment about DJs and why they're the absolute worst. He even does some clever "dark jokes", like "My friend said he didn't want to live any longer, so I killed him."
At one point, Rahul takes the audience to task while discussing the much-hyped Maria Sharapova drugs infraction. Rahul says that the drugs found in Sharapova's system is not the same as the ones you (the audience) do, while enacting the snorting of cocaine and screaming, "Ladakh chalte hai!" (The audience then claps enthusiastically). This was either sly commentary about how people's desire to travel stems more from wanting to showoff to the world rather for their own peace of mind; or "Ladakh chalte hai!" is just something people say when high on coke.
Kal Main Udega shows why the Indian stand-up scene thrives on YouTube, because the clips are mostly under ten minutes in length. Rahul Subramanian's special is a long one, almost an hour. At some point you'll want to not watch it all the way through. All good comedy specials can engage its viewers, even when they're watching it on a screen, but Kal Main Udega doesn't do that.
Rahul Subramanian has entered the Indian stand-up scene right at the beginning of it going truly mainstream. Envisioning a stand-up special by an Indian comic was, till very recently, a distant thought, but now it's happening. As Amazon churns out homegrown content, we'll hopefully get to see comics, like Rahul Subramanian, with new material that'll make their comedy specials truly special.
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