This political science and sociology graduate kept tickling our funny bones throughout the conversation. Every issue that came up, from the ones on a lighter note to the serious ones, all were docked, mocked, cooked and looked in a very positive way. It never got cheesy or smoky or spooky or soapy! Presenting to you an interview of the famous anaconda biter, writer, producer, voice over, cracker, stand-up comedian, the one and only, the Gifted, Sundeep Rao.(Do Read Sundeep Rao Biography)
Going to Girl’s School
My schooling was pretty much in Bangalore. I started in a girl’s school! Not deliberately. It had co-ed only till 4thgrade. After some school hopping, I wanted to go abroad for studies and my visa got rejected. So I spent an exotic filler year at Jain College before moving to Wales. What did I do with that degree in my life? No idea!
If you read between the lines, all visa rejects become either good stand-up comedians (like member of KYS Board of Advisors, Comedian Praveen Kumar)or speakers or orators. I am not referring to Modi though!
Losing Vision in Childhood
When people ask me on how I lost my eye sight, I throw up random jokes just to scare them off, like- bitten by an anaconda or vice versa, or even that I over-enjoyed breast feeding!
On a serious note, it just happened when I was 9 years old. One day when I woke up, I just couldn’t see. My doctors from Bangalore and Chennai diagnosed it as Juvenile Macular Degeneration (Macular degeneration is a deterioration or breakdown of the eye’s macula. The macula is the part of the retina that is responsible for your central vision, allowing you to see fine details clearly.). It pretty much took away my central vision. But my peripheral vision is alright. In simple words- I cannot see straight, but can see from the sides.
Did My Life Change?
I haven’t consciously noted down anything. When you’re put into situations like these, you can’t take a step back and analyse on how to approach the problem. That’s the beauty of life. I just behaved like a normal kid would do. Good thing is that it didn’t bother me much. I wanted to live like any other kid- climb trees, eat chocolates, and play games! I learned to accept it and embrace it.
As I hit puberty, like everyone, I also became self conscious, and started realizing that I may not be able to do certain things which guys at my age would do, like- checking out girls! I became self aware as I grew older, and understood how society works.
Out of Sight
When I started stand-up in the year 2010, I wasn’t comfortable doing jokes on my life or things related to me. Then I wondered why I should be someone else on stage, when I can be myself. I was convinced that this was my show and my only opportunity to tell people who I was. Being on stage is my workplace. Hence I wrote “Out of Sight”.
Sounding Like Saif Ali Khan from Humshakals
Is that a movie? I hear it’s a disaster! If I ever happen to meet him, I want to tell him –“Do whatever you want, but just don’t mess up my career!” Another aspect, I don’t sound constipated, please! (laughs)
I was doing Out Of Sight in Pune, when Sudha Menon read the media coverage of the show and called me one fine afternoon to explain about the book. I was sitting in a bar with a friend when the call came and I thought I should drink more after the call!
It was supposed to be a half an hour meeting, but it went on for 3 hours. Recorder was doing its work and I had a great chat with Sudha. Next day Ferose called me up for India Inclusion Summit, and spoke about how I, as a stand-up comedian, could help spread awareness. It’s a great honor to be in this book, Gifted, and it’s even more delightful for the fact that all proceedings of the book go to Enable India, which works on employability for people with disabilities.
Ideas: Ideals: India
People ask me my experience working at a software giant- essence of that story is that it was shit! Work I was doing was crap, and FYI, PS, CC and FYA all added up to my agony. I did a year of comedy when I was working there. I then got my first break with Comedy Store, passed on the pink slip to my boss, and took the leap of faith. Meanwhile, I tried doing radio also, but got out of it soon, thanks to their never-ending guidelines.
I had this belief that I would do well being a comedian. My content being original, always helped and I ve maintained that till date, I’ve never copied. Conviction is all you need to start and get going! I inspire myself. Do something that suits you.
Everyone hopes the scenario in India improves with respect to disability. Sympathy is the last thing you need. I don’t see it going anywhere if you just keep hoping. I’m sure books like Gifted will build atleast a small and beautiful population of people who basically care; that will groom those respectable citizens who will rather stand in a queue instead of pushing to get through!
Rapid Round, Ready Steady Po!
Saif Ali Khan
I don’t have Pataudi nose. I have mine!
Comedian Praveen Kumar
He’s much funnier. He is “The” funny Leone!
Rao. Got this nickname at school. Nothing to do with going to prison, bending down and dropping the soap!
Do read more about Sundeep Rao in Gifted, a new book, his is one of the 15 inspiring stories that is featured in the book. You can grab your copy via any online retailers or pick the book from leading book stores. KYS is supporting the cause wholeheartedly. This is a humble step in our journey to build an inclusive society.