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August 14, 2017

Funny Man Jose Covaco Predicts A Future That Belongs To Content Creators

Illustration by Tanya Bareria

Every Indian pop culture follower’s favourite comedian tells you why there hasn’t been a better time than now to be an independent content maker

There’s so much to cover here, so let’s start with what’s important: I’m not famous. Amitabh Bachchan is famous, and everyone doesn’t get to be ‘Bachchan famous’. Fame is an illusion — it’s not completely useless, but it will be gone one day. Don’t let it mean anything to you. If you can afford to, do your thing because you love doing it. Make stuff because it makes you happy. Put some love into it, and try to create what makes other people happy as well. Do everything else for money.

There hasn’t been a better time than now to be an independent content maker. Our phones shoot in 4K, internet speeds are way better than the days of dial-up modems. Children today don’t even know what that means! With Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, everyone can be their own broadcasting network. And TV channels still spend lakhs on creating content that no one watches while some dude showering at home with a jackfruit gets seven trillion hits. The truth is that no one really knows anything and you never know what will ‘go viral’…so don’t sit on your ideas. Good content will travel far; it doesn’t matter where it starts. But what happens after? People get bored so easily; many people stopped reading this a paragraph ago. Attention spans are lower than ever, so whatever you come up with has to be spectacular or you shouldn’t even bother with it. Fame is a byproduct of working hard, working smart, being awesome, being consistent, and a bit of luck. So whatever it is you do, do it consistently. The catch? Even if you do all these things, there’s no guarantee you’ll be famous.

Give me the fortune, keep the fame…. Forget quick fame. Buying likes and followers will get you nowhere, because you’ll end up with tons of likes but hardly any comments and everyone will know you bought likes and followers, chor saalaa.

My personal experience as a content creator started with telling my parents lies about how well I did in my exams. Over time, I have gotten better at it. My first job was at a radio station, many years later I moved on to MTV, and then I went digital full-time. The internet is an incredible place. Yes, it can be a bit of a mess because of things like fake news, but it is still a beautiful, ever-evolving dream world that we can touch, with our keyboards and our mice and our phones.

So be honest. Give credit where it’s due. All you Facebook pages and Twitter joke thieves, don’t steal jokes and memes from other people just because it’s so easy. We work hard on our stuff, you shameless meme-stealing buggers. Seriously though, there’s nothing I love more, because I get to be myself to the max. You can make a video or tell a joke or share an opinion and people will tell you if it’s rubbish within seconds. Feedback is instant — I love it. Still, after making a load of videos over a long period of time, I’ve still barely managed to get digital followers because, as a matter of principle, I decided not to buy any. You can see for yourself by looking for ‘hoezaay’ on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Anyway, no one should use the word ‘anyway’ at the start of a sentence. So, I leverage my non-existent following on these platforms and charge clients or brands money in exchange for creating content for them and sharing it as well. But being ‘that MTV guy’ and being a Shakib Al Hassan and Pragyan Ojha look-alike gave me a head start so I’ve been really lucky. I now make videos with my good friend Cyril D’Abs, which my wife makes better by telling me what to do when I’m editing them.

Now, social media is a complete waste of time if all you’re doing is consuming it. Think about how you can use it to be productive, in whatever way that may be. For example, I reply to people on Twitter using only GIFs and it makes me laugh. Honestly, I’m addicted to getting, reading, and clearing notifications and messages of praise about me and my videos from different social media apps — just like everyone else today.

The Joke’s On You
It is a beautiful thing to be able to make fun of yourself. Get down from your high horse, get off that pedestal — for some reason, people think you’re a nice person if you do this. So make sure you master this skill. If you can’t make fun of yourself, you shouldn’t be making fun of anyone else — I think that’s fair enough. How you deal with other people making fun of you…now that’s something you should think about. Imagine being at a roast, and people aren’t holding back. I can feel you clenching, you’re gulping a bit, and that’s fine. These are normal reactions. But can you laugh it off once everything is done? I’ve heard that that’s what it’s like for famous people on social media. People are making fun of them 24/7. So if you want to be famous you have to learn to either laugh at yourself or turn your notifications off.

What Now?
I can’t pretend to know what the future holds, but more people are using their mobile devices than ever before — and that’s all you really need these days. You, with your phone and nothing else, can beat huge cash-rich television channels. The good news is that everyone can be a journalist now, but that’s also the bad news. This whole thing could implode on us, which is why I say make the most of it while it lasts. The future belongs to honest, innovative and consistent creators. Make your content the celebrity, because content is king and it always will be.

For now, I’ll keep making videos and continue messing around online…I have no idea really. Like people say, I like to take things as they come. (Translation: I’m lazy and have zero ambition.) I want to do stand-up comedy and I will, soon. Much like the internet, you know instantly if you’ve bombed. Maybe I’ll form some kind of comedy collective, include Cyril, and call it the Pagal Project. I’m also writing a movie with a bunch of friends; who knows where life will be in three weeks? So if you’re going to waste time on the internet, waste it well. Godspeed, user.

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