Papa CJ

Papa CJ

An Oxford-educated comic from Calcutta who took up comedy late in 2004, Papa CJ’s material revolves around his experiences as an Indian in the UK.

He quickly became a successful regular at the Gong Show at the Comedy Store, and in 2005 was a finalist in the Laughing Horse new act competition.

Outside of comedy, he has scaled an 18,000ft peak in the Himalayas, trekked into the Grand Canyon, flown paragliders and jumped out of an airplane. He also started the charity One Child, which helps educate children in rural areas of India.

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Official Website

Papa CJ: Naked

Melbourne International Comedy Festival review by Steve Bennett

Setting out his ‘philosophy’ for Naked, Indian comic Papa CJ promises to expose all his vulnerabilities until he is emotionally – and perhaps physically – naked in front of his audience.

He has to tell us this explicitly, for the first half of the show is largely generic stand-up of the ‘remember when…’ kind. He is far from being the first comedian to comment on the frustrating wait for porn in the age of dial-up, to reminisce about the analogue ways of recording music, or to recall dating when your phone was both tethered to a wall and easy for your parents to listen in on - the days when ‘epic’ really meant something.

It’s delivered slickly and eloquently, but for a stand-up who promised a soul-baring, it’s generic fare, almost devised by algorithm to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible, both youngsters and parents enjoying the humorous reminder of how technology divides the generations.

Since serving his apprenticeship on the UK circuit, CJ has been using that knowledge to help forge the fledgling stand-up scene in India over the past seven years, so it make sense that his approach is so mainstream; his content and approach needs to have wide appeal with too few comics to establish sub-genres.

He explains his background as he zips through his personal CV; the son of a Calcutta tea planter who escaped his working-class roots by investing in an Oxford MBA, he worked for IBM before going on an endless sabbatical to work on his comedy, reinventing himself as a cooler alter-ego (‘The woman love Papa CJ,’ he says, as opposed to plain old Chirag Jain) and returning to the subcontinent. It’s certainly been a varied life.

And then we do move into the more personal; the depression after a break-up, a bitter custody battle – and a couple of road tales from his comedy career to lighten the mood. He doesn’t entirely ditch the broad observational shtick (aren’t porn films badly plotted?) but this is largely content that means something to him.

Even with this deep-seated content, CJ is not the most naturally emotive performer, and he leaves his metaphorical boxer shorts on even on the saddest of stories – but he nonetheless conveys his heartache, and his vow to be a better person appears sincere.

There is still room for him to be a better comic, even after ten years in the business, but Naked is a dependably enjoyable hour with a narrative that gets more involving as the hour progresses.

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Published: 6 Apr 2015


Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2005

Best Of Hackney Empire New Comedy

Edinburgh Fringe 2009

Papa CJ: Slumdog Comedian

Edinburgh Fringe 2011

Papa CJ: One In A Bilion

Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Papa CJ: Naked

Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Papa CJ Happiness Project

Melbourne 2015

Papa CJ: Naked


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