Student Spotlight: Neel Kolhatkar
Emily Shen spoke to controversial YouTube personality and former USyd economics student Neel Kolhatkar about the power of satire.
When he was five, Neel Kolhatkar dreamed of being an astronaut.
While he hasn’t landed on the moon yet, at 21, Kolhatkar is now one of Australia’s young comedy stars with his YouTube video ‘Australia in 2 Minutes’ generating over three million views.
Employing comedic satire and an arsenal of international accents, Kolhatkar’s YouTube profile is populated with videos lovingly mocking racial and gender stereotypes, Australian and university politics, and dating norms.
Kolhatkar is no stranger to controversy recently receiving international press coverage for his video ‘#Equality’ which criticises political correctness.
“If we’re too focused on being PC, we forget about the real issues,” Kolhatkar says. “We need to offend people sometimes to change values and to change society for the better.” But he does say he tries “not to cross the line”.
“So NOT True. Fuck off. We Australians aren’t all like that,” comments Jackson Williams on Kolhatkar’s ‘Australia in 2 Minutes’, a video which stereotypes areas like Western Sydney, Sutherland Shire and the Northern Territory.
But Kolhatkar believes it is satirical comedy and exaggeration based on truth and good taste that resonates with his audience the greatest. “There’s nothing that can highlight or criticise a social norm more than forcing people to laugh at it,” he says.
After winning the Melbourne Comedy Festival’s Class Clowns competition in 2009, Kolhatkar has since been focused on maintaining his strong social media presence as well as touring Australia with a string of stand up shows.
At the end of 2013, Kolhatkar paused his Economics degree at the University of Sydney to pursue his work in entertainment full-time.
“It was when I started making a decent amount from my stand up shows and my YouTube profile,” he says. “If you’re doing what you love, then you don’t really work a day in your life.”
For those wanting to throw their comedic hat in the ring, Kolhatkar offers some thoughtful advice: “Just be patient, don’t worry about criticism, be focused on what you believe in. The main thing is to find your voice.”
This article originally appeared in BULL Magazine, and has been republished with full permission.