The unabashed and outrageous Vidur Kapur- one of the most well known Indian-American stand up comedians opens up to Udayan about his life and career…
Tell us something about your early years in India, and when and why you moved to London and then to the US?
My early years in India were mixed on one hand I look on them with nostalgia because of the intense cultural connection … The food, the pop culture, family whilst on the other hand it was torturous especially after I started entering puberty and realizing that there was no place for me in society… Once I realized what I was the hard part was that there was no one I could discuss this with , it was an inner secret that was eating me up from inside. Later on, I landed a scholarship to attend a school in Wales and that is how I left India In the late 80s to go to the UK and then after continuing my academic pursuits and hiding myself in my books ended up graduating from the London School of Economics and moving to the US. Although I may have seemed really tortured, I always had a sense of humor in India and delighted my classmates and family with outrageous impersonations of teachers family and other characters so my performer side definitely existed even then
So how did you transform yourself from a shy Indian boy into this confident and outrageously funny stand-up comedian who gets these loud cheers from packed audiences?
Believe it or not I’m still pretty shy but something happens when I get on stage I overcome it. Don’t get me wrong I’m not a complete introvert at all but I’m also not the center of the room on an everyday basis. But the comedy took a lot of work and dedication overcoming fears of what my family would think, of how people would think I’ve gone nuts which I’m sure some people in the family do. I just did it for myself I knew I had stories to share and I knew I wanted to share something with the world .
One of your famous one liners is “I’m Indian, I’m gay.. I’m screwed!”. Do you honestly think that? Was your career initially a creative outlet for the feelings you’d bottled up inside as a disturbed gay man?
Yes of course I think so. Despite the fact that Indian society has come a long way and people are more open minded LGBT people just don’t have the same opportunities open to them in the entertainment world or any other world for that matter. It’s always a struggle for us. And we have to balance being ourselves and being acceptable to the straight world . Yes it was an outlet for feeling and emotions. I had years of psychotherapy though before I started stand up spin had already felt with a lot of those feelings , but now it was finding a way to express this with humor to the world. Which was really therapeutic because then you truly let go of the pain or disturbance
So how do American audiences take your gay and Indian jokes? What about the Indian community there?
Both communities have been very receptive. I’ve built up quite a name in the Indian diaspora here and internationally and I’m hugely grateful for that. As for American audiences I play for numerous colleges and have had some TV but am by no means a household name at least as yet
When is your next India tour?
I’m not sure when the next India tour is.. right now just focusing on the US for the moment
Do share with our readers some of your favorite jokes…
One of my faves is my grandma comparing me to other relatives ” why can’t you be more like Rajiv.. why can’t you be more like Rajiv ??” I’m like Rajiv is a paedophile!! She’s like yes but at least he does it privately !! And he’s training to be a priest.
Another one is about an ugly homophobic guy (they’re always ugly calling me faggot faggot) .. Like I wanted him and I went up to him and said listen!! I’m gay … Not blind!!
Another is about this annoying Indian journalist who asked me all kind of annoying questions that were insulting and homophobic … And then she says one last question ! I said what? She’s said ” do you have a boyfriend ? I said yes! She said “is he also a gay?!” I said NO … He’s your husband!!