Naked - Papa CJ’s book & his latest performance show share the same title. This is a review of the book which I read after watching the show.
That Papa CJ is an award-winning, world-renowned international stand-up comedian is well known.
That he has has performed over 2000 shows in over 25 countries is also known.
That those accolades and reviews for his comedy performances include Forbes Magazine calling him ‘the global face of Indian stand-up’ and Harvard Business Review called him 'one of the most influential comedians around the world’ can also be googled.
That he really has a really wicked sense of humour is known only to those who have interacted with him. And watching his old shows on YouTube won’t do him justice or to your time!
The multiple roles of that Papa CJ play in sharing his experiences - as an author, and as a performer on stage - is interesting. It’s easy, breezy, saucy and not racy - with his own usual panache.
The book does not feel like reading a book. In parts, it has recollections of a bygone hormonal teenager; in parts, it shows the vulnerability of a despondent individual in an alien land, trying to make a living. In parts, it shows life’s raw wound that the individual made peace (or still making peace) with. And that all these emotions and memories are captured in a style that’s like a friend talking to you, makes it easy reading. More importantly, it does not say but has the message, that behind every personality, there is a mixed bag of emotions, wounds, lessons and moods that they carry, and personal experience. Yet a comedian is expected to be funny, but no one asks if they are happy!
Papa CJ opens up about his life. If the phrase “open book” were to be applied, it is to this one! From his boarding school shenanigans to escaping critics who wanted to knife him, to the 1980s Indian adolescent style of professing love (puppy or chubby love!) in the form of making “mixed-tape”, he takes the readers through those life-journeys. If you were born & lived in India between 1970 & 1985, this book would be highly relatable for most middle-class urban individuals.
As Papa CJ lays bare his life, from his childhood in Calcutta to the University of Oxford and his career path that took him around the world, you will smile or laugh it out. Papa CJ uses positivity as a filter in every life lesson that he uses as material for his stand-up comedy and the content in this book.
What do you attribute his success to, when he makes light of his own family with this :
“She was the youngest of seven siblings because there wasn’t a television set in their house”….
That was his introduction about his mother and that his maternal grandparents did not have a TV at home….
“If you want to know what Calcutta was like in the early 1980s, you can find there tomorrow…”
Papa CJ offers credit to all those who stood by him and he gives that with his entirety…
“When the chips are down, humans need to know how to behave with each other “ - Paul Clutterbuck, CJ’s first super boss @ IBM
The book is also about failures, disappointments, heartbreaks when he tells poignant stories and incidents that shook him up. The book has in-your-face humour. It also has subtle humour. Book is a nudge that life is about mixed bags of emotions at varying times. It is more about what we make our life to be ! They surely are “What they don’t teach you at an Oxford MBA” vignettes.
For someone who believes that “humour is a sure sign of intelligence”, I know that Papa CJ comes across with flying colours (even if he does not give a “flying-f@#&” about it). He has made his intelligence a tell-tale sign! Lucky that his name is “Chirag” and not a “Biswas” etc… If this book were any indication, I can’t imagine the laughter-riot that Papa CJ would have created with that one!
Thank you, CJ! A Stand-up to the (book in) stand! This is one “papa do preach” book! And thank you for writing this inspiring book. I can only reckon how much personal trial and tribulations you would have gone through, to peel layer after layer, to get “Naked” to the stands or on stage! And that is what his stage show “Naked” is all about. The show’s title probably creates an illusion of “A” rated script. It exceeds that - it hits you where is hurts the most - “emotions” and makes you grow up. #Naked-truth.
Hey CJ: keep us entertained. Poke us with your candour. Awaken us with your “didn’t you?” bluntness. There are many books that you need to write ahead until you hit the “Thatha CJ” state (“thatha” in Tamil means “grandfather”)…. As the book quotes Steve Martin saying “be so good that they can’t ignore you”, Papa CJ is here to stay, with his own pace, that he decides for himself!
(The author is an independent markets commentator, startup mentor and CEO coach. The views expressed are the authors' personal)