Punya Arora, Stand-up Comedian/Photographer

Hi! My name is Punya Arora and I’m a professional photographer and a Stand up comedian.My story is fairly simple, in the sense that I had no clue that this is what my work was going to be.

There’s a saying I once read by Gerard Suter, ‘I didn’t choose photography, photography chose me’ and that’s exactly what happened with me with both my professions. 

I won’t go into detail about photography much as it’s been on hold for a bit since Comedy seems to have taken over my life!

How it all started: I just used to enjoy watching stand up comedy a lot (I still do) but it didn’t occur to me that this is something anyone could get up on stage and try, I honestly had no clue then.

Then first comedian I ever watched online was Eddie Izzard and I was absolutely blown away , I remember thinking ‘oh my god what a cool thing this person is doing’ , I was studying photography at the time and started watching more and more of Eddie (not even realising that there might also be other people that do comedy) 

Eventually I was introduced to so many other comics and at some point I decided I’m going to try this out for fun but I didn’t know when and how!

A little bit of background and context here about me, I’m a Punjabi, so very talkative by birth already and I would enjoy imitating my teachers while I was in school! I’d mimic different accents , try being a different character and was always on stage for some activity or the other! 

Coming back to my first ever open mic, this was much after photography school (Light & Life Academy, Ooty) I was done with my course and back home in bangalore and someone told me about an open mic that happens at Urban Solace , a tiny little cafe which even now is the longest running comedy Open Mic in Bangalore, this was about 5 years back. I went and nervously watched one and the next time went back and got on stage. I remember the audience’s reaction till date, there was laughter and applause and I thought oh this is so fun!! I didn’t pursue it though because I was setting up my studio at the time. 

But comedy is this little bug, once it bites you it’s hard to get away even if you try. I worked on my studio for a while but I had to shut down a year later as I was doing a lot more on location work and that’s when I decided to give Comedy another fair shot since I had some time on my hands and this time there was no turning back.

4 years later here I am 🙂

I’ve been born and brought up by a single parent, my mum and I’ve never met the person she was married to. All of this is something I speak about in my one hour stand up special called “Meri Maa Ki!!” , which I’m currently touring with. So if I’m ever in your city with the show, it’s an interesting watch as I talk about some very difficult topics but with jokes. 

It’s been an interesting journey in terms of material as all of my content comes from personal life and my experiences. I’ve learnt over time that the truth is way funnier than we expect and ofcourse ‘tragedy plus time equals comedy’ . 

What I love most about being a comedian is also one of the most challenging things about it , is that no matter what sort of day you’ve had, or you may be going through a tough time personally, but at the end of the day when you get on stage your only job is to be funny and make people laugh. No matter what, the show must go on and I love that. Also the most brilliant thing about this job is that the feedback is instant! If the audience likes a joke they’ll laugh and if they don’t you’ll know immediately. And both are equally important to be a good comic! The bad shows always make you come back stronger.

Comedy is only about 7-8 years old in India, so as an industry we have a long way to go. But as comedy is evolving so are the audiences. Earlier it was new for them to see a woman on stage, there was either a curiosity about it and sometimes a preconceived notion of ‘women aren’t funny’ , but honestly in this line, male or female, if a joke is funny the audience will laugh, it’s as simple as that. There are challenges not unlike any other field but my experience so far has been positive and any setback just motivates me to do better. I try to stay in the moment and take it one show at a time and not think too much beyond that!

In terms of comedy goals , there are so many and they’ll come to light as and when I start achieving them. So many stages to conquer, so many spotlights to shine under, so many stories to tell and so much laughter to share. I love being a comedian so much, I think it’s also made me a better person, more focused and more determined and it constantly makes me want to be a better comic! My most immediate goal for always is that I want every next show to be better than the last and to make my mum proud!! 

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