Daniel Fernandes is the fun uncle of the Indian stand up comedy scene who helped shape what it is today. With his dark, political/satirical take on current affairs, his punchlines are crisp. If you’re not paying attention you could miss them. Just like you miss going out.
As LIVE shows stay canceled for the foreseeable future, how does a full-time comedian stay on top of the game?
We got in touch with Daniel to know more about his brand, his journey as a standup comedian and his new podcast show You started it!
Daniel was part of the first wave of comedians to hit the Indian scene in 2011. He tried his hand in stand-up while completing his MBA in 2011. Later that year, he started attending open mics in Bombay frequently.
And just like that, he had the ‘never looking back’ moment.
“I knew there was a strong possibility of this turning into a viable career so I quit my job and went all in. It’s been 9 years now and I cannot imagine doing anything else” – Daniel Fernandes
Too many laughs could kill a comedian
India’s comedy scene is fast-growing with lots of young (and old) talent coming up. At a time like this staying relevant happens to be one of the biggest challenges a comedian could face, Daniel explains.
“ There’s so much competition in terms of what’s grabbing the attention of your audience, so you need to constantly remind them that you exist, that you’re good and that they need to give you their money.” – Daniel
Comedy during recession
So how is Daniel making sure his content is fresh and is reaching his audience? Enter a new channel – podcasts.
Daniel Fernandes has been running a comedy podcast called ‘You Started It‘ where he offers his conversational style and topical jokes without having to compromise on the quality or worrying about crafting the tightest set!
“Growing up, a career in radio was something I had considered but that didn’t really materialize but podcasting now lets me live that dream.” – Daniel said.
“A podcast is easier to produce as compared to a stand-up show; where it takes months to prepare, set up and perform,” Daniel says.
“ I can drop a new podcast episode every week so that achieves the goal of being present online in between my comedy specials while giving the audience a glimpse of who I am behind the stage. We’re in season 3 now and I’m having a lot of fun with it.” – he added.
Today, “You Started It” has several episodes with appearances from fellow comedians like Kaneez Surka, Tanmay Bhat, and Radhika Vaz. Since Daniel’s style is political satire, he also had Gurmehar Kaur and Kunal Kamra on the show.
While the nation practices social distancing actively, podcasts have become a popular source of entertainment for people locked in at home. According to QZ, about 40 million people in India listen to podcasts. They call it “the rise of the intellectuals.” And that matches Daniel’s audience persona completely!
“I think anybody who likes intelligent humour with a few sprinkles of dark comedy will enjoy what I do.”
A smart audience maketh a better audience
When asked about the audience who frequent his shows, Daniel proudly says “ My audience is a young fun bunch of people that have really good taste in comedy. They’re well-read, well travelled, and avid consumers of pop culture.”
Daniel means it – he enjoys engaging with the audience at live shows and on the internet.
“My favourite experience as far as my audience is concerned is reading fan mail. I love hearing how my work has affected them in so many ways.” Daniel quips.
Like many artists, Daniel’s motivation is his audience cheering him on.
“Sometimes, you tend to lose the sense of whether what you do is making an impact, and thankfully my fans have always been there to remind me that it does. I’m very grateful to each and every one of them for supporting my work,” Daniel says.
Letting the audience ‘Pay-what-they-want’
One of the biggest things that allow an artist to keep creating new content is support from fans – both moral and monetary. In LIVE stand-up shows, you pay for a ticket and then watch the show.
But Daniel has it reversed for his audience.
Daniel Fernandes is India’s first-ever comedian to use Instamojo’s ‘pay-what-you-want’, where fans can watch his exclusive content first and if they like it, can pay whatever they want for it.
“ They (the viewers) get to decide what it is worth and this approach has been working really well for me.”
“I was aware of various online payment platforms. Instamojo was the most user friendly so I signed up. I use the platform to enable fans to pay for content (stand-up videos and the podcast) that I post online.”
Daniel Fernandes & Instamojo are so much alike!
Daniel allows/charges his viewers only after delivering his shows – videos or podcasts. Just like Instamojo!
At Instamojo, you are only charged only on a successful transaction. There are no payment set-up fees, no hidden costs, no introductory charges. You can even sign up if you don’t have a GST number!
Artists like Daniel Fernandes are doing more than just making India laugh at this dreary time – they are setting an example of how to keep your business/brand relevant even when the going is tough.
If you, like Daniel, have a dream – get started today. Do not let a pandemic be your excuse.
It most certainly is not for one of India’s finest comedians.