Neel Kolhatkar - Truth Be Told
Katherine Sullivan | On 08, Oct 2015
After sell-out solo shows and tours across all major Australian comedy festivals plus a well-received debut season at last yearâ€™s Edinburgh Fringe and shows in New York, Los Angeles and London. Neel Kolhatkar returns to Brisbane with his second, brand-new solo outing Truth Be Told.
With a stage presence and skill that appear well beyond his 20 years Neel makes astute social and cultural observations while displaying flawless characterisations and voices, charismatic delivery and a sharp wit.
As prolific a stand-up comedian as he is at writing, producing and directing videos, Neel charms audiences with his impeccable foreign accents, faultless impressions, refreshingly amiable style of insightful observation and energetic delivery.
There is a reason this young man has over 650,000 followers across social media and Truth Be Told you cannot afford to miss this rising star of Australian comedy.
TCI: You sky-rocketed to Internet stardom with your YouTube video “Australia in 2 minutes”. What motivated you to make the video?
Neel Kolhatkar: To be honest I just felt like it. I’ve always wanted to satirise the different archetypes of geographical stereotypes whilst in turn making fun of stereotyping with the constant highly sarcastic repetition of characters. Thought it may hit a chord and it certainly did.
TCI: When did you realise ‘hang on, this YouTube video is getting a lot of attention’ and how did that feel?
Neel Kolhatkar: Probably just before or just after Australia in 2 minutes. It felt quite surreal at first, you never expect to actually make it big on the internet but after a while it was very fulfilling knowing all the hard work paid off. I did it all on mostly my own accord (have to thank all the cameramen and guest-stars too!)
TCI: Have you always wanted to pursue a career in comedy?
Neel Kolhatkar: For a long time yes, always a career in entertainment be it acting, comedy, film, TV, performing in general. Probably from when I was about 10 or 11 it’s been my passion.
TCI: You have been criticized in the past for your hard-hitting and at times scathing commentary on a wide range of topics. Are there times when you worry what you say will upset others? Or do you think that honesty is vital in comedy?
Neel Kolhatkar: Yes, I’ve been criticised by people from the right calling me out for being racist towards Australia saying I should hold my tongue because I’m an immigrant myself (I was born here, parents grew up here?) as well as from people on the left saying I’m too politically incorrect and offensive towards minority groups. As you say in the question much of my comedy is very honest and at times it is exaggerated for comedic effect but will always maintain that essence of truth and reliability. I worry occasionally that I may overstep the mark but I am willing to take that risk because for me, the best comedy pushes the boundary just enough to tread that fine line between tension and hilarity. This is simply my style, I like to find comedy in topics that society takes very seriously and my sense of humour can be very scathing and sardonic but there are obviously a lot of people who are on board with it.
TCI: You have achieved so much in such little time. What has been a career highlight for you?
Neel Kolhatkar: Well it may just be because it is at the forefront of my mind but I have a short film coming out hopefully next week and being able to achieve something like that and knowing it will be seen by a lot of people (which is what a lot of amateur film-makers struggle with). I am incredibly happy and proud of myself for having been able to generate this audience. So I suppose creating something like that is quite the highlight.
TCI: You are currently working on a web series in association with Screen Queensland. Can you tell our readers more about that?
Neel Kolhatkar:I don’t know much about it yet to be honest, I read the script very quickly but like what I saw, I am always happy to go back to my acting and maintain my skill there, so I will be acting in this web-series but I can’t tell you too much about it at this stage unfortunately.
TCI: Do you think YouTube is the way to go for rising comedians and any tips for others who are trying to break into the comedy scene?
Neel Kolhatkar: Yes I do, I use myself and other rising Australian comedians as examples. It is such an effective way to find your audience and get content out there without the need for traditional media. I think every comedian should be pro-active on social media albeit not being the traditional route to make it as a stand-up. it is growing increasingly as a verifiable platform and outlet and comedians would be silly to ignore it.
In terms of any pointers, just put yourself out there, make content and experiment until you find something that hits the mark. When you don’t have a huge audience you want to focus on quantity – getting what you can out there and building your audience as much as possible.
TCI: You have founded a small business that focuses on teaching improvisation and drama to small children and teenage. How important is it to you that children are given the opportunity to learn drama in a safe and friendly environment?
Neel Kolhatkar: It is very important, without the opportunities I had I would not have nearly the confidence I do now and ability in performance. This is my way of giving back and offering the same opportunities for younger kids who may be struggling to find their passion.
TCI: You have an insane amount of social media followers and subscribers. Do you ever have to stop and pinch yourself?
Neel Kolhatkar: All the time! It’s been a few years but I am still in awe when I get stopped and recognised by random strangers everywhere I go and I do all that I can to never lose sight of how lucky and blessed I am to be in this position.
TCI: Are there any comedians you would love to work with and why?
Neel Kolhatkar: My comedy idols have always been Chris Rock and Russell Peters, and I would LOVE to work with Kevin Hart right now!
What Neel Kolhatkar – Truth Be Told
Where The Tivoli, Fortitude Valley
When 9 October 2015
How Much $32.59
More information To purchase tickets, visit The Tivoli’s website here
Image Credits: Neel Kolhatkar