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Indian comedy influencers see the fastest growth

Content creation in comedy, predominantly a product of the lockdown, is one the fastest growing and most-liked categories on social media

Samidha Jain
Published: Nov 6, 2023 04:52:40 PM IST
Updated: Nov 7, 2023 03:43:18 PM IST

Indian comedy influencers see the fastest growthKarishma Gangwal, popularly known as RJKarishma, takes inspiration from day-to-day family conversations
There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour,” Charles Dickens had once said. Cut to 2023, and perhaps the same could be said of social media too.  

A new breed of content fiends is marrying the two and producing reels and videos that has the nation in stitches. These comedy content creators—the likes of Meethika Dwivedi, Raj Grover, Saloni Gaur, and Vishnu Kaushal—comprise nearly a fifth of Forbes India’s Top 100 Digital Stars 2023 list, occupying 16 spots. The top three are also from the category.  

These creators—most of whom rose to fame during the lockdown–find inspiration in their surroundings and everyday situations, and use humour to turn them into short-form video spoofs. If you find your co-worker, or your co-passenger on the local train, giggling to themselves, it could very well be a video by RJKarishma playing the part of a daughter-in-law troubled by her “mummy-ji” or Chandni Mimic’s imitation of Alia Bhatt.

Comedy influencers are also the flavour of the season for brands, who are collaborating with them for brand promotions. “Collaborations with comedy influencers are quite effective because these influencers are great writers and they understand the hooks and nudges that work well for the audience. Most of them have managed to find a sweet spot between entertainment and promotions, which is a win-win for the brands they partner with and the audience they have built,” says Hitesh Rajwani, CEO, Social Samosa.

Forbes India spoke to some of these creators to discover their fascinating journeys.  
Karishma Gangwal, popularly known as RJ Karishma would imitate Komolika from the popular 90’s Tv serial Kasautii Zindagii Kay as a kid. She would lock herself in a room, drape her mother’s sari and put on make-up before delivering dialogues of the popular vamp. A teenager at the time, Gangwal didn’t know she was sowing the seed for a career in entertainment and comedy. Expression and entertainment always fascinated her, and she chose radio as a medium after her graduation in 2015. But the Covid-19 pandemic led her to think hard about putting a face to her voice, and she decided to try content creation. “Somewhere in 2021, I first made a funny video about the everyday saas-bahu (mother-in-law–daughter-in-law) banter and showed it to my sister. I didn’t want to put it up, fearing what people would think, but my sister insisted. That video got 1.3 million views in just three days and it felt like something had clicked overnight,” says Gangwal, 30. 

A keen observer, she takes from day-to-day family conversations to make funny videos. With 6.4 million followers on Instagram, RJKarishma describes herself as a ‘satya ghatna par adharit comedy karne vali ladki’ (a girl making comedy taking from true incidents). Born and brought up in Jammu, she comes from a family of engineers and doctors and felt the pressure to go into the same field growing up. But convincing her parents about her career as a comedy creator became a little easier when even her first few videos started gaining popularity, leading her follower count to grow from 45,000 to 2 million in just a few months.  

Gangwal observes her surroundings and picks up on people’s way of speaking, interesting anecdotes, funny accents and words. Once she makes a note of them in her head, she sits down with a pen and paper to write down a script that she then shoots, edits, and uploads. She believes in constant experimentation in order to stand out.

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Gangwal has collaborated with brands including Sprite, DTDC, and Amazon Dot. She also made it to Forbes Asia’s 30 under 30 list of 2023, and has been invited to host IIFA, attend India Couture Week, and to Sydney for the T20 World Cup to interact with Indian and international cricketers. 

Indian comedy influencers see the fastest growthAbhinav Chand aka RJAbhinavv has 4.2 million followers on Instagram
Abhinav Chand, who fans know as RJAbhinavv, enjoyed doing theatre and street plays in college. He was interested in shooting and editing videos and used YouTube tutorials to learn the skill. The 32-year-old RJ-turned-comedy-content-creator started with sharing share his content on Facebook in 2016. Cut to today, Chand has 4.2 million and 2.5 million followers on Instagram and YouTube, respectively.
Immensely popular for his mehendi-wala videos, Chand takes insights from everyday situations, and portrays them in a very ‘as-is’ fashion. Besides making reels for Instagram, he also manages three YouTube channels, two of which are a mix of comedy and vlogs, and one is dedicated to tech.  
Comedy was always one of Chand’s skills, but he never thought he would make a career out of it. “After I left my job as an RJ, which came as a shocker to my family, I gave myself six months. I wanted to try content creation, but I never imagined it would lead to so much fame,” says Chand. After he left his job, Chand’s parents would often find themselves in a conundrum when people asked, “Chota wala kya kar raha hai?” (What is your younger son doing?) Today, he smiles proudly as he sees that no one needs to ask.

For Chand, it is important to keep reinventing himself and staying away from the comfort zone. “I think it’s very important for the creator community to keep refreshing talents to keep the fresh creative work going,” he says.  

Having gained popularity during the pandemic, Chand has since been invited to movie premieres, collaborated with Star Sports, and was the first comedy content creator from India to walk down the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Indian comedy influencers see the fastest growthChandni Bhabhda, aka Chandni Mimic, is famous for imitation of actor Alia Bhatt

Chandni Bhabhda, known best for her mimicking skills as Chandni Mimic, has become a household name with her brilliant and to-the-point imitation of actor Alia Bhatt. As a kid, Bhabhda would mimic her teachers and relatives in front of the camera, which she considered her “best friend”. The 24-year-old who started off her journey in comedy content creation in 2016 wears many hats today. She graduated as a lawyer, is a mimicry artist, a VJ, and an actor. Bhabhda has acted in the recently released comedy show Constable Girpade on Amazon Mini TV. “I loved having the freedom to just create content and make people smile. Hence, after I got my law degree, I decided to try this out for a year. Ever since, content creation has become my calling,” says Bhabhda.  

Bhabhda’s parents wanted her to get a Master’s degree in law as a backup. “I understand that it came from a place of concern, but I believe that sometimes it’s important to just listen to what your heart says,” she adds.

When it comes to content ideation and creation, Bhabhda sees herself as a spontaneous creator. Sometimes, she randomly gets into a character, with proper clothes, jewellery, and starts rolling. She reminisces that some of her best content has come out of spontaneity.

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Bhabhda is a team player. She says she is very proud of the fast-growing community of comedy content creators and boasts how they are not limited to just social media, but are also cracking web shows, movies, events etc. “We are everywhere and that represents the growth of the community,” she says.

Indian comedy influencers see the fastest growth Raj Grover is one of the youngest comedy content creators in India
Raj Grover, 18, is one of the youngest content creators in the country. Speaking to Forbes India on a call on his way to tuition, Grover says that owing to his videos on Instagram, he has become the most popular boy in school. Grover started making comedy videos when he was 13, but found an audience and fame only in 2021. As a student, he manages his academic commitments and also shoots and edits his videos. For some videos, his mother, who also features in his reels, chips in.

Grover is among the fastest-growing comedy content creators in India and has over a million followers on Instagram and over 10 million on YouTube. His videos take insights from sibling relationships, parents’ comments, teacher’s imitations, and other day-to-day situations that students and teenagers have to deal with. Coming from a family of doctors, Grover says his parents wanted him to prepare for the medical entrance exam, but it wasn’t something he was keen on. He decided to choose Commerce as his stream. “Once, after finishing my board exams, I stepped out of the examination hall and found a crowd of people waiting outside. As I walked out, all of them cheered for me—that was one of the most memorable moments for me,” says Grover.

With brand collaborations and meeting celebrities for promotions, Grover is already earning, and is focussed on growing his online community. He plans to continue making comedy reels, and wants to also try getting into the field of music. 

Indian comedy influencers see the fastest growth As she continues to create funny reels and interview celebrities, Meethika Dwivedi aspires to step into the field of news and sports
Meethika Dwivedi, 19, made her Instagram account when she was 15, and by her 16th birthday, she had a community of 10,000 followers. Like many creators, the lockdown was when Dwivedi realised that she loves creating comedy videos. Reels by other comedy creators like Kusha Kapila and Dolly Singh inspired Dwivedi to try it out. “I used to look at their videos and think this is something that I anyway do everyday—jokes, rants, imitations—why not make my own videos and put them out,” she says.

Towards the end of the lockdown, celebrities had started following her, and she became popular in school, events and society gatherings. A BBA first-year student in Lucknow, she has 2.8 million Instagram followers, and does everything for her videos, from scripting to shooting to editing, with some help from her mother occasionally. She takes from everyday situations, and banks on her dialect and accent to add a fun element to her videos. “I firmly believe that it’s best to only put out videos which I feel are funny. If I am not getting good ideas, I don’t force the content on my followers,” Dwivedi adds.
Dwivedi’s parents were okay with her social media presence as long as they were in the loop. “I told my mother that I will use the page to make music content, to convince her to let me make an Instagram page. Since I had previously represented Uttar Pradesh in national singing competitions, my mother agreed,” she says. That’s why her Instagram handle is called The Sound Blaze.   

Dwivedi’s fame has proven to be beneficial for her friends. “Whenever we are hanging out, my friends don’t carry money. They assume I will pay because I am the only one earning amongst them. They now treat me like their mother,” Dwivedi chuckles.  

While she continues to create funny reels on Instagram and interviews celebrities such as Rajkummar Rao, Virat Kohli and Jimmy Shergill, Dwivedi aspires to step into the field of news and sports. Recently, she has been signed by Star Sports as their youngest commentator and also has her own podcast called ‘Meetha and Teekha with Meethika’. 

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Indian comedy influencers see the fastest growthVishnu Kaushal feels comedy content creation is a “huge cake” and everybody can have their piece

Vishnu Kaushal and his cousins liked making funny videos as kids even with bad camera phones that would only give blurry images. “Around 2014-15, after finishing high school, two of my friends and I wanted to do something fun—start a music band, or create a YouTube channel. We didn’t have enough skills to make music, so we started making funny videos for YouTube,” says the 25-year-old creator. While Kaushal’s friends dropped out, he realised he enjoyed being in front of the camera and making content for people.

When he started off, Kaushal had only a few thousand followers on YouTube and Instagram. It was only in 2019 when he started creating content for Instagram, and in just a year, his page blew up. Currently, Kaushal has 2.3 million followers on Instagram, and he is popular among the youth for his funny portrayal of teacher-student conversations, banter between cousins, Bollywood vs reality videos among others.  

According to Kaushal, content creation isn’t an easy process. “It is hard for me to make a schedule for something like comedy content because you can’t be just funny when you’re not feeling funny or on a sad, gloomy day. It has to come from a place of honesty,” he says. As far as competition is concerned, Kaushal believes that it is a “huge cake” and everyone can take their share. The competition mentality comes from a place of scarcity, he says, but if someone is genuinely creating what they want and are enjoying it, that’s enough. To connect with his fans, Kaushal aspires to be open to learning new things, new skills and new ways to express himself.
Kaushal has featured in an online TV series called Feels Like Home, has started his own clothing brand and has been able to release his family off of a debt, which he thinks is one of his biggest milestones.

Indian comedy influencers see the fastest growthSaloni Gaur got famous for playing characters such as Nazma Aapi and Adarsh Bahu, and has a show on SonyLiv

In 2019, Saloni Gaur was a bored college student with nothing much to do except study. In her free time, she would watch funny videos of other comics and content creators with her friend who thought that Gaur herself was very funny and could do this too. She tried one and loved it.
With 1.3 million followers, Gaur’s content is usually observational comedy. Coming from a middle-class family, she focuses on scenarios people can relate to. “I believe that the most important thing to keep in mind while making comedy content is to stay authentic, true to oneself,” says Gaur. Her reels often include her family members, especially her grandmother, who Gaur believes is the source of her funny bone. Gaur’s brother Shubham is also a comedy content creator.  

The 24-year-old got famous for playing characters such as Nazma Aapi and Adarsh Bahu, taking inspiration from her relatives and neighbours. Besides content creation, Gaur also forayed into acting and was one of the protagonists in Campus Diaries, a series on MX Player. She also started her own show—Uncommon Sense With Saloni—on Sony Liv, when she was 20.

(This story appears in the 03 November, 2023 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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