Laughter Is: An Interview with Kenny Sebastian – The Most Interesting Person In The Room
Kenny Sebastian has had one heck of a fascinating childhood. Born to a father in the Navy, Kenny grew up travelling across various cities in India, never staying in one place for too long. Some might see that as a problem, not being able to put down roots in any particular place, but for the Indian comedian, it’s an experience that’s only led to his honing his keen sense of observation for years, indirectly leading to his success today on television and stage.
After playing to full houses the last time he was here two years ago, Kenny is back for another round of rip-roaring comedy this week as he brings his unique blend of humour and music, discussing how life has changed for him since turning 28. Prior to his show on Friday, we spoke to the man about his comedic sensibilities, his life, and how exactly someone becomes “The Most Interesting Man In The Room”. Read the interview in full below:
Bakchormeeboy: Hi Kenny! You were last in Singapore two years ago and saw success with your sold out shows. What’s changed in your life since then, and what can we expect from your show this time around?
Kenny: I have grown a lot since then! As a person and as a performer. I think my performance style has changed. Also this special is much much tighter and connected. The last time I did Singapore, it was a blast to perform to such an enthusiastic audience! I hope that happens again. It’s always a pleasure to get to be on stage and entertain. I have an entirely new hour and new music bits in the show!
Bakchormeeboy: Growing up with your father in the navy, you often moved around a lot as a child and experienced various cultures and people from a young age. How would you say this informed your comedic senses or the way you see the world today?
Kenny: It mainly made me realise that we all are the same. I couldn’t see the differences anymore but what I could see is the things that are similar. Humour also is a very universal emotion, it connects people who didn’t thing could connect, also travelling makes you very good at adapting to situations. I developed a thick skin because of that and learned to become a chameleon in most situations.
Bakchormeeboy: You started your YouTube channel way back in 2008, and today, you’re still actively uploading videos to it regularly, and still receiving millions of views. Would you say that videos are the best way of getting discovered even today? Do you prefer working on videos, or live stand-up?
Kenny: Both are actually completely different professions. It’s just fantastic that both of them go hand in hand and support each other. YouTube for me has always been my first love and I absolutely love the opportunity it provides. It’s very democratic and lends itself to audiences that are so specific. I feel any type of art out there makes new people discover you. Also in terms of reach, you can beat YouTube. I also work really hard on releasing content that is worth those million views. You can’t take that for granted ever!
Bakchormeeboy: Was there any point in your career where you doubted yourself and thought ‘maybe I might be better off doing something else instead’? How did you pick yourself up and get back on track from there?
Kenny: No. I was born confident.
Haha of course I did. I still do. Stand up comedy is such a brutal profession. So is being a YouTuber. In a regular job you have to impress just your peers and your boss, in my field it’s millions of people constantly judging you and having no idea of the effort that goes in.
Over the last 9 years, I have released 41 Stand up clips for free on YouTube, a stand up special for Amazon Prime Video, a sketch comedy show with Kanan Gill, an improvised tv show for Comedy Central and Amazon Prime Video and done two seasons of a reality comedy show. Adding to that, I just got a Netlfix Special this year!
All this happened by hours and hours of failing and working on that failure constantly.
Bakchormeeboy: You’re known for your observational humour laced with a little weirdness and a little darkness. What’s your process like coming up with comedic material and testing to see if it works?
Kenny: It’s just regular open mics, if you stop doing bad rooms, tough rooms or small rooms, you Tend to lose perspective on what a good joke is. I also constantly and consciously develop my style. It’s key that I get stage time. Performing and writing a one hour live show is hard cause the audience demands the best they can get. That takes time and effort.
Bakchormeeboy: What’s the secret to becoming ‘The Most Interesting Person In The Room’?
Kenny: I guess having the courage to put yourself out there and not getting discouraged when you fail in front of 100s of people. The moment you think you can’t get better, that’s the day you truly fail.
Kenny Sebastian: The Most Interesting Person In The Room plays on 22nd November 2019 at the Shine Auditorium. Tickets available from SISTIC