Talented Vidur Kapur
was born and brought up in India, and dared to become a comedian in America! His daring was certainly worth it as this impressive resume
shows. From being a miserable closeted gay in India to become one of the most loved comedians of Indian origin in America, he has come a long way. His life is remarkable in many ways but the one that strikes me most was the fact that once he free himself of all the tentacles of living a life of lie and accept for what he was, how easy it was for him to live a happy contented life which eventually translated into success in his career. I will be very happy if I could do to myself at least one percent of what he have done for himself. In short he is my hero.
I had the opportunity recently to ask him some questions about his life, profession and beautiful guys, as a part of the promo of the CD release of 'Indian Invasion Comedy'
…. In which five comics of Indian origin came together to civilize America! The interview was published some days ago in my other blgo Body2Soul
. I hope you will enjoy reading the interview.
Body2Soul: Why stand up comedy
over other career options? Was it instinctive or a smart career move?
Vidur : Well I had already tried almost every other career option possible! I started out as a Marketing Research Manager for Blue Cross of California, then worked in Strategic Planning for another health insurance company called Kaiser Permanente and then worked for a couple of presitgious management consulting firms, Booz Allen and Hamilton and Deloitte Consulting as a strategy consultant. I also worked as a headhunter for Korn Ferry International. So basically I can say I paid my dues in the corporate world and enough to find out that although prestigious and lucrative, these were not smart career moves for me. They served a purpose in terms of teaching me more about myself and getting me a green card and ultimately citizenship in the US, but I was not happy and these were not careers that I instinctively chose. Once I started following my instincts and intuition I stumbled into stand up comedy
and have never looked back since. When I first began, I had no idea that it would develop into a career, I was just having fun and expressing myself as an artistic release, but things developed quickly and I now find myself in the midst of what has turned out to be the smartest career move for me.
Body2Soul: When did you find out you were funny and that you can make a living out of it?
Vidur : I knew I was funny a long time ago when I was a kid in India and could get family members and friends and others in splits by doing imitations and characters of my Punjabi Aunties and my school teachers all of whom were such caricatures. It never occurred to me in my wildest dreams that I could make a living or career out of it. It was after I started doing it for fun in 2002 that several opportunities came my way, the first one being “The Gurus of Comedy
” with Russell Peters in New York. Slowly but surely I learnt the craft and developed more and more material and became popular amongst South Asians at first, then the LGBT community and following that the college community and mainstream audiences. I started getting spots on television
, and being recognized by the mainstream industry as an upcoming comedian. MTV’s Logo channel had me be part of the “Outlaugh Festival” with Margaret Cho and I was also selected as one of the top four upcoming Asian comedians in North America for the “Asian Invasion Show” in Montreal’s prestigous “Just for Laughs “ Festival. These early developments indicated to me that I can make a living out of comedy
Body2Soul: You speak quite openly about yourself and about your family members. Does it bother them that they are subjects of laughing matter in your shows? Does it in any way affect your relationship with them?
Vidur : There certainly have been reactions to this. As Indians we like to be private about family matters and keep everything looking good and normal on the exterior even though our families may be falling apart at the seams with disfunction. Its important to keep a good front and to make sure that people think you are a good and respectable family. I grew up with bullshit like that as most other Indians have. The difference is that I reached a point where I felt it would be great to express my reactions to this and to talk about these hypocricies in my stand up act. That’s where the truth and the humor lies, and people can tell by the way I express myself and my humor and emotions that this is based on truth. So yes, for an Indian it is a rebellious and in your face, yet thought provoking and hilarious act. Im not afraid of offending people. I think all great comedians e.g Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, George Carlin, Bill Hicks, to name a few, have tackled controversial material which expresses their feelings and reactions to oddities about society and social stigmas. I think its time that for Indians to start laughing a bit at ourselves and lighten up and accept ourselves for who we are.
My family has had reactions. My Mom wanted me to take out references to my grandmother. But as I have explained to them, although based on reality, this is artisitic expression for me, so they don’t have to interpret it literally and to take it personally. Moreover it is sharing these experiences and my feelings towards them with audiences that creates intimacy and helps audiences to laugh, have a great time and also question their own lives at times.
Body2Soul: Any heckling trouble/experience while performing? Any words of advice to hecklers.
Vidur : Of course as comedians we have all had to deal with hecklers, its part of being a comedian. Nothing to difficult or that I remember. Basically you learn how to deal with hecklers as you move along. My word of advice to hecklers is that they thing before they heckle because Im the one with the sharp mind and a mike!..If it gets out of control..i usually say, “I work alone here on stage, just like you do....in the bedroom!’ That usually shuts them up.
Body2Soul: Indian community in America loves you obviously, but what about the American people in general?
Vidur : Absolutely! I rocked at the National Association of Campus Activities National Convention in St. Louis, MO in Feb ‘08 and have become one of the most popular comics on the US mainstream college circuit and likely to be one of the top 3 acts for US college campuses for ‘08 - ‘09. Besides that I was nominated for a “NewNowNext” award as “Brink of Fame: Comic” by MTV. I headline at NYC’s famous Gotham Comedy
Club and play on bills in NYC with upcoming headlining comics from around the country for mainstream audiences. I just taped a 20 minute special for MTV. I think as an immigrant and a foreigner who lives in the US, I have learned to related to the general American population.
Body2Soul: Any memorable/forgettable moment as a performer?
Vidur : One of my most memorable moments was actually the National College Convention where I showcased earlier this year and was so nervous right before I got on stage as I was performing before a mainly white audience of 3000 potential college bookers. The ectsatic response that I got was so amazing and overwhelming and also one of the most empowering things I have experienced in my life and in all my time in the US
Body2Soul: Your comment on the CD release of 'Indian Invasion Comedy
'. Is it any different?
Vidur : It is different in the sense that it does have some pretty diverse Indian comedians on it and not any one of us sounds like another. Its so easy to become a “Hacky” Indian comic and do very typical material that everyone would talk about. I think most of the comics on this CD have taken some risks and shared some unique perspectives.
Body2Soul: Tell us about being a gay in India and then later in America. Can you imagine an open life like you have now if you were never to be out of India?
Vidur : I love the way the question says “a gay” in India.. Because that is exactly how Indians talk...”He is a GAY”....like gays are an object! Are you “a gay”??? Okay back to the question...being gay in India was horrific for me. I only lived in India until the age of 17 but went through hell. I was a pretty flamboyant teenager and was teased intensely in school, threatened physically and emotionally, and was looked on as a disgrace to my family. I was a complete misfit, and really had no support system in India as a teen and attempted suicide several times. I then went to the UK to study with virtually no self esteem and decided to re-gain my families approval by doing really well in school. So I graduated from The London School of Economics and came to the US to do a Ph.D. In Economics at The University of Chicago. It was in Chicago that I just became so miserable in that Ph.D. Program that I finally started dealing with myself and came out. It was certainly much easier to come out as a foreign student in the US and I was far enough from my family where I didn’t have to feel the guilt on a daily basis. Once I came out and gained some self esteem and went to psychotherapy for years I was more able to hold my own and eventually found myself developing into who I am today. But yes once upon a time I was a miserable and petrified closeted Indian... I was “A Gay”
Things are different in India now and I admire the courage of gays and lesbians who have stayed on in India and who are out and proud and making a difference to opening people’s minds. If I went back to India now I could be open. Had stayed there and grown up there I really doubt that I would have survived. The issue that I address in my comedy
is not only about being gay... Its about being different, whether you are a divorced woman, a homosexual, disabled, an artist. My message is about embracing that diversity and uniqueness because that is your gift to this world.
Body2Soul: 'Standard international condom size too big for Indians' comment.
Vidur : I thinks that’s bullshit!....As far as I know Indians are pretty well hung! But then I wouldn’t really know...
Body2Soul: John Abraham shirtless or Ricky Martin shirtless?
Vidur : John Abraham any day!
Body2Soul: Most beautiful man on earth according to you.
Vidur : There are many. Clive Owens is one of them.