Vidur Kapur
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Vidur Kapur

New York, New York, United States | SELF

New York, New York, United States | SELF
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"The Comic Hero: Vidur Kapur"

He makes fun of his own sexuality and the consequences he had to face when it finally came ‘out’ that he was the first gay Indian stand-up comedian. But that doesn’t deter Vidur Kapur from laying himself bare before his audience to amuse them. Vidur performed at Roxy, for The Park Festival, with a bit of apprehension that the Kolkata crowd is ‘a bit too intellectual’ but in the end he left the crowd in splits.
Being a stand-up comedian is anyways a difficult proposition but Vidur gave up his white-collar job to take up what he calls his true calling. “Comedy is a means of self expression. Through it I make an attempt to express myself to the world and share my thoughts, feelings and emotions through the medium of jokes and laughter. Laughter breaks barriers. Stand-up comedy is an ideal way to address controversial issues that might be very difficult to hear otherwise,” says Vidur, adding, “You can actually say anything and get away with it making your audience laugh at the same time.”
Vidur has managed to tickle the funny bone in the audience, in his treatment of social issues. “In India, as well as in the US, being gay is still an issue. So I talk about it, I talk about my sexuality, and I talk about my personal relationships as well,” says Vidur, who makes fun of himself, his partner’s Jewish family, as well as his own Punjabi grandmother. Though most of them are not true, some of it is truly hilarious. “The trick is to take real-life characters and make them larger than life,” he adds.
A graduate from London School of Economics, Vidur went to University of Chicago. But he was never at peace doing a recruiter’s job in one of the top notch companies in New York. He took stand-up comedy classes as a hobby, but in 2007 took the “most difficult leap and became a stand-up comedian.”
He has opened for Russell Peters, did shows for the Indian communities abroad, took part in Just for Laughs in Montreal. The MTV awarded him the Brink of Fame award — just to name a few of the accolades he received. But what changed his career was one show at a university, which had nearly 3000 students as his audience. After the show, he received 150 bookings, which sustained him for the rest of the year.
It was never an easy thing to choose. “Being an immigrant, that too in New York, you can’t be unemployed, not receiving regular paychecks at the end of the month. But I took that risk, and it has paid off,” he says. “However, I have managed to overcome the challenges. The advantages of the honesty and openness are that it makes me stand out and be unique,” he adds.
After touring the country, Vidur will be off to West Asia, where he will be performing for the first time, as well as another six shows in Trinidad. “I don’t even know what I am going to put on there,” says Vidur, who has realised after touring almost half the world that all jokes don’t make you laugh. - The Bengal Post

"Vidur Kapur: Closets and Comedy"

When Vidur Kapur emerges from behind the curtain at Museum Theatre in his
silver-studded Louboutin sneakers, the audience’s unruffled response seems
to unnerve him. He attempts a second entrance, and this one goes a little
better – still, the New York-based, Delhi-raised openly gay comedian doesn’t
disguise his apprehension. He tests the waters with a couple of tepidly
polite Tambrahm jokes, and gingerly eases his way into an oeuvre of material
revolving mostly around his sexuality, family and ethnicity… and warms up
when he realises that contrary to what he had been led to expect, in
Chennai, the audience was already on his side.

In conversation the day after the show, he admits that Chennai surprised
him: “I was actually quite impressed with the openness here because
everybody was like ‘Chennai’s so conservative, Chennai’s so conservative’. I
realized the moment I got on stage that this audience was cold, I wouldn’t
hit the ground running with them. They were reserved – ‘let’s see how you’re
going to win us over’. But even the really edgy jokes got an enormous
response. They were willing to go with it if it was funny.” Furthermore – in
the audience were numerous members of the LGBT community, and the evening
concluded with a special fashion show by transgendered models. This was also
the only Indian city (Kapur has toured Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata in the
past few weeks as part of The Park’s New Festival) in which members of the
audience responded in the affirmative when he asked if anyone gay was

His amazement is understandable, given his difficult history with this
country. Kapur’s honours now include a nomination for a “NewNowNext” award
from MTV networks, being named one of India Tribune’s “Top 31 Personalities
of Indian Americans”, and appearances in a variety of major American TV
networks, including NBC, FOX, MTV and VH1. But when he first left India to
pursue tertiary studies, he did so having been deeply traumatised by his
experience of being a gay teenager in India. “When I began to comprehend my
sexuality, it had a horribly depressing effect on me. I communicated it to
my parents and they were very disapproving. I was extremely flamboyant in
school and it created a lot of hostility and hatred toward me. So when I got
a scholarship to go to Wales, I left very battered, and at that young age, I
made the decision to never never return to India.”

He survived at least two suicide attempts during this time.

Still, moving to the West did not solve all his problems. “Because of my
experience in India, I decided to go back into the closet, and buried myself
in academia so as to get all the approval that I had been denied while
growing up,” he continues. He went to LSE and the University of Chicago,
then threw himself into the corporate world for many years, again suffering
a series of emotional breakdowns. “You have people who are closeted artists
and photographers and so on,” he says. For this reason, he sees “coming-out”
not as a one-time thing, but as a process by which one emerges as an
individual, regardless of sexual orientation. In his case, this meant
acceptance of himself first as a gay man, and then as a performer.

The turning point came for Kapur when he saw famed comedian Margaret Cho’s
show, I’m The One That I Want. Cho, like him, struggled with various issues,
including her sexuality, body dysmorphia and being from a racial minority in
America. “It was really about her owning who she is and reclaiming herself
as a person,” says Kapur of his inspiration. “It moved me. It was what made
me want to do stand-up comedy. It was funny but it was also more.”

Almost in pattern with the pain out of which his individuality emerged, his
career also began on a double-edged note. The first comedy class he took was
on the day before 9/11 – “and there was this strange experience of New York
being in shambles and nobody being able to laugh the next day”.

But this surreal scenario dovetails quite perfectly into Kapur’s life story,
for this a comedian who isn’t afraid to be very serious in person, who
doesn’t mind letting an audience see his trepidation, and whose own path has
been marked with severe depression, about which he is unblinkingly open.
Regardless of how one takes his comedy routine – which has its highs and
lows, and a fluctuating energy – it’s difficult not to admire his courage.

Kapur’s experiences of alienation, struggle and eventual success seemed
tailor-made for sex columnist Dan Savage’s new “It Gets Better” campaign,
which endeavours to reach despairing gay teens lacking support within their
own communities via the wonders of Youtube. Young people are also one of his
primary audience demographics – he is one of the most popular comedians on
the American college circuit, and has performed at over 150 campuses around
the USA. Asked what he would say if he was a contributor to Savage’s
campaign, he acknowledged, “It definitely is true that it gets better. As
you get older, you realize that nothing is permanent. Rejection from family
and from friends is not permanent. You can get past it. You have the power
to create your own life.”

“I was born in India as one of the ‘haves’,” admits Kapur. “So I had the
luxury to go abroad. Those who don’t have the wherewithal to do that will
have a much harder struggle. But if you hang in there and have hope and
faith you can get through it. Pain and joy are a part of life. But there is
also joy, and great things to be attained.”

Now happily settled in New York City with his longtime partner, fully
ensconced in an entertainment career that takes him all over the world,
Vidur Kapur is not just one face of a changing diaspora – a diaspora that
has permeated the American media in such a way as to also give us the likes
of Russell Peters, Mindy Kaling, Vijai Nathan and Kal Penn – but also a
reflection of a changing India. The teenaged Kapur might never have been
able to imagine the laughs and warm reception that his performance in
Chennai received last week, but the fact that it did is both evidence of our
increasingly more open hearts and minds, and a portent of hope for all the
closeted people out there – gay or otherwise.

- New Indian Express

"The Stand Up Comedy by Vidur Kpaur at the Park was a Rib Tickling Experience"

H is sense of humour is bizarre, breezy and buckling. You are in splits
every five minutes but then he waits for the laughter to subdue before he
gets on to something that could make you scream in merriment! That's Vidur
Kapur for you!

You can be shocked or sober to hear him say time and again that he was born
gay and has ‘boyfriends' as varied as they can be. Every experience in life
has a comic angle to it if you can only see it in that light. The incidents
Vidur picks up and pokes fun at could be figuring in anyone of our lives.
Right from President Obama's colour to his own grandmother's racial
prejudices, from Indian inhibitions to Western openness, from Chinese
massage parlours to regional variations in English language, from eating to
drinking to other natural ways of waste matter disposal of the body,
everything comes under the satirical scanner.

There is an underlying message in some of his jokes just as there is a tinge
of porno. He openly asks the audience to retain Indian individuality and
identity especially when westward bound. Anything Indian to the Western eye
is natural and original so that makes good business sense says our Vidur.
You can just about market yoga with a sprinkling of the western ingredients
and it will be lapped up. And you turn into a billionaire. How true! Some
stupid, senseless questions or comments we encounter in day to day life also
invite banter. Culled out of real life, this stand-up comedy is refreshing
and not cliché. The casual manner in which he whips up something out of
ordinary circumstances adding a bit of his American experiences makes the
show original and hilarious. The best part of Indians is that they start
appreciating and respecting our culture only when they reside in a foreign
land. So it is with Vidur Kapur. He counsels us amid humour not to ape the
west-just as we have our foibles so do the westerners and so do everybody

The show was hosted by The Park as part of its festival series. - The Hindu

"A Rib Tickling Take on Life in America"

A rib-tickling take on life in America

Vidur Kapur is a 37-year-old graduate from the London School of Economics
who also holds a Ph.D from the University of Chicago. He was very much the
stereotypical nerdy geeky desi student who would have done extremely well in
the the corporate sector, except destiny had other plans for him. Vidur
chose to make people laugh for a living.

The comedian who was selected to participate at the prestigious Just For
Laughs comedy festival in Montreal as one of the four Asian comics from
North America., performed in Hyderabad at the Park Hotel’s cultural
festival, that sees an array of shows staged by upcoming global artistes.

Vidur’s act was a rib-tickling one. Risque, sarcastic and light years from
political correctness, most of his jokes were from his own personal
experiences of being a gay, brown man in a white dominated society and the
racism and bigotry Indians have to go through to fit in the United States.

He also targeted the sexual taboos prevalent in India making wisecracks that
in spite of the Kamasutra, Indians are strangely tight-lipped when it comes
to sex.

The audience was thoroughly entertained as one could hear regular bursts of
laughter at his wisecracks.

He was candid and unself-conscious in his presentation and it helped that he
was drawing from his own experiences. The New York Comedy Festival’s NY
Funniest Stand-Up Comic finalist managed to tickle the funny bones of the
audience here.

- The Deccan Chronicle

"Witty Take"

From out of nowhere, stand-up comedy is becoming a trend in India. The
latest to arrive is Vidur Kapur. He is gay and he is proud to be a comedian.
By Mathures Paul

The beer-guzzling address in London that Don Ward turned into an institution
for stand-up comedians is enjoying a steady flow of patrons at its new
property in Mumbai. It has, in fact, become a new landmark in Lower Parel.
Comedy Store is just one of the outcomes of a growing industry in India ~
stand-up comedy. There have always been comedians like Johnny Lever and
before him Johnny Walker (born Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi) but they have
always been part of the Bollywood brigade which was required for a simple
task ~ provide a few laughs or be the idiotic sidekicks to heroes. With its
roots in the UK (began in the music halls of the 18th and 19th centuries)
and the USA (vaudeville, minstrel shows, etc.), stand-up comedy in India is
fast becoming a favourite alternative to spending time at “music pubs” in
the evening. Comedians of Indian origin who left the country several years
ago are returning. There is Papa CJ who has an MBA from the University of
Oxford and the Dehradun-born Vir Das (top, right) who spent four years at
Knox College, Illinois and a year at Harvard University. Das is now pursuing
two successful careers ~ one in Bollywood and the other as stand-up
comedian. The “classy group” form a perfect foil to the new desi acts like
Sunil Pal (the 2005 winner of The Great Indian Laughter Challenge) and Raju
Srivastav. The Indian television space now offers a very good alternative to
Jay Leno in the form of the rolly-polly but happy Cyrus Brocha, who earlier
had an excellent run as VJ. Millions tune into The Week That Wasn’t (on
CNN-IBN) every week to watch him crack jokes while playfully sporting a
triple chin.
So when NBC’s Stand Up For Diversity New York finalist turned up at Roxy in
The Park, a large crowd was expected to turn up. And they did. Even though
he has been living in America for several years, the Calcutta-born is proud
of his Indian roots. And more importantly, he is proud to be gay. He doesn’t
want to shy away from the description that Ego, The Magazine offered to its
readers in America several years back ~ “the comic laureate of gay desis
“I always bring up the topic during my comedy routines. Homosexuality is
rarely discussed in India but times are changing. Stand-up comedy is about
perspective and truths. I simply lay down my cards correctly,” said Vidur
Kapur in his interview with The Statesman.
His routine is generally based on a simple social commentary of a one-man
culture clash. Born in Calcutta, raised in New Delhi, he went on to earn a
degree from the London School of Economics and PhD coursework from the
University of Chicago. Instead of giving into demands of a typical Indian
family living abroad ~ arranged marriages, etc ~ he became a victim of “gay
fashion” in America. After a brief career in an internationally known firm,
he fell for the comedy club routine that New York is famous for.
“Comedy clubs these days have variety. Earlier blacks and whites were the
only faces in comedy clubs. Now there are Latin Americans and members of the
second- and third-generation immigrant families. The mainstream college
crowd demands diverse voices. Even before George Bush, the scene was
But the recent economic downturn hasn’t been favourable for comedy clubs. “A
few went down but the big ones are still standing. Look at Caroline’s. It’s
never easy to be a stand-up comedian. Sometimes clubs have only 20-25 people
and sometimes more than 200. Having a small crowd is heartbreaking and at
the same time challenging, for one needs to put in more creative effort. The
same amount of work needs to be put in.”
Unlike his international routine, Kapur’s India act has a local flavour.
“Like the obsession with cellphones, eating out, etc. I gather a lot from my
experiences. But it’s putting bits together that’s back-breaking. The final
act needs to be spontaneous.”
And does he confine himself to a room before shows? “Nothing like that. I
don’ mind talking to people. Preparations are done much earlier.”
India’s tryst with stand-up comedians is a new one but already people like
Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood (both of Whose Line Is It Anyway? fame) have
visited India. Meanwhile, Papa CJ and Vir Das are busy touring India trying
to keep corporate clients in good humour. They have no problem in wearing a
smile while saying the darnest of things as long as the audience laps it up.
Their lives are a collection of moments that they think are funny. Applause. This e-mail address is being protected from
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- The Statesman

"Listen and Laugh"

I was born premature. The nurse handed me to my mother and said congratulations it’s a homo,” is how Calcutta-born New Yorker and stand-up comedian Vidur Kapur introduced himself at Roxy on September 11. The comic act was part of The Park’s New Festival organised by Prakriti Foundation over the last weekend.

In zipped-up skin-tight leather pants and metal-studded sneakers, you could hardly tell he was a comedian before he bowled you over with his humour. “I was miserable in the corporate world in New York for 10 years before I finally tapped into the creative pool of the city. I started taking comedy classes and found myself loving it,” confessed Vidur.

He received very audible appreciation from the audience in Roxy as hoots and claps followed his scathingly sarcastic jokes. “My mother and grandmother have become central characters of my jokes. They did feel awkward about it at first, but now it’s pretty flattering for them,” he added.

Mimicking south Indians, Bengalis, Delhiites, Punjabis, Jews, Americans, feminists and homosexuals, Vidur spared nobody. To keep the session interactive, he threw some bold questions to the floor like “Anyone had phone sex?” or “Any gay people here?”, to which nobody in the crowd owned up, much to his dismay. “You Bengalis love to be so politically correct,” he shot back. In a “committed relationship” with his Jewish boyfriend for seven years, Vidur made digs about his partner’s reactions to Slumdog Millionaire, which had the audience in splits. “Homosexual or not, Indians are not even considered sexual in America with their varied accents, but you should see the Spanish, they are considered the sexiest everywhere,” he chuckled.

Vidur hinted at a social message when he made fun of north Indian men who “dominate their wives”. “While the main aim of my jokes is to entertain crowds, there is always a political message behind my social commentary and I hope people wake up to that,” said the young comedian. Issues or people that influence his life like politics, pop culture, society, his family and homosexuals feature in his act, so he draws from personal experiences. “The best part about stand-up comedy is being able to connect with the audience, form a bond and simply change the mood in a room,” he signs off.

The Park’s New Festival started with Preethi Athreya’s dance recital Sweet Sorrow at Max Mueller Bhavan on September 10 and ended with Mahmood Farooqui’s narrative. Reviving the lost art of Dastangoi (storytelling) at the Galaxy Banquet on September 12, Farooqui, the co-director of Peepli Live, narrated the tale of Tilism-e-Hoshruba. Giving a brief introduction, to help understand the form better, he said, “Dastangoi dates back to Akbar’s times and the emperor had taken a keen liking to it.” Cocktails and a traditional Mughlai dinner served as the grand finale to the festival.

Pictures by Bishwarup Dutta

Radhika Sen - Calcutta Telegraph

"New York to New Delhi: Stand Up Comedian Casts Laughing Spell"

New York to New Delhi: Stand-up comedian casts laughing spell (With Images)

By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) Do you know why Vatsyayan wrote "Kamasutra"? To sell
scented oils to white people! Or so says popular New York-based stand-up
comedian Vidur Kapur, who will have you in splits with more quirky answers
like this one.

Originally a Delhi boy, Kapur's comedy is a heart-wrenching mix of
theatrics, pathos, irony, self-depreciating humour, ready wit, gentle
ribbing and scathing sarcasm that comments on social realities and pokes fun
at the self while at the same time laying bare human frailties.

"It is the way comedy is moving now," Kapur told IANS on the sidelines of a
show here.

He is in India for a week.

In India, comedy is growing as a genre, he observed. "It has a market.
People react to comic acts. The audience is hungry for new faces and new
issues," he said.

Contemporary comedy is a reflection of the changing society, Kapur said.

An example: "Ten years ago, the Indian dream was, 'We will go to New York
one day and see the Empire State Building'. But India has changed. Now they
say, 'We will go to New York one day, buy the Empire State Building; and
name it Rangarajan Niwas..." he chuckled.

The young comedian of Indian origin, who has performed single comedy shows
across the US and the globe - breaching the colour and sexuality divide -
has been described by Fox television as a "comedian to remember".

Kapur is gay. And he has something to say on that too. "I was born
premature. The nurse handed me to my mother and said, 'Congratulations, it
is a homo...".

"I have been in a relationship with a Jewish New Yorker for the last seven
years. It is like 35 years in a straight relationship," he said, casting a
laughing spell on the audience at The Park New Festival of Emerging Art and
Culture in the capital over the weekend.

He was among the top 10 finalists on "New York's top 10 Funniest Stand-Ups",
a part of New York's Comedy Festival and a finalist for NBC's "Stand Up for
Diversity" initiative.

An alumnus of St Columba's School in New Delhi, Kapur went to study at the
London School of Economics and at Chicago University.

"But I did not like my job as a management consultant and head hunter. I
worked for the meanest and most racist woman on earth..." he said with a
comic twist.

He threw it up to become a comedian after a brief stint in a comedy school.

"I think stand-up comedy - single act - has arrived in the mainstream as
legitimate theatrical performance. It has grown as a genre because of the
internet which has given comedy an universality. I have a large following on
the internet," Kapur told IANS.

He has been influenced by the likes of African-American comedian Richard
Pryor and stand-up American comic artist and satirist William Melvin "Bill"
Hicks. "They pushed the boundary and spoke of stuff that has never been
talked about," he said.

"I have to talk to people about my sexuality in my acts have to be
honest in comedy. In India, I have to educate the audience that does not
know what to expect...," Kapur said.

The performer is heading to the Middle East for a multi-city tour beginning
with Bahrain this week.

- Letest

"Punchlines and Prejudice"

Where are funny gay men in professional comedy? Heterosexual men have
dominated the field for ages. Straight women from Phyllis Diller to Sarah
Silverman have landed big audiences. Lesbians like Ellen DeGeneres and Wanda
Sykes have achieved significant comedic success and mainstream acceptance.
However, queer men struggle for audiences and industry acknowledgement. Even
renowned gay male comics often aren’t most famous for stand-up. For example,
Bob Smith receives more attention for his books than his comedy, and Scott
Thompson is for “The Kids in the Hall” more than for his solo humor.

Why is comedy success so elusive for gay men, who are often noted for their
searing sense of humor? Often, prejudice is the culprit. Not only must queer
male comedians be funny, but they also face a unique mix of bigotry and
indifference. They deal with hateful homophobia from heterosexuals,
surprising apathy from gay men and general rejection from the humor
industry. These negative attitudes make queer male comics’ struggles for
achievement especially challenging. To better understand these unique
struggles, we chatted with a cross-section of New York’s gay stand-up
comedians to get their insight on homophobia in the comedy world.

While obnoxious hecklers occasionally bother all comedians, some enjoy
taunting gay humorists with nasty anti-gay insults. Indian comedian Vidur
Kapur has experienced such homophobia not just in real life but also online.
“I’ve received various slurs posted to my YouTube videos,” Kapur says.
“People have written, ‘Kill the faggot,’ ‘You’re a shame on all Indians’,
and other attacks. Also, once an audience member heckled me as a
‘hijra’—eunuch or castrated men who dance at Indian weddings. And after
another show, an uneducated Indian guy addressed me as a woman to ridicule
me. Such attitudes are hard to face, but they reinforce why it’s important
to be out wherever I perform.”

Other comedians can also be homophobic. Entertainers may get stereotyped as
liberals, but they aren’t strangers to bigotry. Actually, prejudiced
comments have often been aired openly in the envelope-pushing humor world,
where jokes get judged on laughs more than political correctness. Celebrity
comics like Andrew Dice Clay and Eddie Murphy built their careers partially
on anti-gay routines. And while professional homophobia is less tolerated
today, it isn’t unheard of (remember the endless Brokeback jokes on
late-night TV?).

Comic Shawn Hollenbach has experienced bigotry from colleagues. “I remember
one show when a female stand-up talked about her hairstyle,” Hollenbach
says. “I followed up her comment by saying, ‘Your hairstyle is
uninspired’…and someone shouted, ‘Faggot!’ I recognized the voice as that of
an unfunny comedian who was there, and called him on it after the show. He
insisted that he didn’t say the slur, and then tried to convince me that he
hadn’t been talking about me. I lost what respect I had for him after that.”

Homophobic reactions aren’t always limited to one person. Entire audiences
can project anti-gay attitude even though general society has grown more
progressive. Gerard Mignone has performed for such a homophobic crowd. “I
once did a gig in a conservative area of Queens,” Mignone says. “The silent
reaction I received made it obvious that no one wanted to listen to a gay
comedian. The only person laughing was the person who booked me. That’s the
closest I’ve come to performing in a stereotypical red state, but I consider
it a character-building experience!”

And heterosexuals aren’t the only ones hampering funny gay male performers.
Other homosexual men surprisingly ignore queer male stand-ups. Think how
many funny females resonate deeply with gay men, from Joan Rivers to Chelsea
Handler. Next, ponder how many drag queens gays celebrate, from Lady Bunny
to Ongina. Finally, name male comedians who receive similar respect from
homosexual men. That list is noticeably shorter.

Sex may explain gay men’s disconnect with their own comics. Men generally
seem visually oriented, so their attention may go to male comedians’ looks
first and jokes second. Adam Sank relates to this sex-comedy conflict. “When
I first did stand-up at a gay show, I felt like they hated me since my jokes
got little reaction,” Sank says. “I talked about this with my
then-therapist. He asked what I wore onstage, and I told him jeans and a
tight T-shirt. He suggested I wear baggy clothes because maybe the crowd saw
me sexually without listening to me. I was dubious, but wore a baggy
button-down shirt for my next gay performance. Surprisingly, the audience
connected much more with my jokes, and I realized that gay men separate
their sex and comedy.”

No matter why queer men dismiss their own stand-ups, it equals a dire lack
of attention. Gay people enjoy increased social acceptance but haven’t
achieved true equality. And just as medieval jesters brought uncomfortable
truths to light with humor, queer male comedians can reveal community
struggles—if they get heard.

Dave Rubin, whose taken his humor to internet radio on The Six Pack,
believes homosexual male humorists can raise issues. “Gays somehow have been
trained to only laugh at old women and drag queens,” Rubin says. “It’s 2010
and the biggest show on Logo is a drag contest. I’ve got nothing against
drag queens, but there are plenty of other stories that need to be told.”
Rubin points to comics from other traditionally oppressed groups for
guidance, saying, “Black comedy can show how gay comedy should evolve.
Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock [and] Dave Chappelle all
spoke about their unique experiences and hit people in hugely different
ways. Gay comics and our audiences both have to do better. We’re one of the
last unequal groups in America. I do think we’re getting better, though.”

One reason this might be a challenge is the humor industry itself. Many
comedy clubs provide queer comics with significantly fewer bookings and less
promotion than mainstream performers. Some venues ghettoize homosexual male
stand-ups in gay-specific shows not advertised to general audiences.
Similarly, some comedy clubs book limited numbers of queer male performers,
then tell other gay male joke tellers that they can’t book others because
they “already have a gay man on the bill” as if queer performers are
interchangeable. And some clubs don’t feature gay male stand-ups at all.

Comic Scott Ryan has experienced comedy club discrimination. “I feel it’s
very hard for openly gay comics to get ‘passed,’ or put on a club’s call
list for paid spots in shows,” Ryan says. “I got a booked audition for Last
Comic Standing, was nominated as a “Brink of Fame Comic” by Logo and have
been featured on here!’s Hot Gay Comics. However, I’m still not passed in
any major mainstream clubs. It’s disheartening to only get booked for gay
shows when I know straight crowds love me, also. I’d like the opportunity to
show club owners that I can appeal to various audiences!”

Such exclusion of homosexual male stand-ups in comedy clubs may stem from
pure homophobia. It also may develop from a self-fulfilling prophecy that
audiences won’t follow funny gay men, leading to them not receiving
bookings—and thereby limiting their ability to build followings.

However, stand-ups like Brad Loekle, host of therapy’s Electro Shock Therapy
Comedy Hour, do find fans when they get to perform. Loekle sees more
openness from the average person than many comedy clubs. “Working as a comic
commentator for TruTV’s The Smoking Gun Presents brings me all types of
fans,” Loekle says. “I receive positive e-mails from blue-collar Christians
who’ve never met a gay person and young gay people because being on TV makes
me seem like family. I see more prejudice and ‘Old World’ thinking in clubs.
Comedy shows often seem segregated to me, with nights for gay, women, black
or Latino comics as a novelty—especially since these venues don’t
necessarily feature such performers regularly. I think our culture is ahead
of the clubs and is ready for more diverse comedy bills.”

Why do gay male comics persevere with such prejudice? And why do more new
faces pop up on the circuit each year? Basically, their passion for humor
triumphs all. Dedicated comedians focus on generating laughter. Those
lacking this drive don’t last. The obstacles gay comedians face definitely
provide extra discouragement. However, they refuse to let the adversities

For comedian Michael Keren its part of his identity. “Being a comedian is
very important to me. I list it first when describing myself—ahead of
important descriptions like gay, Jewish, formerly obese, psychologist and
partnered. It’s how I handle emotions, opinions and people. It doesn’t pay
my bills yet, but…comedy has changed my life.”

The issues threatening gay male stand-ups may make hiding in the closet or a
gay caricature seem safer. However, such dishonesty stunts creativity and
connection. Real humor stems from honestly relating with others about
genuine experiences, and this is impossible when constantly guarding

Eddie Sarfaty, author of Mental: Funny in the Head, follows this
philosophy: “I’ve never denied or ignored my sexuality in my act. I
represent myself as a real, well-rounded gay person. I definitely never
closet myself or act like a stereotype—even supposedly socially acceptable
ones like Will & Grace’s Jack. If you try to be a type, all you’ll ever be
is a version of someone else. Let yourself be shaped by your experiences on
and offstage and you’ll be more unique.” N

Visit,,,,, (Dave Rubin), and (Eddie Sarfaty) for more info on the comics in this

- NEXT Magazine

"Indian Men: No Laughing Matter"

Indian Men: No Laughing Matter
Jaspreet Pandohar
August 14, 2010
Are Asian men funny? Well they’re comical, that’s for sure!

Is it just me or are Asian men just not that funny? Maybe it my age or the
social circles I mix in. Or perhaps the fact I grew up watching genius stand
up American comedians like Jackie Mason, Richard Pryor and home grown
talents, such as Dave Allen, Mike Yarwood and Billy Connolly that I expect a
guy to be funny. That my father loves to tell a joke or two probably added
to my fascination for comedy early on.

But why is it that so many of my single female friends, like me, complain
that we rarely meet Asian men who can make us laugh? Sure they can dish out
the odd wise crack or juvenile joke, but sadly ‘blokey’ gags about dizzy
blondes, masturbation, porn, Star Wars and Sardar-jis tend to be as far as
their repertoire goes. I won’t even begin to list the number of times I’ve
been subjected to racist Indo-Pak comedy that is rife amongst Hindu, Sikh
and Muslim men.

If only they had the spontaneity of a Robin Williams, the dry wit of Billy
Crystal, the satire skills of Bill Hicks or the intellectual mockery of
Stephen Fry. Sigh. Why even the whimsical ramblings of Eddie Izzard would
do. Anything but the annoying puns of Johnny Lever and lame Bollywood
slapstick courtesy of Akshay Kumar.

It’s a well known fact that a funny man can laugh a woman into bed. By laugh
I don’t mean a little giggle, cackle, snigger, chuckle or titter. I mean
laugh out loud, hysterical, knicker wettingly funny. Could it be that Asian
mothers have beaten the sense of humour out of their sons in order to safe
guard their easily corrupted natures?

So imagine my delight when browsing through a copy of this year’s brochure
for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that I noticed not one, or two, but a
small handful of brown faces pop up in the comedy section. You mean there
actually are some funny Asian men out there who do funny for a living? Where
can I get myself one of those?

OK, so a handful of desi comedians aren’t that big a deal when you consider
the fact that the Edinburgh Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival with
over 32,000 performances and more than 2,000 shows across the city, of which
859 are comedy acts. But it’s a start!

Taking Sanjeev Bhaskar and Hardeep Singh Kohli out of the equation (simply
because their Hounslow and Glasgow based gags have died a slow death), let’s
see who dares tickle our funny bone.

First up there’s Paul Sinha, a 40 years old GP turned comedian described as
a ‘lovelorn gay bachelor’ whose act this year centres on how a racist called
him racist. Hmm…sounds like he has potential. Then there’s loud mouth Paul
Chowdhry, whose crass routine usually involves shouting down the phone line
in a heavy Indian accent and doing badly dubbed Kung Fu movie impressions.
This year he promises to delight Edinburgh audiences by sharing his ‘acute
observations on weighty subjects about how the word ‘irony’ has replaced the
word ‘offensive’ and become the new ‘PC’ way of behaving distastefully, all
in an ‘ironic’ way!’ OK then. Let’s take a look.

Stand-up chameleon Anil Desai returns for his second solo show ‘Hey,
Impressions Guy!’ Described by various media as “A tour de force of
impressions…side-splittingly funny…ridiculously talented..”, this mimic
certainly offers a barrel of laughs. Worth checking out.

Finally there’s top Indian comic Vir Das. Billed as ‘’The funniest kid in
India’, his amusingly titled show, ‘Bloody Dastard – The Angry Indian
Cometh’, the radical promises to have us rolling in the aisles. Can’t wait!
No really I can’t. It’s actually this Asian comedian who is the most
interesting of the bunch at Edinburgh this year.

A new breed of comic who represents the confident, globalized Indian, Das is
the future of Asian comedy. Getting away from the lazy stereotypes that
British Asian comics often over rely on, Das is one of many young Indian
writer/actor/comedians whose act tenders commentary on one of the world’s
most powerful nations, economies and cultural forces. His source material
far outstrips that of his NRI brothers.

Having said that, I recently came across a bunch of Indo-American comedians
who have something interesting to say about themselves and their adopted
mother land. Top of that list is Delhi born and New York based Vidur Kapur,
an out and proud gay stand up comic whose razor sharp bitchy put downs and
socio-political observations are enormously fun. Add to that list IT geeky
Rajiv Satyal and alpha male Mark Saldana, and of course everyone’s favourite
Canadian Russell Peters, and you have the tip of a North Amercian-East
Indian comedy iceberg.

With all this rising comedy talent my gal pals and I may need to reconsider
our views. Maybe some Asian men can be funny when they put their Eddie
Murphy and Benny Hill impression aside. We just can’t just expect all of
them to be.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year between 6 and 30 August 2010. For more
info visit

- NRI Magazine

"Well Known NRI Stand-up Comedian Vidur Kapur is Coming to Town with His Unique Brand of Jokes"

At times risque, mostly irreverent, and miles from political correctness, Vidur Kapur is one of the few homosexual Indian stand-up comedians in America known for his brand of openly gay jokes and political humour. “I’m gay, an Indian and a migrant. That is the worst combination possible,” he declares, when we catch up with him over a telephonic conversation ahead of his four-city India tour as part of the Park’s New Festival. The festival will happen in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai.

Voted as one of the top four Asian comedians in North America to perform at the famous Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal in 2006, it will be the 37-year-old’s second official visit to the capital when he performs on September 4. But he is no stranger to the city. Kapur grew up in Delhi where he studied at St Columba’s school in the eighties before leaving for the London School of Economics to pursue a degree in Economics. After the course when he migrated to the US, Kapur occupied himself with a few ‘odds jobs’ in the corporate sector before experimenting with comedy. “Indians mostly join a corporate job in the US so they can make free calls to their parents. But comedy was a therapeutic experience for me. I could laugh off the burden of painful memories. It is best to find humour in events from the past,” he adds.

Instinctively his jokes were about being a gay Indian in India and the US, about fighting stereotypes like his parents’ obsession with marriage, his equation with his grandparents, and his jibes at stringent Indian customs. “Most Indian men think they are hot even if they aren’t. Matrimonials will show a buck-toothed 39-year-old Indian male asking for a 25-year-old, virgin, fair, tall match with good moral values to boot,” remarks Kapur, who does regular shows at two prominent comedy clubs —Gotham’s and Caroline’s, in New York. “Each joke I crack builds on the next, so I usually like to knock people out with a big laugh in the beginning and then build on its pace gradually,” says Kapur.

Over the years he has moved beyond gay jokes and makes ‘general commentary’ on NRI Indians, racism, politics and pop-culture. “Americans tend to get excited when they see an Indian especially after Slumdog Millionaire. Most believe that all Indians live somewhere next to those slums, and consequently they love all things Indian— even Bikram yoga,” he says. In his hour-long shows in India, Kapur will be doling out new material with a few trademark jokes from his repertoire. “There will be slight tweaks depending on the city I visit. Since I was born in Kolkata, I have a fair understanding of their kind of humour,” he says. - Indian Express

"Media & Festival List"

Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, Montreal, Canada
Ha!ifax Comedy Festival, Halifax, Canada
Indian Comedy Festival, South Africa
New York Comedy Festival, NBC “Stand Up for Diversity Finals” ,NY
New York Comedy Festival, “NY’s Funniest Stand Up Finals”, NY
Imagine Festival, NY
Were Funny That Way Festival, Toronto and Kelowna, Canada
Jobrani's "Brown and Friendly" Comedy Tour

Headliner, Gotham Comedy Club, NY
Headliner, Carolines on Broadway, NY
Comedy Store, London, UK
Jongleurs, London, UK
Club Cuba, Galway, Ireland
Broadway Comedy Club, NY
Stand Up NY, NY
Laugh Lounge, NY
Comedy Cellar, NY
Comic Strip, NY
Improv, Nashville and Fort Lauderdale
Cobbs Comedy Club, San Francisco
Joe’s Pub
Rooster T. Feathers, San Jose
Stress Factory Comedy Club, New Jersey
Brokerage Comedy Club, New York

MTV Networks’ Logo “Outlaugh Festival on Wisecrack”
MTV Networks’ Logo “One Night Stand Up”
FOX Steven Spielberg’s “On The Lot”
NBC “Last Comic Standing”
VH1 “Carolines” TV pilot
FOX coverage as part of "NY Comedy Festival" mentioned as "comedian to remember"
FOX Steven Spielberg's "ON THE LOT" subject of a film called "Laughing Out Loud: A Comic Journey"
“Indians in the Media” profiled along with Mira Nair ( Dir. The Namesake) and Parmindar Nagra( Bend It Like Beckham and ER)
New Delhi TV (NDTV) equivalent of NBC in India
ITV and AVS, South Asian cable networks
PBS’s “Asian America”
Jus Punjabi, South Asian cable channel
Reuters TV - syndicated to 500 global networks, "Prominent South Asians in the Media"

India Tribune, " One of Top 31 Personalities of Indian Americans"
Book "OUT ON THE EDGE: America's Rebel Comics" Chapter "Reincarnated" dedicated to Vidur Kapur
Vogue Magazine India - People and Places - Review on Tour '09
Marie Claire Magazine India - columnist

Sirius Satellite Radio
National Public Radio " Feet in Two Worlds"

NY’s Funniest Stand Up Comedian 2009 Top Ten Finalist
MTV Network's Logo Channel, Nominee for "NewNowNext" Award as "Brink of Fame:Comic"
NY Finalist on NBC's "Stand Up for Diversity"

- Sophie K. Entertainment

"Past Colleges"

Arcadia University, PA
Armstrong Atlantic University, GA
Austin Peay University, TN
Baruch University, NY
Berea College, KY
Brookdale Community College, NJ
Campus Pride Towson University, MD
Canisius College, NY
Carthage College, WI
Columbia University, NY
Dartmouth College, NH
Davidson College, NC
DePaul Univeristy, IL
Drexel University
Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY
Fordham Univeristy, NY
Harper College, IL
Haverford College, PA
Illinois Institute of Technology, IL
Illinois Wesleyen, IL
Indiana Unvieristy, IN
Kutztown University, PA
Lawrence Tech Univeristy, MI
Mary Washington University, VA
Merrimack College, MA
Michigan Tech University, MI
Missouri State University, MO
Missouri S&T, MO
Montana State University, MT
New England College, NH
New York University, NY
North Central College, IL
Northern Virginia Community College, VA
Pace Univeristy, NY
Penn State University, Harrisburg, PA
Pittsburg State University, KS
Princeton University, NJ
Reaching OUT MBA, George Washington Univ. Washington, D.C.
Rutgers University, NJ
Salisbury State Univ. MD
Shippensburg University, PA
Stanford University, CA
St. Joseph’s University, PA
SUNY Buffalo, NY
SUNY Stony Brook, NY
SUNY Geneseo, NY
Syracuze Univeristy, NY
Trinity University, TX
Truman State Univeristy, MO
UMASS Dartmouth, MA
Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham
University of Chicago, IL
Univ. of Delaware, DE
Univ. of Dubuque, IA
Univ. of Florida, FL
Univ. of Kentucky, KY
Univ. Of Louisville, KY
Univ. of Maryland, MD
Univ. of Pennsylvania, PA
Univ. of Pittsburgh, PA
Univ. of Memphis, TN
Univ. of South Carolina, SC
Univ. of S. Florida, FL
Univ. of Virginia-Wise, VA
Univ. of Wisconisin – Parkside, WI
UT Dallas, TX
UT Knoxville, TN
Vassar College, NY
Virginia Tech, VA
Williams College, MA
Yale University, CT
York College, PA
York University, Toronto
- Sophie K. Entertainment

"Outsourcing Prejudice"

Vidur Kapur has three stikes against him.
ONE: "Im Indian," He says. " I was born in Calcutta, India. I went to school in India, finished high school in England and went to The London School of Economics. I came to this country to get a Ph.D. in Economics at The University of Chicago. That was in 1990."
TWO: "I'm gay. Growing up in India as a teenager , I was very outwardly expressive with my sexuality. There was no real 'gay community" in India at that point and i was really kind of confused as far as gender was concerned., so i really acted out as a teen in New Delhi and went through a lot of hell with my family and with society as a whole."
THREE: "Im an immigrant. At the time i left India, I was lucky to get a scholarship to go study in the U.K., but if I hadnt I would have had to have gotten out of India somehow because I had such a bad reputation there."

Leave it to Vidur Kapur to equate his cultural struggle to the good ol' American pastime of baseball. " Indians look at me and they go, "Ew, hes gay!" Kapur elaborates. " and the gays look at me and they go "Ew, he;s indian!" And the rest of the world goes, "Ew, he's a terrorist!"

But five years since turning his back on a career in finance in order to pursue life as a stand up comedian, Vidur Kapur is still at-bat, swatting away at stereotypes both here and abroad. - Next Magazine

"9/11 Happened a day after I began my career in comedy.."

One of New York's favorite South Asian stand-up comedians , Vidur Kapur, who is performing in the city tonight, tells Nicole Dastur that comedy is serious business!

for more see - The Times of india, Bombay Times Art & Culture

"No More Sacred Cows for Vidur"

The First Out and Gay Desi Comic Takes a Bow

read more on - Trikone Magazine

"Laughing Act: Indian Born Comedian Entertains New York"

New York's famous Gotham Comedy Club now has Indian born Vidur Kapur as the new entertainer on its menu. His act is an edgy and hilarious social commentary of what it is like being Indian in America. " I was a University of Chicago Ph.D. candidate, I have done the whole corporate America thing. I have worked at Booz Allen and Hamilton and Deloitte Consulting. " I have doen it all and I was so miserable. Then I started writing and i took a comedy class and saw that I could be funny and that was it." said Kapur.

In fact, Kapur utilizes his diversity as a background for his material. His acts spans across various facets, being single in NY, being gay, racism and classism. And the audience keeps coming back for more. "Being an Indian, you identify with most of the stuff he talks about. It is a very incisive commentary on the Indian conditions, especially immigrants," said a local.

Immigrants, especially Indians have to face issues of alienation and marginalisation as they come to America and try to make it their home. But it seem that Kapur has found a way to make them laugh through it all. -

"A Queer Case of Comedy"

Indian-born U.S. comic Vidur Kapur's stand up act succinctly captures the phenomenon of marginalization of finge populations in the U.S.

for more go to - The Hindu


Pilot for VH1 reality show called "Carolines"
MTV Logo Nominee for "NewNowNext" Award as "Brink of Fame:Comic"
NBC Finalist on NBC's "Stand Up for Diversity"
FOX TV's Steven Spielberg's " On The Lot"
MTV LOGO's "Outlaugh Festival on Wisecrack"
Imaginasian Radio Interview with Vidur Kapur
NPR "Feet in Two Worlds" Featuring Vidur Kapur
Reuters Television "Prominent South Asians in the Media" Interview with Mira Nair, Naveen Andrews, Vidur Kapur
New Delhi TV Vidur Kapur at Gotham Comedy Club
Chapter titled "Reincarnated" in a book "Out on the Edge: America's Rebel Comics"



Vidur Kapur is starting his 2010 international tour of India and the Middle East. He is probably the first OUT comedian to be touring Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait. He was most recently a top 10 finalist on NYs Funniest Stand Up as part of the NY Comedy Festival. He was nominated by MTV Network's Logo channel for a "NewNowNext" Award as "Brink of Fame:Comic". Vidur has performed at over 100 college campuses and has catapulted barriers and moved South Asians and LGBT students from confinement on the margins to the campus core. He was selected as a NY finalist by NBC's "Stand Up for Diversity" and performed in Caroline's New York Comedy Festival as part of the "Stand Up for Diversity" showcase. He was also highlighted on FOX news as, "A comedian you want to remember". He was chosen as one of the top four Asian comics in North America to perform at the world famous "Just for Laughs" Comedy Festival in Montreal in July 2006. Vidur and his stand up comedy are the subject of a short film which was shown on Steven Spielberg's "On The Lot" on FOX television. He has co-starred with Margaret Cho in MTV LOGOs "Outlaugh Festival on Wisecrack" and is currently starring in Logo's "One Night Stand Up Vol. 2". Vidur was listed by India Tribune as "One of the Top 31 Personalities of Indian Americans". His insightful writing was made available to the public in '09 with his own chapter "Reincarnated" in a book called "Out on the Edge: Amercia's Rebel Comics" by Mike Player and published by Alyson Publications. Vidur was featured in a Reuters Television piece around the world on Prominent South Asians in the Media. Vidur has been seen in international media and television including, NBC, CBC in Canada, NPR, TV Asia, New Delhi TV, MTV Desi and PBS's Asian America. He has toured internationally including Canada, India, the UK, Ireland, South Africa and the Carribbean. Vidur was one of the original "Gurus of Comedy" in a show produced in 2003 along with Russell Peters and was nominated in the category of "Favourite South Asian Comedian" for the South Asian Media Awards, 2005. Vidur headlined a DVD that has recently been released called "Indian Invasion" and just completed a role in a pilot for VH1.

Vidur Kapurs stand-up comedy is based on the social commentary of a one-man culture clash. A South Asian raised in a conservative upper middle class family in New Delhi, an overachiever with a degree from The London School of Economics and Ph.D. coursework from the University of Chicago, a misfit in a family focused on arranged marriages and social status, a chic urban trend-crazy gay fashion victim in West Hollywood and Manhattan, a corporate executive from blue chip international firms, an immigrant to the US and a person horrified at being mistaken for a terrorist in a post 9/11 America.