A YouTube hit, and one of Australia's brightest emerging comedy acts, Neel Kothatkar is on a mission to make sure people realise he can make audiences laugh on stage, as well as on the Internet.
For those unaware of Neel's stand-up comedy style, he shared his views on what he will bring to the stage on his upcoming tour, 'Neel Before Me'. “My stand-up is very broad. I'll be doing all sorts of jokes, while still keeping the essence of what I do which is character impressions, accents and things like that, but there's a lot of social commentary in there. I do a lot of bits on what it's like to be young and relative topics today. I do a bit on political correctness and things like that.
“It's all very high-intensity, lively and I think it's for everyone. Anyone who enjoys to laugh should be able to come. I wouldn't limit it to say it's only for certain people that like a certain genre. I think there's enough in there for people of all ages.”
Neel's face has been hard to avoid on social media over the past few years, with his satirical YouTube video, 'Australia In 2 Minutes', going viral. It is a controversial look at Australian stereotypes that got some people laughing, and a lot of people talking. “It was just a spur of the moment kind of a video. It was very on the spot, I improvised a lot of it and just went for it. I went a bit crazy. I think that kind of caught on and everyone shared it and it got me a fanbase.”
Since the release of this video, Neel has continued to record himself performing comedic impressions, and he feels that making people laugh is a great way to raise social issues. “I think satire is a very effective tool in implementing social change or changing attitudes because you're getting a reaction from someone that's very different from the usual. If you're picketing or just doing a speech you might bring about anger, but if you're getting across your viewpoint through making someone else laugh, I think that's a very powerful tool.
“If you can poke fun at something I think its a very powerful position to be in as opposed to telling someone why they're bad, or telling someone why it's wrong. You can make light of it. I think overall the internet is a great comedy platform, because it doesn't need to pander to any particular audience.”
You can scroll down the comedian's YouTube video comments to get an idea of the mixed reactions people have had to his twist on raising social issues. Neel explains what he thinks about the newly emerging 'outrage culture'. “I think political correctness was a good thing particularly to began with and its made people more aware of the plights of various social and cultural groups. But at the same time, I think there is a bit more of an 'outrage culture' now. People don't look deeper into the comedy or the art to try to ascertain the creative intention, or meaning.
“Some people are way to quick to say something is racist, or sexist or homophobic and I think you really have to take some time to analyse whether that actually is the case.”
Being one of the faces of the new generation of Australian comics, it was interesting to hear what the 21-year-old thought about the current state of this country's comedy scene. “I think it's great, and it's certainly been very good to me. I think there's this newly imagined online scene that is interesting. It's new to people, and the established comedy scene doesn't always know how to react to it.”
However, I think overall the internet is a great comedy platform, because it doesn't need to pander to any particular audience. Yeah, I think the Australian comedy scene is in great shape at the moment. I wish there was a bit more television for stand-up comedians but again, I can sit here and complain but I've got the internet. We're not reliant on radio or TV which comedy has been historically, so I think it's in very good shape.”
TOUR DATESTue 2 Feb - Sat 6 Feb – Perth Fringe FestivalSat 20 Feb - Sun 21 Feb – Adelaide Fringe FestivalThu 24 Mar – Melbourne Comedy Festival