Published: 11th August 2018
Meet Navin Noronha, India's first openly gay stand-up comedian who is also an engineering graduate
For Navin Noronha, getting on stage and doing comedy, be it for five people or for 500 people, is a therapeutic experience
India's first openly gay stand-up comedian Navin Noronha is based out of Mumbai and is one of the only stand-up comedians in the country to represent the LGBTQI+ community. He often single-handedly fights the prevalent and sadly, often celebrated, homophobia in the present stand-up comedy scene in India.
Navin is a comedian, writer, improv artist and podcaster. "Throughout my life, I've held a lot of odd jobs before finding my voice in my artistic inclinations. I believe art serves a major purpose in the society, something that most traditional families overlook. I have a bachelor's degree in Telecommunication Engineering, which I ended up using for about two weeks before switching to writing full time. Over the past two years, I have produced over a thousand episodes of podcasts, ranging from pop culture discussions and poker to sex and current affairs," says Navin.
Being happily gay: Navin is a comedian, writer, improv artist and podcaster
Navin's first ever open mic was in the July of 2014 prior to which he was a professional emcee right out of school. "Getting on stage was not the scary part, making people laugh at my jokes was. I came out of the closet publicly at my first open mic event itself, and since then I've never looked back. That was mainly because I found my voice and assurance that there is a community out there that accepts me for who I am," adds Navin, with an evident amount of confidence in his voice.
Navin says coming out of the closet was, surprisingly not too bad. There are always homophobes who assume certain stereotypes but otherwise, most of his friends and colleagues have been interested in learning more about the LGBTQ culture. And hence, he adds, using humour to explain these things always helps.
While speaking about his journey of coming out, he says almost all of his friends - from the ones he grew up with to the ones he went to college or worked with have been ultra supportive. "It's mainly because they knew me for me, and anything else apart from that is an addition to my identity that I proudly own. There were some bullies in my college, but you kill them with logic. And I ended up befriending people who do not approve of my lifestyle. Everyone's got their own thing. I am not out to change people's belief. I am out to appeal to their saner side," he adds, smirking.
So what happened when Navin came out to his parents? "It's been a journey of self-discovery with them. It takes times for most Indian parents to wrap their head around the fact that their child won't have a 'normal' life, but I have made the effort of educating them about my struggles and my joys," explains Navin.
August 12 - That Comedy Club, Bangalore
August 18 - The Habitat, Mumbai
August 25 - Classic Rock Cafe, Pune
September 9 - The Doodle Room, Kolkata
September 16 - Embers, Goa
For Navin, getting on stage and doing comedy, be it for five people or for 500 people, is a therapeutic experience. He can be as real as he wants and also be as exaggerated to tell his stories and get people laughing. He adds that it is an experience unlike any other. "I have been doing this for a while now. So eventually, I put all my material together and started doing a bunch of trial shows. Currently, I am touring across India with my show 'The Good Child'. It starts with Bangalore on 12th August, followed by Mumbai (18th August), and several other cities after that," says the comedian.
Navin concludes that the stage gives him more confidence. "It is a great feeling being watched by people and holding their attention with only your words. The audience at a comedy show is there to laugh. They are generally very open-minded and do indulge in interesting conversations around all the topics that I tackle on stage," he says.