Considering crawling the Internet has become a large part of our lockdown life, chances are you’re familiar with Abish Mathew’s Instagram live, Viva. On a good day, he is hitting it out of the park with his wisecracks, and on an admittedly bad day, he is playing dumb charades with his social media followers. Either way, his followers are in for a joyride. Besides Viva, Mathew has also developed the at-home edition of his popular chat show, Son of Abish. In conversation with mid-day, the comedian-host discusses adapting to the new normal as he juggles two shows.
Edited excerpts from the interview.
What did you learn while filming Son of Abish through the lockdown?
Developing the seventh season was a new ball game. We didn’t want to stop only because the condition was not conducive to our expectations. Now, I have a better understanding of technology and how it functions. There was so much information that at one point, I didn’t even understand what I was reading. The beauty of [self-shooting at home] is that now I know the jargon, including the word jargon [laughs].
You also kicked off a show on Instagram live, which became immensely popular.
During the lockdown, I didn’t want to lose my mojo and wanted to stay connected to people. That is when I kicked off the Instagram live. It was initially not conceptualised as a show, but eventually, it became a practice to go live on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We named it Viva.
Have you incorporated any of your learnings from Viva in your talk show?
All of it. I kicked off Viva in April, and started working on Son of Abish in June. I am laidback on Instagram. But when I would shoot for the show, I used to be stressed about the lighting, the music, the audience waiting and so on. However, after Viva, I have become much more relaxed during the shoot. Recently, my audio stopped working during the Instagram live. So, I decided to play dumb charades with viewers. The first film they had to guess was Arachnophobia [laughs]. I revealed some of my innermost secrets while people tried to lip-read what I was saying. It was entertaining. This helped me with Son of Abish. Now, I know if something went wrong, I could still keep entertaining.
You have an eclectic guestlist this season.
The seventh season is all about conversations and stories, where celebrities share their experiences and I share my opinions. We have Hari Kondabolu, one of America’s biggest comedians. His documentary, What is Wrong with Apu?, which depicts how the Indian community is reflected, had become a huge hit. We have also featured Utkarsh Ambudkar, an actor-rapper who has worked on Pitch Perfect. During his Oscar interview, he had mentioned that he was a fan of Raftaar. So, we teamed them up for the episode. Of 10 episodes, if we pull off even three risks, I will be thrilled.
Will you revert to the old format when things improve?
If we are the same after the pandemic as we were before it, we haven’t grown at all. The objective is to go back into a cocoon and come out as butterflies. The show will always evolve. But I am sure I won’t do away with the live audience, even if it means having only five people. I had them when we were shooting in the studio, and even now when the show has shifted digitally.
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