In the past few years standup comedy has become the new ‘engineering’, almost everyone seems to be getting into it but only few are excelling. It was a different time when standup comedians were a rare breed and the ones that tried hard enough were rewarded by Bollywood. To celebrate these legends, we bring to you a list featuring these Comedians who made it to Bollywood with their Humour.
John Prakash Rao Janumala popularly referred to as Johnny Lever is one of the first stand-up comedians in India. He is also one of the most successful comedians in Bollywood, however, his journey to stardom wasn’t so easy. Due to financial problems, young Johnny couldn’t complete his schooling and had to resort to working odd jobs. One of these jobs, selling pens in Mumbai while imitating Bollywood stars and dancing to their songs is how he got his start as a comic. He also spent his early years in Hyderabad where he learnt comedy acting. During a company function of Hindustan Lever, he mimicked a few officers due to which the employees started calling him Johnny Lever. He liked the name and decided to keep it.
He started his career by performing stand-up comedy in musical shows and later transitioned to comedy shows. At one of his shows, Sunil Dutt noticed his talent and offered him his first movie Dard Ka Rishta. He also recorded a comedy cassette called Hasi Ke Hangame. In 1986, he got a chance to perform in front of the members of the film industry and his talent was instantly recognized. This resulted in him getting offered a role alongside Naseeruddin Shah in the film Jalwa. His breakout role was in the movie Baazigar and after that he was often seen as a supporting actor or comedian in many movies. He has acted in more than 350 films.
Vir Das is one of the most prolific names in stand-up comedy. He has gained international fame for his stand-ups. He is also an actor and a comedy musician. He graduated from Knox College, Illinois. After graduating, he was accepted into the Moscow Arts Theatre.
He started getting into comedy while studying at Knox and performed his first stand up, Brown Men Can’t Hump, at Knox. He has also trained as a method actor at Harvard. Since returning to India in 2003, he has performed in over 100 comedy shows. Vir ha s also hosted a number of comedy shows and news comedy shows in his career. He got his big break in Bollywood in Namastey London in which he played a guest role. Since then he’s went on to star in supporting roles in many commercially successful Bollywood movies like Delhi Belly, Badmaash Company, Go Goa Gone, and many others. Even after making it in Bollywood, Das has continued to perform stand-up comedy and has released many comedy specials. In 2017, he became the first Indian comedian to have a comedy special on Netflix.
Sunil Pal’s story is that of hard work and struggle. He has achieved immense success with his unique style of comedy and his impersonification of popular Bollywood actors. He came to Mumbai in 1995 and during one of his interviews, he said he used to work at a tea stall in Santa Cruz, Mumbai and sleep on the footpath. He had to struggle a lot during his early years. He rose to fame after participating in The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, a comedy show that aired in the mid 2000s. He went on to win the competition. Following his success in the show he started getting offers from Bollywood. He has starred in many popular Bollywood movies like Phir Hera Pheri, Apna Sapna Money Money, Bombay To Goa, Kick, and many others. He has written, directed, and produced a film called Bhavnao ko Samjho which is in the Guinness Book of World Records for starring a whopping 47 comedians in one film.
Kapil Sharma is easily the most successful comedian in India. Kapil rose to fame after participating in the third season of The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. He went on the win the show. Following his win, he participated in Sony’s Comedy Circus in which he ended up winning six seasons of the show. After starring and hosting in various other shows, in 2013, he launched his own comedy show, Comedy Nights with Kapil. Ever since he has ruled the hearts of Indian audience and has become a staple among families. He made his big screen debut with Sunil Pal’s Bhavnao Ko Samjho. He’s played a lead role in Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon and Firangi and has also starred in ABCD 2. He lent his voice to the lead in the hindi version of the animated The Angry Birds Movie 2.