B-School Made Me Funny
By Anadi Misra '14 | february, 2013, Issue 1
Anish Shah shares some comedic MBA wisdom. (Courtesy of Anish Shah)
B-school sure makes one a lot of things, but I didn't know that funny was one of them. So one fine Thursday night, right in the middle of my sleepwalking through my résumé days, I decided to check out Anish Shah's 'B-School Made Me Funny' comedy show on Jan. 31 at Timothy O'Toole's Pub. This event was specifically targeted at Boothies, and we did not disappoint with our solid turnout.
Anish Shah, Yale MBA, McKinsey alum and the star of the show, quickly got to work by connecting with his audience, finding out their back-stories, and then making fun of them. Some of his most loved bits were about bankers/consultants (but, of course!) and why the Joker (of the Batman fame) was a bad businessman for not investing in technology (unlike Batman), and for not having a well-laid out business strategy. It was a fun-filled hour and a half, and we caught up with Anish and fellow performer Mick Montesi '14 after the show. Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Chicago Business: I know how Indian parents can be really demanding when it comes to career choices for their kids. So how did your parents react when you told them that you wanted to quit your plum corporate job and become a stand-up comedian?
Anish Shah: Well, first they asked me if they had done anything to make me mad. Basically the way I made the decision was I just thought through what I could do to disappoint them most and this is what I came up with. But in all honesty, they have been super-supportive. Because I had a good corporate career prior to comedy, they were confident that I would always have a roof over my head and food on my table, so they were cool. So the 10 years of corporate career and five years at McKinsey helped. In the end, all they want from you is to not turn out horrible. My parents come to a lot of my shows and love the fact that they are the stars in some of my routines.
CB: So, are you on a short sabbatical from the corporate world or is this for the long haul?
AS: I don't know. It is definitely not a sabbatical from McKinsey. I am taking it one day at a time. As long as I can survive and have fun, I will keep doing that. Maybe in future, I'll go back to business or do something equally dumb like write a book! My main objective is to entertain myself. As long as I can keep doing it through comedy, I will stick to it. Plus the business background helps me get lots of corporate gigs.
CB: How do you handle a heckler?
AS: Hecklers are essentially people who want attention. So it is better to just give them some attention. However, if the hecklers are persistent, then you go by how the audience perceives them. If they annoy the audience, then you go after them. If they like them, then you engage them; make them a part of the banter. And sometimes, it leads to great shows. So, as a comedian, it is important to be able to gauge your audience and see what they respond to.
CB: Any advice to aspiring comedians at Booth?
AS: First of all, they need to know that they made a really poor choice on how to spend that $150K. But in all seriousness, if you are passionate about something, just go for it. When I started, I would work all-day and then go to small bars at night and perform for like six people. But I still loved it. So if you are having fun, keep doing it. The advantage you have as a business person is that you can handle the business aspect of being an artist as well, which is quite helpful.
CB: How can people learn more about you or keep up with your career exploits?
AS: I am on Facebook (www.facebook.com/anishcomedy) and Twitter (@anishcomedy).
We also caught up with Mick after the show, who told us that he had been thinking about doing standup comedy for a long time but never took the initiative until today. Mick found the audience to be very encouraging and felt things got much better after the first couple of routines. Mick had a follow-up act the same night and the last I heard he was scheduled to perform at The Abbey Pub the following week. Looks like B-school is indeed making some people funny!