Internet sensation and stand-up comedian Kenny Sebastian stars in Amazon Prime's original web series Die Trying, which has been created by the artist himself. The show revolves around a couple of struggling musicians in Bangalore.
Amazon Prime Video’s latest offering is stand-up comedian and popular YouTube artist Kenny Sebastian’s web series Die Trying. Inspired from the days that Kenny had spent in Bangalore as a struggling musician, Die Trying is a fictionalised account of a couple of artists who try to make it big in the music industry. In a conversation with Indianexpress.com, Kenny opened up about the show, its concept and his future projects.
Why did you choose to develop a show on your days as a struggling musician, and not on the days when you were trying to break into the stand-up comedy scene?It’s a very conscious choice. I feel like my stand-up journey is not over. I am still going through it. I don’t have a closure with stand-up yet. I hope it goes on forever (my career as a stand-up comedian). Music is something that has a beginning, middle and an end, as far as I am concerned. Plus, this is the first time I am writing a long fiction show. Doing longer arcs, narratively, is much tougher than writing for a solo episode or a sketch. So I wanted to create a show based in a world which I am familiar with.Whatever I had learnt as a struggling musician is not very different from what I have learnt as a comedian. Being an artist is pretty much the same, at least the basic outline of it all. And I thought it would be really interesting to do a show based on music.As a comedian, you cannot get very far if you are not funny. In stand-up, you need approval every three seconds, that’s not the same with music. While listening to music, people may or may not have all their attention focused on what you are playing. They might be drunk, they might be eating, basically, in all likelihood, they might be distracted. So while performing a musical gig, you can get away with a half-baked song, but that’s not the case at all with stand-up. The audience hangs onto your every word, listening intently. And so, music seemed like a better choice somehow.
How involved were you with the musical process in Die Trying?I wrote, sung and composed music for Die Trying. For me, music as a career option is not viable anymore, not because ‘I couldn’t make it’, but because music in itself is too painful.What do you mean?Music is not just a project that didn’t work out, it is bigger than that. I am putting my heart, risking and exposing myself in front of a big crowd. So, what if they end up not liking what I do? If they reject my music, they reject me. That’s not true of stand-up. In that way, doing comedy is safer. Stand-up can also hurt, it is not without its dangers. But it (stand-up) is more bearable. It’s more about entertaining people. If you are not entertained, I will try harder. But with music, it’s personal. I don’t think I can change my music for anyone.So who are your favourite musicians? Your influences?Eric Clapton is an all-time favourite, but (and this may sound cheesy) I am also quite influenced by John Mayer.Did you watch any musical dramas to get an idea? What went into conceptualising the series?The germ of the idea was inspired from what I personally went through while trying to make it as a musician in Bangalore, but that was it. The rest of it is complete fiction. I had very good writers to help me out, and once they came on board (Naveen Richards and Rohan Desai, among others), I realised that my own story was not dramatic enough.
I didn’t really sit down and watch any shows to create Die Trying. The artist part of me was convinced that there shouldn’t be any ‘real’ music in the show, as the series is more about the artist than about his music. See, I believe in making things that I want to watch. Plus, there is nothing like Die Trying on air right now. So I wanted to explore that space. What also helped was the fact that Die Trying is based in Bangalore, and not in, say a Delhi or a Mumbai. It was important for me to tell a story from a place that I could relate to, where people spoke like I did. And that’s why Die Trying is special.Now that you have acted in a web series, are you also open to doing movies?To be honest, I don’t think I have the same passion for acting that I have for directing and creating something new. I wanted to nail the acting bit, and I took acting classes to make it seem more believable. My priority was that the story should work, and not that my acting should come across. The acting was important but was not the sole focus.On upcoming projects.I am doing two more projects with Amazon. Towards the end of the year. I am coming back with Kanan Gill for a live sketch show called Sketchy Behaviour. The goal has always been to create content that works globally. So, I want to tell my stories, but I also want to make those stories work globally.Die Trying, starring Kenny Sebastian, is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.