James Kolsby SEAS '19
Manohar — who previously produced and appeared in CU NOW, a YouTube series that satirized Columbia life — believes stand-up comedy goes “hand in hand” with the College’s tradition of “dissent, never bowing down to authority and questioning everything.” Yet he also sees his art as a way to combat stress. “People at Columbia need to laugh,” says Manohar, who was a member of the 122nd Varsity Show cast and one of two social chairs for V123. “There are many stressful things happening. Everyone is thinking about the world. I think everyone could use a laugh.”
Manohar is also part of what he describes as an emerging comedy scene in India. He has spent the last three summers in Mumbai as a writing intern with All India Bakchod, a sketch group with almost 2.6 million subscribers on YouTube. AIB uses subversive humor and satire to address controversial topics — an increasingly risky thing to do in India in light of crackdowns on freedom of expression. This past summer, on nights when he wasn’t testing new jokes at an open mic, Manohar opened for comedians in and around Mumbai.
“Because the scene is still so new, I feel that what I do matters,” says Manohar about performing in India. “Every open mic changes the scene in some small way. Every new joke you do takes the scene forward.”
Hometown: Nagpur, India
Majors: Creative writing, English
Clubs: Columbia College Student Ambassadors, Spectator, Latenite Theatre, Varsity Show
Manohar’s love of comedy grew out of his experience as a cricket commentator in India, a hobby he picked up in eighth grade that turned into paid gigs. (He says he commented on about 500 matches on television and radio in a span of four years.) In high school, he began doing stand-up comedy at the Canvas Laugh Club in Mumbai. Since he’s been at the College, Manohar has performed at New York City venues such as the Gotham Comedy Club, the Broadway Comedy Club and the New York Comedy Club, as well as The Creek & The Cave in Queens.
Manohar plans to stay in New York City after graduation and envisions himself writing for magazines or television. He wouldn’t mind becoming the next Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert in the process. “My dream is to have a news comedy show of my own,” he says.
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