There are few things in life that are better than a belly-achingly good laugh. So, if you don’t yet know the name Neel Kolhatkar, make sure to list it at the top of your things to do because he guarantees just that.
Comedian, writer, actor and internet sensation, Neel Kolhatkar, has spent the last several years rising to the forefront of modern comedy in Australia. Born with a natural flair for making people laugh, he began his career as a comedian after winning the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s Class Clowns competition, at the young age of 15.
“I think I was just a bit of an attention seeker when I was a kid, and that grew into public speaking and acting, which then transitioned into more comedic acting and improvisation,” he says, “The next step after that was stand-up comedy. I tried it first when I was 15, it’s a weird thing to want to do but I genuinely wanted to do it, so I tried it and I loved it from the moment I started doing it. And I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Some years into his career as a comedian, Kolhatkar skyrocketed to internet fame as an impressions video he posted – titled ‘Australia in 2 minutes’ – went viral overnight.
“It’s so weird [going viral] because it’s so immediate. Within a day or two it’d been viewed over a million and a half times,” says Kolhatkar of the experience. “When I finally stepped out of my house, I went to the train station and I was getting recognised everywhere. It was so off-putting, I didn’t know how to react… It was just such a strange experience and almost like I was living in a film or something. I still find it quite crazy that people come up to me and recognise me. It’s a pretty unique time that we’re living in, with the internet; and I’m very thankful.”
During recent years, such videos have been superseded by the release of his critically acclaimed short films. With titles ‘Equality’ and ‘Modern Educayshun’ of particular note, the films allow us to delve further into the brilliant mind of Kolhatkar.
“I never really saw myself as a filmmaker, especially not as a political satirist, but I tried my hand at it,” he says, “There were restrictions creeping in around comedy, particularly in restricting what comedians could say. And for the most part, it came from a good place, but there were parts of that culture that was detrimental to comedy and art in general, and I did really want to say something about that.
“I first did Equality, which skyrocketed. I had no idea it would go that well, because it was so different and it was quite dark, so I didn’t really know how my audience was going to react. But now that’s my biggest video by far.”
After spending the first half of the year performing his new stand-up show at the likes of Adelaide Fringe Festival and Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Kolhatkar is now set to share the love with regional Australia on his upcoming tour.
“Audiences can expect all of my usual style and content. Talk about media, about politics a little, talk about ‘Straya quite a bit – considering I’m touring regional Australia – I’ve got to talk about that. My experiences… relationships, sex, all that sort of stuff that I don’t get much of,” he laughs, “I’ve never performed down in Geelong or Bendigo before, so I’m just really looking forward to it. I extend an invitation to the various people in the cities to give me a crack… at the show. I mean, at the bar afterwards as well if they’re keen, but mainly at the show.”
When & Where: Geelong Performing Arts Centre, Geelong – September 2 & Capital Theatre, Bendigo – September 8
Written by Helena Metzke