Comedian Ashwin Segkar showed how a themed stand-up solo show should be done with ‘Rasa’ over the last few days of Wonderland 2019.
While the energy and laughs slowed down late in the game for a bit, he concluded strong and left a strong impression as a rising talent.
A likeable presence on stage, he was impishly raunchy, gentle but provocative and intelligent while also being questioning. With shows of this ilk, getting the audience on your side helps but holding them in the palm of your hand is the ultimate mark of success. Ashwin’s central idea for the performance did half of the work for him in this regard, with him explaining that in western culture a show is about the story it tells and how that reflects on our humanity. Whereas in the east, it is all about evoking and unpacking certain moods and what they say about us.
Ultimately, the stand-up unpacked more than one vivid feeling, or rasa, as they are called, possibly he got to eight. Each one led to a wider conversation and the young man, originally from India and raised for a time in Malaysia, was more than happy to engage with his audience about his own life, race, gender, politics and ideas about society. He also got audience members to talk about their own feelings, thoughts, and histories and did callbacks to what they had said later on.
As a conversation there was something thoughtful and communal in the Graffiti Room of the Powerhouse that night. As a comedy performance the set-up provided structure but also the freedom to go off on tangents. The chuckles were present throughout, sometimes hysterically and sometimes uncomfortably – for the most part, effortlessly.
So many leaps to solo shows from comedians come across as rambling messes with kernels of big laugh-out-loud moments and ponderous self-evaluation. Understandably, it often requires work and time to perfect. Yet Ashwin had a relaxed manner and charm, with always the next cue card of a rasa nearby if he got stuck. When a peek of his real self shone through, stripped of a comedic persona, he remained a presence which entertained and endeared.
Ashwin Segkar is clearly someone to keep an eye out for on the comedy circuit.