BOSTON — Alingon Mitra is one of Boston comedy’s rising stars. A Harvard graduate and former writer for The Harvard Lampoon, Mitra plays to the top of your intelligence, getting big laughs while subtly prompting you to look deeper into the world around you.
Mitra currently co-hosts and produces a free comedy show called “Extra Helpings” the third Wednesday of every month at 9 p.m. at Bella Luna Restaurant in Jamaica Plain. You can find him on twitter at @Alingon.
We asked Mitra five questions about himself and his life as a comedian.
Chris Duffy: How would you describe yourself?
Alingon Mitra: I have black hair, black eyes, and the build of someone who looks like he's been going to the gym, but doing the exercises wrong.
Were you always the funny one in your family?
No. I'm still not. If you asked our friends “who in my family is most likely to do comedy?” I don't think I'd even collect enough signatures to get on the ballot. My dad can make anyone laugh — kids, teenagers, adults — because of this Cosby-like mix of wit and affability. My mom cracks us up with her storytelling because she does great impressions. And no one in our family is as quick on his feet as my brother — it's impossible to heckle him without immediately getting shot down. Normally, I'm the one in the family who's laughing at what everyone else is saying. I just happened to be the one who decided to go on stage.
What do you do to take a break from comedy?
Eat. My mom makes delicious Indian food. So, in my ideal world, I would have at all times either a mic in my hand or a fork.
What's your process like when you write a joke?
Normally I wait for an interviewer to ask me a question and then I'll come back with a witty retort. On the rare occasions I'm not being interviewed, though, something I'll think is funny will pop into my head. I'll note it down. Later, I'll write out the bit, complete with punchlines. I'll perform the bit at an open mic. If it gets a positive reaction, I'll try to eliminate the deadweight and perform the refined joke at a show. Wash, rinse, repeat.
What's the strangest place you've ever performed?
I did a show once on the dance floor of a country club where the performers who went up before me were, one, a group of belly dancers and, two, a tap dancer. When the MC brought me up, she just called my name without mentioning I was going to be doing stand up. So, when I got on, the audience was looking at me like, "God, I sure hope he's not another belly dancer."
Chris Duffy is the editor of Paperweight Magazine, a new humor magazine for the iPad. He also produces and hosts “You’re the Expert,” a monthly show at Oberon that uses comedy to make academic research more accessible and exciting.
This program aired on September 16, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.