Standing out through stand-up comedy acts

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Katie Chin (she/her)

Sophomore Aakash Choudhary performs stand-up comedy

Susanna Tang

“My mom was actually the one who told me to come out and perform here,” sophomore and stand-up comedian Aakash Choudhary said during his act at the Coffeehouse Talent Show. “After my birth, I guess that would be her second mistake now.”

Choudhary’s comedy acts elicit joy and laughter, but what his audience does not see is his strong mindset driven by previous failures.

“I bombed my first live performance,” Choudhary said. “I did horrible — no one laughed. But I was really happy because I realized there was so much growth to be done and that I had such a long and fun journey ahead of me.”

In sixth grade, Choudhary felt socially inferior to his peers. In an effort to gain more confidence, he stopped taking his negative feelings so seriously and explored new ways of standing out. He eventually landed on stand-up comedy, an art introduced to him by his parents, who were big fans of Trevor Noah, a South African comedian. 

“I was just trying something that no one else wanted to do,” Choudhary said. “I realized that it was significantly easier to win a game which no one else was playing.”

Whether in a casual conversation or during a class presentation, laughter from others has always been the most gratifying sound to him. 

Choudhary’s biggest inspiration and supporter is his mom, Lakshmi Subramanian, who always encourages him to bring his talent to the public. Subramanian believes a significant contributor to improvement is performing in front of a live audience to receive feedback and learn from both good and bad experiences. 

“Every show is different and not every show is going to be a good show so you’re going to learn from every time you perform,” Subramanian said. 

Throughout his day, Choudhary jots down jokes whenever they cross his mind. As a performance nears, he spends hours creating transitions from one joke to another until a full script is complete.

“I think people underestimate the process of stand-up comedy,” Choudhary said. “My five-minute act at the Coffeehouse Talent Show probably had six months worth of comedy inside of it, but hearing the audience laugh made it all worth it.”

A barrier that many public speakers struggle to break down is lack of confidence. For Choudhary, humility instilled in him since elementary school and his ability to turn failures into opportunities for growth have allowed him to unceasingly expand his comfort zone.

“To combat stage fright I just think to myself, ‘If I mess up, so what? Nobody cares about my failures more than I do,’” Choudhary said. “Just be humble and know that you can fail.”

In the future, Choudhary aspires to perform at comedy clubs to attain the full experience of being a stand-up comedian and sharpen his writing process. He hopes to work on lengthening his sets by focusing in on each joke to create longer, more developed segments.

“Stand-up comedy is very therapeutic for me,” Choudhary said. “Even if I never perform live again, I’ll probably forever still be writing jokes. Even for sad things that happen in my life, writing about it just feels so good to me. Comedy, more than anything, is a way of self expression for me.”