Meet Alingon Mitra, Comedy’s Comeback Kid
Finish up Halloween weekend right this weekend with a few laughs provided by Boston’s own Alingon Mitra, who will take the stage at Nick’s Comedy Spot Saturday after appearing on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson Friday.
After graduating from Harvard and working as an accountant, Mitra started out doing standup because he loves telling jokes and staying up late. Lucky for him, after three years at the mic, the 27-year-old comic started gaining some traction. Last year, Mitra won the Boston Comedy Festival, where he split the cash prize with his fellow contestants, and this past summer, he was voted “Comedy Comeback” on Last Comic Standing.
While prepping for his upcoming shows, Mitra—who now lives in New York—took some time to talk with us about Boston memories, favorite comics, and more.
What are some of your most memorable moments of starting out in Boston?
Starting out, I did a lot of shows that were fairly inglorious: I did a show at a club for two people, where I ended up just handing them a list of my jokes and had them pick which ones they wanted to hear. I performed after a belly dancing troupe in this show at a country club where the audience was old enough to have fought in World War I. I did a cancer benefit where the audience didn’t know there was going to be comedy, but the DJ just introduced me and had me tell jokes on the dance floor.
Boston is also unique in that sports will play a major role in the quality of the shows. I remember doing an open mic when the Bruins were in the playoffs, so the bar kept the TV on even though it was right behind the performers, so I couldn’t tell if people were groaning at my punch lines or a missed shot.
Do you think Boston helped form your style in any way?
Boston definitely informed my style. I think Boston crowds like a good performance, but we put a heavy premium on the jokes and the thoughts behind the jokes. Even if their delivery is different, the great comedians who came out of Boston all tend to have tight material containing original thoughts. My hope is to follow in that legacy.
Who are some of your favorite Boston comedians?
There are these giants of comedy—Louis C.K., Bill Burr, Patrice O’Neal—who came out of Boston. Their impact on standup has been so far-reaching that it’s almost silly to mention them. So, apart from them, every once in a while Myq Kaplan, Joe List, or Gary Gulman would be visiting home and do a set in Boston. I’d always try to catch their sets because I really admire their comedy. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if, in the future, those names are being put alongside the ones I mentioned first.
What was your experience like on Last Comic Standing?
Definitely surreal. Growing up, I’d watch the show on TV, so it doesn’t feel real when you suddenly get a chance to be on it. It’s like going to Fenway and then being told you’re going to pinch-hit. I’d fallen on NBC’s radar after winning the Boston Comedy Festival, so I was brought in for an audition. I still hadn’t really anticipated being on the show, but I ended up being one of the 100 comics they called back. We began taping after that.
What have you been up to since Last Comic Standing?
Hold on. I’m getting a call from Jay-Z. I keep telling him to stop bothering me. What was the question? What have I been up to since Last Comic Standing? I mean, the process really hasn’t changed. I’ve continued to write jokes and perform them every day. What’s changed has been that I get to perform those jokes in different venues, so now I’ll get the opportunity to perform at clubs outside of New England as well as at colleges. I also got a chance to perform at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, which was such a thrill because once a year, that festival brings together so many comics I love to watch. I also got to do some more standup on TV through Adam Devine’s House Party on Comedy Central as well as the upcoming Ferguson spot. And since I’m mainly in New York now, I’m getting to experience that city’s great comedy scene now too.
Are you going to try your hand in other avenues—like script, sketch, or acting?
I think standup comedy will be my central focus, but it will be nice to dip my feet in these other comedy waters. Standup is a pretty independent pursuit, which can be very rewarding, but I also think it’d be really fulfilling to collaborate with funny people too.
What have been the best or worst parts about the move from Boston to NYC?
There are so many stages and amazing comics in New York City, so I think the best part is being able to watch and perform so much. The worst part is not having my mom’s home-cooked food readily available.
What are you looking forward to most from your appearances at Nick’s Comedy Spot and the Late Late Show?
Saturday night I’m excited for the meal my mom’s going to make after the show. The way I eat when I visit home, you’d think I was a refugee. And the Ferguson spot is awesome because there’s a rich legacy of comedians doing standup on late-night shows and this will be my first time getting to be a part of that tradition, so I’m very excited about that.
$20, Saturday, November 1, 8 p.m., Nick’s Comedy Stop, 100 Warrenton St., Boston, nickscomedystop.com.