This may sound a bit atypical, but comic actuary is a term and today we have with us one such comic Actuary having experience of over 8 years of Actuarial corporate life, Aditya Shah. Aditya is currently designated as Manager in HDFC Life. His usual places to perform stand-up comedy are kitty parties, birthday parties or any gathering with more than or equal to one person, but recently when I heard him during the 2020 IAI’s GCA, I was shocked to see an Actuary comedian who actually can make people laugh outside board rooms!
We asked Aditya Shah who is an Actuary, a few questions on his Actuarial and comic journey and below are his responses.
TAC: How has been your professional journey so far as an Actuary?
Aditya Shah: The journey so far has been extremely challenging but equally fulfilling.
I started off in a Pensions Consulting role and then moved to a Life Insurance company. In that sense, I have seen both sides – the soft skills and business development side in my first job and then a hard core number-crunching side in my current job.
I have met some awe-inspiring people along the way who have encouraged, inspired and pushed me to excel in Life (pun intended).
TAC: We have heard that Actuaries are boring and are always serious. What’s your take on that?
Aditya Shah: I think that is just a perception. Our role requires us to sit at our desks, typing away Prophet codes, using “complicated” excel formulas. This I think is perceived as “boring” and/or “serious”. And obviously, the no. of exams that we take just helps in people perceiving us that way.
But I do agree that we tend to bore people with our “actuarial jokes” 😜.
TAC: Aditya Shah, you are an Actuary. How did you get the idea of being a comic alongside Actuaries? Where was your first show and how was it?
Aditya Shah: After 8 years of corporate life, I kind of had a realization that my “true calling” was something else. And it wasn’t very hard to figure that stand up comedy was what I wanted to pursue, because seeing the funny side of things comes very naturally to me.
My first open mic was on a weeknight. I went there directly after office – Nervous for sure. I had been rehearsing my jokes all day in the office. A few close friends had come to support me. I would like to believe that I didn’t do all that bad that night. Maybe, my friends would disagree.
TAC: You recently posted your first video on Youtube? How are the reactions so far?
Aditya Shah: Yes, I did release my first stand up comedy video on YouTube on 5 June. I have heard some positive feedback from friends, family, and complete strangers also. Hopefully, the readers of this can also check it out and let me know how what they thought about it.
TAC: Who’s your favorite comic and what’s your favorite bit?
Aditya Shah: Oh, I don’t have a particular favorite. But I do like various bits of different comics.
Kunal Kamra’s latest one, Zakir Khan’s brilliant storytelling skills come across in all his bits.
TAC: What is the best reaction of people with the Actuarial profession, you have seen so far when people hear you are a comic too? Do you think a level of comfort changes when they hear about your comic profession?
Aditya Shah: Everyone has been genuinely happy when I shared this with them. My AA and my manager have been extremely supportive which has made this switch easier.
Definitely, the way people look at you does change knowing fully well that everything that they say in my presence has the potential of becoming a joke in my next video 😋
TAC: What generally is the response of the fellow comedians with whom you perform when they come to know you’re an Actuary. If they ask “What’s that”, what’s your response to that?
Aditya Shah: My response to fellow comics depends on how tired I am when they ask me this question 😋. If very tired, then “Insurance-related”, Else “Make financial sense of the future”Endif
On a serious note, most of them a pretty impressed that I am pursuing two extremes of the spectrum.
TAC: Have you ever joked around the board room and seen pale faces while they don’t understand your jokes?
Aditya Shah: Many a time!
I must confess there have been times when I had to hide my face after a joke has backfired. But thankfully, I haven’t been fired yet 😋.
TAC: Is there any Actuarial technique you follow to connect with your prospective listeners like how many laughs on the punch line and understanding the audience’s reactions!?
Aditya Shah: Maintaining an excel sheet for everything is second nature to me.
I record most of my performances and then write down key points against each of them. I also try very hard to make it as sophisticated as possible with Index, Match and Data tables 😋.
TAC: How important do you think it is to step-in with another hobby/profession and how does it help in the primary profession?
Aditya: I think it is very important for anyone to have an outlet, other than the primary job. It definitely keeps your mind fresh. Sometimes time off from a regular job helps in coming back to it with even more enthusiasm.
One never knows what the hobby could lead to – An alternate profession which could be more fulfilling!!
Thanks for having me guys. It was great talking to you.
It was great having you over Aditya on The Actuarial Club. We would expect more of your videos! Wishing you luck for your future endeavors. May you achieve greater heights and millions of hits 🙂
Are you the one interested to be in our series of interviews, or do you know someone? Let us know in the comments below!