Ajit Krishnamoorthy Gives Back

February 11, 2024

Photo Credit

Impact Headshots


Valerie Lopez


Richard Goodwin


On the 8th year anniver­sary, to the day, of record­ing the first episode of Com­e­dy Wham,Valerie sits down with a come­di­an who is known — at least par­tial­ly — for his work rais­ing mon­ey for those less for­tu­nate than us, who can’t speak for them­selves in ways that every­one can read­i­ly grasp. We’re speak­ing here, nat­u­ral­ly, of the Austin pet pop­u­la­tion.

If you were think­ing it was a fundrais­er for come­di­ans, then con­sid­er that you already have a direct line to help per­form­ers out called buy­ing tick­ets to their shows”. (If you need some sug­ges­tions, may I point you to com​e​dy​wham​.com/​e​vents for ideas?)

Ajit Krish­namoor­thy, host and pro­duc­er of Clowns for a Cause, saw the need to do what he could for our four-legged friends, and leapt up to help. The inau­gur­al show, ben­e­fit­ting the amaz­ing Austin Pets Alive, ran in Sep­tem­ber 2023, and was well received. He’s also been on our very own Com­e­dy Wham Show­case (host­ed by Valerie Lopez in Lake­way), and pop­u­lar show­cas­es like the Fall­out Tonight vari­ety show (Fri­days at Fall­out The­ater). Krish­namoor­thy also does mod­el­ing, mark­ing our first-ever Indi­an-engi­neer-come­di­an-mod­el guest, prov­ing that I can’t make up first time” cat­e­gories as spec­tac­u­lar as real life can deliv­er.

Grow­ing up in Mum­bai, Krish­namoor­thy had a decid­ed­ly dif­fer­ent view into the com­e­dy world than many young come­di­ans. Fed with a steady diet of clips from a TV chan­nel ded­i­cat­ed entire­ly to excerpts from com­e­dy movies, he and his broth­er devoured all they could. When Com­e­dy Cen­tral made its way to India, Krish­namoor­thy start­ed to get the tan­ta­liz­ing taste of a broad­ened set of mate­r­i­al and per­form­ers, though the Indi­an broad­cast cen­sors got to do their edits before the shows aired. I’d watch [a] spe­cial on Com­e­dy Cen­tral. And like, they’d cut out the punch line!,” Krish­namoor­thy jokes, clear­ly hap­py to have got­ten the expe­ri­ence in what­ev­er form he could.

Primed with more knowl­edge of what was out there to be had, Krish­namoor­thy head­ed to grad school at Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta. Upon dis­cov­er­ing the con­cept of stu­dent clubs, he imme­di­ate­ly joined a com­e­dy social club. For­mal­ly schooled in engi­neer­ing, Krish­namoor­thy head­ed to his first on-stage gig with excite­ment and a plan: a sheaf of papers with lit­er­al­ly every word of his set writ­ten down. Thank­ful­ly, those first steps were in a wel­com­ing environment.

I learned so much from that supportive environment, which I would probably not have gotten if I just started going out to an open mic
Ajit Krishnamoorthy

I learned so much from that sup­port­ive envi­ron­ment,” Krish­namoor­thy recalls, which I would prob­a­bly not have got­ten if I just start­ed going out to an open mic.” Open mics are a bit of an encap­su­la­tion of that thought as a uni­ver­sal truth: the bad ones will eat you alive, mis­step by tasty mis­step. Those aren’t the major­i­ty here, and it’s comics like Krish­namoor­thy, and estab­lished names like Hunter Dun­can (answer Valerie’s calls!), Bren­dan K O’Grady, and Dun­can Car­son, among many oth­ers, who have con­tin­ued to fight to make the scene as wel­com­ing as pos­si­ble.

Acknowl­edg­ing the correlation/​causation dilem­ma, we can’t help but won­der exact­ly how much those Indi­an cen­sors con­tributed to Krishnamoorthy’s decid­ed­ly clean” com­e­dy style. Clowns for a Cause was billed as a clean show­case” (though nobody told the Shih-Tzus), and was born from his mus­ing on how to con­tribute to a cause he felt strong­ly about. “…I’d been… vol­un­teer­ing with them, they do a lot of great work,” Krish­namoor­thy says of get­ting the idea: I thought why not help them out and give back to the Austin community.”

I think the funnest thing is watching a comic, and really enjoying their work, and only after the fact [realizing it was a clean set]
Ajit Krishnamoorthy

Austin Pets Alive! didn’t require the show, which raised over $8,000 for the orga­ni­za­tion, to be clean, but Krish­namoor­thy seems to see the con­cept as a bit of a chal­lenge. I think the funnest thing is watch­ing a com­ic, and real­ly enjoy­ing their work, and only after the fact [real­iz­ing it was a clean set]”. That sounds a bit more like Prod­uct Man­age­ment than Engi­neer­ing, focus­ing on the desired out­comes” vs the imple­men­ta­tion”; does Krish­namoor­thy have a sec­ond (now third, or fourth) call­ing? What we can say for sure is he’s look­ing to put on the next Clowns for Cause show, and we’ll tell you the moment we hear about it.

The thread of giv­ing back weaves through­out the time Krish­namoor­thy spends with Valerie. When asked the old chest­nut about why do you like com­e­dy?”, he comes back with a heart­warm­ing twist on the stan­dard answer. While acknowl­edg­ing the high that all comics chase from a suc­cess­ful show, his spir­it shows through, not­ing how reward­ing it is meet­ing room­ful of strangers and spread­ing that joy, giv­ing them a momen­t’s reprieve, mak­ing them laugh.” To inter­nal­ize what is giv­en as well as what’s giv­en back is to under­stand a greater por­tion of the rela­tion­ship between stage and seats, and helps to build an even stronger, more gen­uine con­nec­tion.

When asked about the future, Krish­namoor­thy looks inward and — in yet anoth­er nod to deliv­er­ing a bet­ter expe­ri­ence — says his focus is cur­rent­ly on improv­ing his writ­ing. The engi­neer seems to speak again here, as he notes how each show gives him an oppor­tu­ni­ty to pull jokes apart and put them back togeth­er, tight­en­ing” and revis­it­ing the draw­ing board when nec­es­sary. Every show, every oppor­tu­ni­ty, is a learn­ing expe­ri­ence,” he says, and the crowd’s role in the iter­a­tion is what I take away from it”.

For Ajit Krish­namoor­thy, who is so grate­ful for what he’s been able to achieve, and who desires to give so much back, we’ll call it a fair trade.

Fol­low Ajit

Ajit can be seen and heard:

  • Clowns for a Cause — com­e­dy show ben­e­fit­ing Austin Pets Alive! — STAY TUNED!!
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Ajit Krishnamoorthy