Nervous? I am like a little puppy in a pitch-dark room!” says comedian Jamie Lever, as we meet during the run-up to her next stage performance. “So, this is my combat strategy: I make sure I look cool and confident (though on the inside, I am a tangled mess of nerves) and sit confidently like a boss, with my legs splayed, chest out, and with a smug look…Then I carry that persona on stage. It helps. Fake it till you make it. Don’t they say that at Ted talks?” We guffaw and the mood is set for a rambling conversation.
“But I feel it is good to feel nervous as you stay grounded,” says Jamie. Tough to believe that she feels nervous, as she has wrapped up over 150 live shows with her dad — the evergreen comedian Johnny Lever. “I love my dad, but being Johnny Lever’s daughter is both a boon and a bane. People expect me to crack a joke every other minute or randomly spout his dialogues from his films, or go ‘yabba dabba jabba’ or something,” says Jamie.
“It is a blessing because people treat me with so much respect. Dad’s got so much goodwill in the industry. But he never wanted to me to get into the entertainment business, what with the late hours, nonsensical schedules, the seamier side, etc. He has always been so protective. Just so that you get the drift, sleepovers were never allowed as he always says you have your own home and bed to come back to. Past 6 pm, he would start asking what time I was coming home,” explains Jamie. Talking about her turning point, she says, “My dad was touring the UK when I told him that I wanted to be a stand-up comic. So, he came to London to audition me. I had mustered up the passion, confidence and scripted my own act. He made a few changes and gave me 10 minutes on stage as part of his show. I was zapped at the thunderous ovation I received.” But did Jamie ever dream of being a comedian? “No! Even today, aunties sidle up and say, ‘Kuch life mein serious karogi ya…
Shilpi Madan for Sunday Herald