When stand-up comedy invoked tears
Stand-up comedian Rajasekhar Mamidanna talks about his latest act, A Love Letter to Mom
“This video is capable of making a fully grown adult cry,” says a comment under Raja Mamidanna’s new stand-up act, A Love Letter to Mom. The video’s comment section paints a picture of the show's reception, with descriptions like ‘heart-touching’, ‘heartwarming’, and ‘phenomenal’ recurring. It’s unusual to have a comedy performance bring someone to tears and leave them with thoughts to chew on.
A Love Letter to Mom, as the title spells out, is a tribute from Rajasekhar to his late mother, Usha Rani, as the comedian takes us through the memories he shared with his mother. “I just wanted to share my mother’s story, and had no reservations about it,” says Rajasekhar, one of the most happening names in the Hyderabad stand-up comedy scene.
His video, Vin Deisel of Hyderabad, with the title alluding to his shaven head, a recurring joke in his performances, has garnered over a million views. “It helped that I was a comedian. I was confident about making it interesting for the audience, apart from one incident that is emotional.”
The incident Rajasekhar refers to is the passing of his mother, which forms the final act of the performance. 30 minutes into the performance, just as he begins to lead the act towards the tragedy, the viewers, cracking up in laughter until then, turn quiet. Rajasekhar says the show was not easy to pull off, on account of the intimacy of the material. “This was the most challenging show I have ever done owing to the emotions I had to come to terms with before the show, during the show, and even after the show for several days,” adds the comedian, who has performed over 700 shows so far.
The video has raked in over 2,48,000 views, 16,000 likes, and 1,700 comments since its premiere on YouTube in March. But it’s the outpour of messages that Rajasekhar finds overwhelming. “The calls are emotional and the emails, long. People are relating to the loss and pain. Almost everyone who reached out to me has suffered loss and this show opened the gates for them to share what they feel about it.”
Eight years after he began pursuing stand-up comedy as a full-time career, Rajasekhar acknowledges that stand-up comedy cannot compete with cinema or cricket in terms of scale, but expresses optimism that the art form will thrive in the times to come. “Sometimes, we, stand-up comedians, delve into some rarely explored territories and do something magical,” signs off Rajasekhar.