“I don't want my son to be a doctor or an engineer. I just want him to be happy, being a doctor or an engineer” — Sorabh Pant, stand-up comedian
By Shashwathi Sandeep
“I don't want my son to be a doctor or an engineer. I just want him to be happy, being a doctor or an engineer.”
Sorabh Pant hit it spot-on when he made this remark on the sentiment echoed by every Indian parent. Sorabh says his life changed "when my wife decided to have a baby instead of getting a dog!" The funny man of the Indian stand-up comedy scene talks about the 'insanity of fatherhood' from his own experience.
In an exclusive, Sorabh Pant tells Parent Circle how fatherhood has changed him and how his children make him laugh.
Tell us how fatherhood is treating you…
Fatherhood is treating me well. There's lot of chaos in life right now, but it’s good. The opportunity to spend time with my children is precious and fun. I have grown accustomed to the idea that, as a comedian, my job is similar to that of a travelling salesman — I'm going from place to place selling jokes. So, fatherhood is great and I really enjoy being around my children.
Would you say that you're a hands-on dad?
I am pretty hands-on. I spend a lot of time with my kids. If my son or daughter is with me, I make sure that everything is taken care of. Everyone else agrees with it but my wife disagrees. She wants me to take it to the next level.
The best and worst part of being a parent, according to you…
The best is pretty much all of it. At the moment, I don’t see any downsides to being a parent. Yes, parents are sleep-deprived and all that, but that’s like everything else. The only minor downside is that I need to do shows and events that I ordinarily wouldn't think of doing (laughs). But, I do realise that's what keeps me on my toes as opposed to sitting and not doing anything.
How do you spend your free time with your children?
Taking them places. Usually, I take my son on the train; my daughter is too young to travel by train. I stroll around. I don’t like taking my children to indoor places because taking them to a park or the beach, or any other outdoor place is more fun. I also take them to my mom’s house, I have two children and my sister has one. So, everyone is taking care of everyone else. This gives me a few moments of respite from constantly taking care of them.
Your son thinks you're funny. What do you do to make him laugh?
There is no one thing that I do to make him laugh, it’s just a mixture of stuff. Initially, it was me acting like a buffoon and messing around, but now he is the one who is super funny. The other day, he was touching the hair on my hand and said, “Yuck papa...you are so dirty." And I replied, “I am not dirty… this is just hair on my hand.” So, he looked up innocently at my head and exclaimed, “Your hair fell from your head to your hands?" That made me laugh a lot. Even my daughter has a sense of humour though it's very slapstick right now. But, both my children make me laugh much more than I make them laugh.
The most memorable moments with your children…
I am not sure, really. My son and I sleep in the same room, and my wife and daughter sleep in another room. So, every morning, my daughter waddles into our room and wakes us up, which is fun. We just lounge around in bed, doing nothing. These are very memorable experiences for me.
What inspired you to do a stand-up special on your own fatherhood experiences? Is it all true the way you said it?
The idea came from the fact that I am constantly thinking and writing jokes around children. I think jokes happen by themselves. So, my son’s birth and everything that happened at the time, became part of my act for it was hilarious. And yes, pretty much what I said on that special was true. I may have exaggerated a few things, but most of it is true. I think people have enjoyed it, and more and more people are discovering the specials. So, it’s quite exciting. But, the reason I did the specials was that my children are costing quite a lot of money and, I might as well make jokes on them and get my money back. I think that was the motivation (laughs).
What was your family's reaction when they saw your act on fatherhood?
My family really enjoys the show. My sister is a year younger than me and, my wife a year older. But, my wife and I have the same amount of experience at parenthood, what a coincidence! (laughs). My family really enjoys what I do. Or at least, they pretend that they do, to make me happy.
What's the funniest advice you have received as a parent?
People say don’t take your children abroad or anywhere else, because they are too young and will not remember anything. Sometimes, you take them along because you want to go. My son went with my wife to Australia recently and he had a ball. So, I find it funny when people say don’t take them anywhere until they are older.
What is your advice to other parents?
My advice is to enjoy your children and not take things so seriously. That's what is wrong about modern parenting — taking things way too seriously. I know about some social media groups where paranoid messages are the norm. It’s good to be concerned about your children's well-being but also, enjoy their childhood. Stop being so worked up about it.
How has fatherhood changed you as a person?
Fatherhood has made me calmer and more relaxed. It has made me realise that everything doesn't happen just because you want it to. Apart from spending time on rehearsals, I spend four hours performing. But, once I am done with that, I say, “That was good, but where are we taking the children tomorrow; it’s a holiday" or "What’s the plan for Sunday?”
You have also authored books. Tell us something about them…
I have been an author for quite a while. I have written three novels and the most recent one is ‘Pawan–The Flying Accountant'. It’s about a superhero who is invincible but also suicidal. He keeps trying to kill himself but just won't die. So, his frustration keeps increasing. It’s absolutely crazy. It’s very edgy and very dark. As far as I know, everyone who has read the book has liked it. Around 5,000 copies have been sold and it's in its fourth print run now. It's doing quite nicely and I am happy about the response.
What's the next stand-up act you are planning?
I am working on my next special ‘Make India Great'. It focuses on some serious political and social issues and, is completely different from what I have done previously.
If your children want to take up stand-up comedy for a career, what would you say?
I would let my son and daughter be what they want to be. But, if they decide to take up comedy, I would tell them that it’s pretty much like any other job. They need to work hard.
Now that Father’s Day has come and gone, what's your message to your children?
I would like to tell my children, “Give me some money. You have been frightfully expensive." (laughs). Right now, they can’t read this. But, one day, they will read my words on the Internet.
What are the things that you appreciate in your dad?
I think my dad is one of the funniest people that I have met. Every girl who has met us together has found him funnier than me. And, I tell them that’s how you develop a sense of humour; you hang around with people who are funny and, I have hung around with my dad for a long time.
What is the most emotional moment you have shared with your dad?
As my dad gets older, he is becoming more emotional. Recently, I was doing a couple of shows in Hong Kong and they were not going as I expected them to. My dad sent me a nice message, which I never expected him to do. That was really touching.
Finally, what would you like to tell our readers?
The last thing I wanted to mention was go watch my special, 'My Dad Thinks He’s Funny' and my next special, 'Make India Great', in the coming month. Also, if you like reading, go pick up 'Pawan--The Flying Accountant'. And, here’s wishing everyone more precious parenting moments.
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