Saying this is easy, doing it very tough. This guy left his comfort zone in his forty’s to take the discussion from board meetings to the laugh clubs. After killing it as the head of Xbox business at Microsoft India, he left it all behind to follow his dream to become a stand up comedian. He had his own first special after only a few months of being on the stage showing everyone that it is possible to have your cake & eat it too. DigiKarma interviewed Anshu Mor to find out there is much ‘mor’ to come.
Q. Let’s start with what everyone wants to know. WHY?? Why would a Microsoft India head with such a great career, leave everything behind to become a Standup Comedian?
I guess I was influenced by all the movies talking about following your passion, so I just decided to Walk the Talk!
On a serious note though, it was the love of the stage and the mic which I found was bigger than everything else that I was doing. I had a great 18 years stint in corporate life & I used to love my job, but then there was always this incomplete feeling. I have always felt that there is something else I should be doing and I realized, that was being associated with the entertainment world. Hence I started a company of my own called ‘Talking Mime’, which is an entertainment and storytelling company. Standup Comedy is one of the main pillars of this company, apart from digital/branded content creation and delivering the art of storytelling workshops to corporates.
Q. What was it about comedy that made you think – ‘This is where I belong’?
Making people laugh! Just this one thing gives me so much happiness. Even in private life, my most obvious route in a conversation is to crack jokes and make the interaction lighter. I think comedy comes naturally to me and stand up comedy not only gives you the ability to practice this art but it also gives you a platform to voice your thoughts and opinions on topics that you feel passionately about. There is a certain magic in being on stage and talking to absolute strangers and then making them laugh!
Q. Tell us a little something about your life – Who is Anshu Mor, Where is home & How did your journey begin?
Married, father of a teenager and son to parents who have always been associated with the education field, I consider myself a fairly simple guy who loves to challenge the normal, take risks and follow the heart. Was born and brought up in Delhi and have also spent close to 9 years in Bangalore during college and work phase. I was a decent student during school & college but became really serious about my career during my Masters at Delhi School of Economics where I also met my better half :-). If I look back at my entire career, one thing that has been consistent is my passion is to create something from scratch and build it up to scale. That really gets my adrenalin pumping. Stage, mic, music, entertainment have always been core to who I am. Right from school to corporate life, I wouldn’t miss any opportunity to get behind a mic to entertain people.
At a philosophical level, I’m a fearless dreamer. I totally believe that if you dedicate your mind and heart to it, nothing in this life is impossible to achieve.
Q. You always emphasize on the fact that this transition is not a mid-life crisis thing. Do you think people judge you over this transition or did you have some sort of insecurity while taking this decision?
Haha, the term ‘mid-life crisis’ to define my move was used by me during a standup routine and more like a joke as from the outside I can understand how crazy this move sounds. However, many people in the past one year have reached out to me telling me how I have become an inspiration to them to follow their own dreams. I guess people like to see bold moves and that too working out successfully.
I was strangely not insecure about this move at all. I guess it was because I was fairly clear on what my capabilities are and what the industry had to offer to make me achieve what I had to. I didn’t know about how to go about it initially or who to reach out to but there was this belief that I would make my place in this industry. I had very consciously not dwelled on where the paychecks would come from in the beginning or any other negative thoughts because I believed those questions would raise more doubts in my head. It also helps to have an extremely supportive ecosystem around you for such a move. My wife, my parents, my brother, my relatives and close friends provided such a comforting atmosphere to me to go do what I wanted to.
Q. Your comedy contains elements of storytelling. Tell us about your process from creating a joke and taking it to stage.
You are right, storytelling is my style and that’s how I relate to comedy myself. My process of creating a joke is evolving as I go along. Initially, it used to be about writing on a certain topic and taking it to stage once I found it funny enough. Now it is very different, as the stakes are higher. I now do a lot of introspection on what I want to really talk about on stage, I try to peel the layers off the most obvious humor around a topic and try to make an effort to deliver something that is not only funny but also insightful. Writing is now almost a daily process. It does take a lot of time to even create 5 mins of worthy material. I now write more about my life experiences and deeper observations around me and once I have a basic structure ready I do a lot of voice recordings on my own for that material. I have realized that’s the part of the process where most of the punchlines come to me. At some stage, I do take some material and test out with the live audience by taking smaller spots at comedy clubs but mostly when I’m myself convinced that the material would work I take it to the main shows. Of course, the material keeps getting refined the more I perform it live in front of an audience.
Youtube Handle for Anshu Mor (@AnshuMor)
Q. Do you think your corporate experience helps you as a stand-up artist? If yes how?
Every experience gives something to stand up comedy. This art is about giving your experiences a voice in a manner that makes people laugh. Obviously, corporate life has given me a lot of material to joke about but also the connections that I developed in the industry have helped me get more opportunities to perform. The discipline and insights from corporate life are clearly helping me provide structure to building a company of my own.
Facebook Handle for Anshu Mor (@MorTheComic)
Q. Tell us about ‘Talking Mime’. What’s the idea behind this startup?
‘Talking Mime’ is an entertainment and storytelling company. With humor as the core genre under which we create, the company is focussed on delivering high-quality content both offline (standup comedy) and online (web series, branded content etc). I feel that both standup comedy and digital content businesses are in nascent stages in India. There is tremendous opportunity to deliver content to consumers/fans and brands which are of high standards both in terms of the writing quality and production. We wish to be one of the top content companies in India and to do the same we put a lot of focus on collaborating with the right set of individuals who have the same view on how the content should be delivered.
The company also has another arm which delivers ‘art of storytelling’ workshops to corporates, where we help them communicate more effectively with their intended audiences (both internal and external) using storytelling techniques. I deliver these training based on my experiences both on stage and in corporate life.
Q. Usually it takes a lot of time for a new stand-up artist to get an opportunity of doing a special. You on other hand have got that chance pretty early in your career. Tell us about “Wait, There’s Mor!”
‘Wait, There’s Mor!’ is actually my second special since I started. My first special was called ‘The Anshu Mor Show’, where I mostly introduced myself to the world – my decision to quit corporate life, reactions of people around me, my family and life in the 40s. I took that special on tour in March and while I was doing the tour I had started working on my next special which is ‘Wait, There’s Mor!’.
This new one is a much different special from the last one in terms of delivery style and humor. It consists of 4 stories and a couple of observational pieces, mostly dwelling on parenting, college life, drugs, singing and some unique behaviors that I have observed. I took it to stage at Canvas Laugh Club in Gurgaon in June and now I’m working on doing an India tour with this special in the later half of July. I would also be taking this special to select international cities in Aug/Sept timeframe.
Q. How do you market your work?
It’s mostly social media. I’m on every possible social media platform and I work systematically to ensure I put relevant content out there. Word of mouth recommendations coming from my live shows also contributes significantly toward driving this business.
Q. What was your worst show? Did you question your decision after that show?
My worst show happened in Dec last year where I was invited to do a comedy set at a tech industry forum. My act was announced immediately after an intense panel discussion on Digital India and clearly, the audience wasn’t in the right frame of mind to consume comedy immediately after that segment. So I pretty much received a dead silence with an occasional smile from the audience during the entire act!
Having bad shows is the best thing that can happen to a comedian. It teaches you so much and pushes you further to bring more elements into your act to ensure that you can deliver to any audience, anytime. I would admit it’s the worst feeling to tank a show, but as one grows in this industry you realize you need such shows as much as you need the killer nights on stage.
Q. What do you do when you’re not working?
I feel I’m constantly working now. The mind is always searching for new content. If not writing or working on other aspects of my company, I spend a lot of time watching similar content. Sounds fun doesn’t it? And it is, if you have to watch standup specials as part of your job, you can’t be complaining. I do try to spend as much time with family as I can because the demands of this life are ever increasing with a lot of travel and night shows that take time away from family.
Q. Thank you so much for the interview. Do you wanna add something to this conversation that we missed. What would you like to tell our readers?
Thank you for doing this interview. To all the readers, firstly a big thank you for reading this interview and secondly hope you like my content, follow me on social media (mostly exists as @anshumor) and keep providing your valuable feedback. Keep rocking, Cheers!
Note: This Interview was taken by Ash from DigiKarma.
Facebook Page for Ash (@officiallyAsh)