Relatable Aussie humour with an Indian twist
Neel Kolhatkar started performing at the age of 10. At 15, he began recording sketches with his friends and posting them on YouTube. Now, at just 24, he has reached nearly 500,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, developed an even greater love for performing, and has become one of Australia’s most-loved upcoming comedians for his impenitent humour.
Drawing inspiration from huge international acts, Neel said he appreciates how relatable comedy can have a huge impact on the success of a comedian.
“I watched Chris Rock quite a lot when I was a teenager and I loved his character, exuberance and energy, and just the unapologetic nature of his punch lines, and I still watch him now and realise there’s a lot more to what he does,” he said.
“It’s quite nuanced and I like his perspective on relationships and race relations in America, and I really connect with and admire a lot of his comedy.”
Neel first rose to fame after his videos that depicted typical Australian characters and stereotypes went viral on YouTube and social media, showcasing the comedy in everyday situations throughout modern-day Australia.
“I think in the realm of the internet, my content really stood out because it was quite in your face, it could be quite aggressive at times, and it was unapologetic and caustic.
“Just the fact these videos were filmed in my bedroom was something unique, it was something people hadn’t seen before and they couldn’t ignore it, especially as some of them were quite controversial so that always aids in the vitality of internet content because everyone has an opinion and everyone wants to see others’ reactions to it,” he said.
As an Australian voice from an Indian background, Neel’s Asian characters are quite significant to his young audiences because he presents a different perspective on culture to what is normally shown in mainstream media.
“I tend to see the humour in the difference of culture, and the differences of certain characters or stereotypes that you would get from those cultures in Australia, in general,” he said.
“I do feel like I have a bit more of an ownership of these jokes because I am from an Indian cultural background and I’m just really encouraged to speak about it and to present my perspective on those differences, which makes people laugh and is quite relatable to my audiences.”
Not only is he known as a YouTube personality and stand-up comedian, Neel is also a director of a number of satirical short-films that comment on social issues and political correctness. Despite some of these videos being created around four years ago, they have become more relevant today than ever, with the issues now at the forefront of many mediums and conversations. Some of Neel’s most viewed short films include Modern Educayshun, The Privilege Game and #Equality, and he said fans can expect to see another one in the coming months.
“It’s a little bit more subtle in it’s social criticism and a bit more narrative-based than some of the others, as opposed to a straight-out sketch,” he said.
“We live in a very politically and culturally polarised world in western society at the moment, and I just want to dig deeper into some of these issues and some of the perspectives that people are exposed to in this day and age, and I want to get to the bottom of what the philosophy is behind some of these perspectives.
“I stand by everything I say in these films and I think they’re very relevant, and I will continue to make films like that because I enjoy doing so.”
As well as creating more of these shorts, Neel said he will also continue to refine his stand-up performances and he encourages everyone to support comedians like himself by attending their live shows in comedy rooms and festivals, both large and small.