At the end of his stand-up comedy gigs, it is pretty routine for Dr Jagdish Chaturvedi to receive compliments and also dispense medical advice. "There was once a person in the audience who came up to me and said he enjoyed the set. He then went on consult me about his ear problems," says Chaturvedi.
In the field of medicine, this 33-year-old ENT surgeon from Bengaluru is known for co-inventing 18 devices, among which are those for liver biopsies and preventing lung collapse in babies. Outside of operating theatres across hospitals in Bengaluru, Chaturvedi is known as a theatre artiste and stand-up comedian. In June, the surgeon-comic will perform his first ever solo in Mumbai, as part of his multi-city tour, F for Failure.
In what seems to be a take on one of Murphy's Laws - if something can go wrong, it will - the theme of the solo is pitched around personal foibles. Chaturvedi says this set has been on his bucket list for long now, as he is keen on sharing his "supernatural power of scr***ng up". "I have always wanted to know how people would perceive me if I openly spoke about my failures. I am full of mistakes," he says.
If you look up Chaturvedi, it is hard to imagine that this overachiever could be anything but a series of fiascos. "Born, brought up and spoiled" in Bengaluru, Chaturvedi is trained in Biodesign Process at Stanford in California, AIIMS and IIT-New Delhi. The training for his comic routines, however, was nothing like this. "My first ever stand-up act was at Rooster T. Feathers Comedy Club (in Sunnyvale, California) where I went on stage mainly because there were free drinks for participating comics. I was heckled and booed during my act. The same thing happened again in Gurgaon, where, you know, folks prefer a different kind of comedy," he says.
From there on, Chaturvedi now performs regularly in Bengaluru, runs his YouTube channel called The Magaa of Small Things, and is even sought out for comic relief during medical conferences. Chaturvedi has previously done some open mics in Mumbai, whenever he would travel to the city to perform surgeries or to visit Tata Memorial Hospital and found that his evenings were free.
All this may make you believe that Chaturvedi's strain of comedy will mostly draw from the patient-doctor cases, but this is no Scrubs. Calling it "purely observational, narrative and clean", Chaturvedi says that he draws from the day-to-day experience of the average person. If you have attended any of his previous gigs, while the odd reference to his profession may come up, the sets are largely relatable, right from the queue experience in Indian cities to modern relationships. "I try to make sure that my comic sets aren't preachy," he says.
While Chaturvedi may steer clear of his medical alter-ego onstage, he says that his interactions with patients and his colleagues border on the comic at times. Usually the funny one at work, he says that he often afflicts his colleagues with his jokes and tests his puns on them. "Patients usually are intimidated by doctors; they think that hospitals exist to rob them. When people see me perform they find it more easy to relate, which is why, I suppose, they come up to me with their health issues," he explains.
F for Failure, which starts in Bengaluru, will be performed at NIMHANS, the institute famed for its research on mental health, as a fundraiser for depression awareness. While the remainder of the shows, including the Mumbai one, are not part of the fundraiser, Chaturvedi says, "These are going to be about funny incidents and not about depression at all. It is only to understand that we live in an anti-failure society, and we need to change that mindset."
WHEN: June 10, 10.30 PM
WHERE: Canvas Laugh Club, Palladium, High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel
ENTRY: Rs 600
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