The Most Interesting Person in the Room review: Kenny Sebastian's Netflix special celebrates all things comfortably average
Kenny Sebastian chooses to plant his gaze on oddities that most would miss out on, amidst the humdrum of everyday negativities in his Netflix special
The Most Interesting Person in The Room is Kenny Sebastian’s love letter to all things average and the glories that come with it. Through his one-hour Netflix special, the comedian emphasises the need to be bizarre, idiotic, and even pointless at times. “It’s hard to be the most interesting person, so I’d rather just be remembered for the comedy I perform.”
Kenny chooses to plant his gaze on oddities that most would miss out on, amidst the humdrum of everyday negativities. From Ostriches and their inability to fly, the obvious ill-fate of ‘chappals’ as opposed to shiny heels or shoes, to the popularity and soaring self-confidence of babies — all come under his keen radar as he launches his gentle tirade against these presumably unimportant things.
During a chat with Firstpost, the comedian reveals that a Netflix gig was like a dream come true, “I really wanted my set to be unique since it’s so hard to produce relatable content when you’re competing with memes, funny online videos, and spoofs. So, I thought of going really niche and took a deep-dive into the topics.”
Everything in the set revolves around Sebastian’s acute imagination and a hilarious back story of how his art teacher rammed his head against his “masterpiece” since his adolescent self chose to use the mind’s eye and draw two trees instead of the instruction to perfect a single one for two years. “So, every time I try to be imaginative now, my head hurts.”
The comedian admits that his education (with a degree in Visual Arts) was an obvious let-down as compared to his father’s heydays in IIT Kanpur. Subtle, innocuous yet potent jibes follow, and paint a picture of undue pressure that children grow up with, in a nation that enjoys “not listening”. As the room erupts in thundering applause on his academic history, the comedian blithely comments, “I understand sarcasm. All you guys are thinking — ‘poor thing, he is uneducated’.”
On a similar strain, Sebastian chooses to highlight the acute pressure on men and women to conform to certain body images, and the ones marginalised from the norm, automatically face social ire. “Always be kind to short guys and tall girls,” he says purposefully, but not before he extracts the humour lying beneath the height-aspirations of teenage boys and the helplessness of tall girls — “Tall women have to compromise with their partners, especially in India. (Copies a woman's tone) ‘Can I get the same height? No, not available? That stock is over?”
A master at improv, Kenny admits that the special hardly had any space for on-stage additions. “I wanted the set to be completely tight and had rehearsed for months on end to that effect.” But the water-drinking bit (which has become a signature move of sorts from his first YouTube special) was the only unscripted bit that made it to the final cut. “Once I got a similar reaction from the audience, I just had to go on with it and we ended up deciding to put it in the editing room, because, you know…I’m so extra that way,” he quips.
Kenny tastefully anthropomorphises unreal expectations and the consequent duress through his sections on birds and footwear. His set is not filled with laugh-out-loud humour, but it’s full of happy moments of cherished pleasures that can only come from simple observations and a heightened sense of empathy.
A fabulous job by the light coordinator Desmond Quadros underlines Sebastian’s jokes at appropriate moments, especially during Kenny’s interplay with musical instruments. Kenny elaborates on the process saying it took several months to perfect the coordination between sound and light departments with his movements. “Thank you for noticing this bit, because most of us tend to completely ignore it. But, yes, I had my inputs because I wanted to go full haul to make it perfect. My manager and I took a full month just to finalise whether we wanted a black-out at the end, so in that way, it’s very meticulous work.”
Sebastian steers clear of taking any moral high ground while performing his stand-up set. His choice of topics gives him the leeway to be quirky and eccentric, a comfortable zone for him to dabble with. The comedian’s USP lies in his endearing personality, a fact which he seems to be well aware of. When asked, he says comedy is a by-product of his existence. “I often discuss this with Kanan (Gill) and I feel that every joke needs to have a context and you need to get to the core of it.”
The Most Interesting Person in The Room does not come with a side of socio-political jargon or witty remarks on the sorry state of affairs in the country, it instead basks in the knowledge of being silly. But that’s not to say his jokes are meaningless. In fact, Sebastian imbues within his set a continual commentary on man-made constructs of self-worth.
His short musical escapades come in as welcome interruptions as he strums effortlessly on what he calls the “baby-making machine” — his guitar, or even the less fortunate harmonium. The stand-up set is peppered with Kenny’s beautiful musical renditions that enhance the feel-good quality his humour revels in, begging the question on whether he plans to produce a standalone album in the near future. He explains that he misses producing and performing music a lot, especially since he began his journey with it. “But I feel I am too much in love with comedy right now to shift my focus to music. Plus, I would not be able to do justice with it while still juggling my stand-up commitments.” He, however, ends on a positive note saying one of the tracks from The Most Interesting Person (he keeps it a secret which one) will get released as a single on 10 June.
The Netflix special climaxes seamlessly into a final swansong stressing on the need to be carefree. Not unlike his show’s title, Kenny succeeds in capturing his viewers’ interests while still spinning an intricate web where his flights of fancies take priority.
The Most Important Person in The Room streams on Netflix from 29 May.
(All images from Netflix)
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