Profile: Rishi & Sharul

Published on 19 January 2015

The local comedian couple get funny with married life in a new comedy show leading up to Valentine’s Day.

BY JO TAN

“It’s definitely not his face I was attracted to. There was no love, no lust at first sight. It was dust at first sight,” deadpans stand-up comedian Sharul Channa.

“Well, it was she who first grabbed my hand one day on the escalator,” counters her husband and fellow stand-up comedian, Rishi Budhrani. “She says it’s because she almost fell, but why didn’t she let go immediately? She’s still holding on now.”

This isn’t a routine, but standard repartee betwen Budhrani, winner of the Hong Kong International Comedy Competition 2012, and Channa (nicknamed ‘Balls of Steel’), a regular on the international circuit who has performed in Malaysia, India and Britain. However, the Singaporean funny duo reveals that while their household can be hysterical, it’s hard to keep work out of it.

“Work has always been our big connection. We met at Bollywood Dance rehearsals, then both went into acting and now, comedy,” recalls Channa. “If you have similar passions, you have things to talk about. But when work is the only thing we talk about, when can we romance? And something funny always happens when we are romancing. Then we start discussing who’ll use it as part of their routine.”

And since they can’t keep work out of marriage, they’re putting their marriage into their work, in the brand-new The Rishi & Sharul Show. Other than stand-up routines, the couple will perform comedy skits together, including original ones by local writers like Wayne Cheong. The show is taglined ‘True Love Is 49% Hate’, and themed of course, on marriage.

Channa cautions that less romantic, more real aspects of wedlock might get mentions in the show. “Yes, we do joke about personal issues — underwear or otherwise — that we might not even talk about to each other. Rishi and I understand that nothing is off-limits. Comedy can actually be therapy to address what’s happening in our lives.”

Budhrani agrees, adding, “Singaporeans are familiar with comedy skits, but less with stand-up. When we started four years ago, this wave of local stand-up comedians was just taking off. We’re not in-your-face Kumar, not singing, dancing Dim Sum Dollies. We’re a regular guy and girl with a microphone and one light baring their soul to you. We hope more people get to see that.”

The Rishi & Sharul Show plays Thursdays to Saturdays from 5-14 Feb, at the Goodman Arts Centre Black Box.

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