Bishal Mohanty, an Odisha-based stand-up comedian, shares his journey into comedy, drawing inspiration from everyday life. He values good mental health in comedy and defies the loner comedian stereotype. Bishal enjoys Odia culture, loves reading, and admires personalities like Madhusudan Das. He aspires to act in meaty roles and encourages aspiring comedians to start without waiting for the right time. Bishal envisions a prosperous Odisha and believes comedy and politics are intertwined in a democracy. He handles audience reactions gracefully and draws influence from renowned comedians while motivating younger talents.

How did you get into comedy?
I have always been the "funny guy" in my friend circle and humour has always been my defense mechanism. With the rise of stand-up comedy in India, I started developing an inclination towards this art form. Then I started searching about open mics. At that time a collective called "Khanti Katakia" was conducting one open mic in Cuttack. I participated in that mic and the journey began that day.

Where do the ideas for your content come from?
It comes from my day to day life to be honest. Life is full of comedy. It's just that you have to be attentive enough to notice it and skillful enough to express it.

Do you observe situations and create comedy or can you create comedy just in your head?
It's a mixture of both. Comics don't pull comedy out of thin air. Every situation can be funny if it's looked at from a comic's POV. My process is, I observe people, things and situation for ideas or topics. As soon as I find any idea or topic I work on it to make it funny. After years of doing stand-up comedy I have learnt the art of writing jokes. So when I notice something I can write a joke on that subject.

What are your feelings about stand-up comedy in Odisha and how do people react to it?
Stand up comedy in Odisha is still in its primitive stage. This is a relatively new art form so it's completely understandable. But the good thing is the scene is growing. Odia people love art and culture. "Utkrustha kala jouthi se Utkala". So I am pretty sure my art form will receive the same love and respect in my own State that other art forms receive very soon.

Any favourite topics which you would like to share?
There are many topics. But to know them you have to come to my show.

What is the best bit ever written by you?
My best bit is yet to be written. But from the existing bit my favourite is a bit that I have written on "Piles".

A Place or city where you loved performing and got an amazing audience?
I enjoy performing everywhere. But Berhampur is one place where where I enjoy it the most.

As a stand-up comedian, what would you say about comedy and mental health?
Good mental health is very important. Comedy in some way can help you improve you state of mind. But to be honest I am not a strong believer of the notion that "laughter is the best medicine". Laughter or humour will definitely help you. But if you need professional help you must take them. As a society we need to normalise these things.

Is it true that comedians offstage are generally loners and fairly quiet?
No. It's not true for everyone. Certainly not in my case. I am a people's person and I barely stop talking in any social gathering. So my ans is no.

What is your favourite Odia food, favourite Odia song, favourite Odia movie and why?
Food: Pakhala and machha bhaja. Song: Bata re chalu chalu, Movie: Current favourite is Daman. And I can't pin point any reason. When you like something you just like that thing. There's no point searching for reasons.

Do you read books? What is your favourite Odia book you have read?
Yes. I love reading. But sadly I haven't read as many Odia books as I should. Yajnaseni is one book that I really enjoyed.

What is your favourite tourist destination in Odisha? Tell us if you have any memories of that
I am not travel enthusiast to be honest. I need my people. You can put me in jail with my friends and I will be happy. But without them I won't enjoy even in the most beautiful place. So destination doesn't really matter to me. But I enjoy spending time in the beaches. So Puri & Berhampur are my favourite destination, you can say.

How do you spend your free time?
I don't have a fixed pattern. I do whatever I feel like doing at that moment. I feel you must be free to do anything in your free time.

Tell us about some of your favourite childhood games, memories.
I love playing cricket. Playing cricket after school with my friends was one of the most beautiful memories of my childhood.

Which Odia personality has influenced your life and why?
Madhusudan Das is someone whose stories Inspire me a lot. Being a lawyer I get fascinated by his wit and logic.

Which Odia Actors, Comedians you admire?
I am a fan of Siddhanta Mohapatra and Harihara Mohapatra is my favourite Comedian.

Do you have an interest to do acting in Odia Movies?
A strong YES. But the part has to be meaty. I love acting.

Can you talk about a time when a joke or meme you created didn't land with your audience and how you handled it?
It happens regularly. In open mics we try new jokes. Some of them work and some don't. You have to be quick on your feet to pass a funny remarkl to make the audience laugh again. The trick I use is I address it at that very moment and start making jokes about myself that how bad a comic I am. And audience love those comics who make fun of themselves.

Who are your biggest influences in the world of comedy and memes?
I am in awe of comics like Zakir Khan, Abhishek Upamanyu & Vipul Goyal . If you talk about local scene, comics like Malaya Ranjan Parida, Riten Pattnaik, Satyabrata Mohapatra & Debarchan Mishra who also happen to be my very good friends motivate me to work harder.

How do you dream of Odisha in 2050?
As the number one state of India.

Any piece of advice you would like to give to the younger generation?
There's more to life than social media. Try to live in the present. Make good friends because they will sort half of your problems. Even if they can't solve it they will make your pain bearable.

How do you differentiate your style of comedy from others?
Everyone has a different style. Your style of comedy depends mostly on your personality.

Nowadays we see many stand-up comedians using vulgar languages and adult discussions in the comedy. What’s your view on that? Don’t you think good comedy content can be done without those contents?
Comedy is subjective. What you find funny may not be funny to me. And stand-up comedy is a relatively young art form. Most of the comics are in their 20's or early 30's. Most comics write jokes on the topics they encounter in their day to day life. So for example if someone telling a story of his friends he/she will have to talk about the things friends usually discuss. And to be authentic he/she has to speak in the same way in which we usually talk to our friends. It's only about perspective. But if someone is using bad words just for attention it's not good. But having said that it's an individual art form so comics are free to speak their truth. As long as they don't break any law it should be fine.

Do you think comedy and politics should be blend together?
In world's largest democracy you can't separate politics from anything. It's not necessarily have to be party politics. Every system has its own politics. So I don't think the distance between comedy and politics is very wide.

If anyone wants to get into comedy, any tips that you would like to suggest as a professional?
Don't wait for the right time. There's no such thing. Start today. Do open mics. It's a marathon not a sprint so don't try not to get affected by initial success or failure. Keep doing. Everyone is learning so join the process and enjoy it.

One last question. What would you like to change or revert if you are given an opportunity to go back to the past?
Dhoni's run out in 2019 wc semifinal against Nz. I would like to change that.

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