Post Thumb

Brands like Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk and Cornetto are positioned on young romance and they focus mostly on making ‘cute’ ads. Their foray into branded content is also ‘safe play’ by making romantic music videos (Dairy Milk Silk’s collaboration with Jasleen Royal). 

The app brands which are actively shaping dating culture work with influencers to create content, which is something that we have also written about.

However, when we were doing our culture search and study, we came upon a white space in youth culture, at the intersection of dating experiences and stand-up comedy. Dating as an activity has evolved over time in India and has become inherently enmeshed in contemporary youth culture with the advent of dating apps. 

Stand-up comedy is also very much entrenched in the same youth culture. The triangulation of brands positioned on romance, dating, and stand-up presents a hitherto unexplored opportunity.  At the very least, it should make for more interesting Valentine’s Day content from brands.

Stand-up comedians often have very interesting takes on dating. Dating provides a good amount of fodder for stand-up comedy material as these are human interest stories, and everyone loves to have a laugh about their dating experiences and quirky stories.

In this article, we take a look at some examples of stand-up comedians from different cities and classes across India and their perspectives on dating culture and dating apps. To offer a more balanced perspective, we have selected comedians from big cities and small towns, men and women.  

Ramya Ramapriya

Ramya Ramapriya is originally from Bengaluru. She talks about her dating experience in Mumbai, a relatively bigger city than Bengaluru. According to Ramya, the dating culture in Mumbai is akin to the pace of a Mumbai local train: volatile and transient.

Ramya touches upon many topics in this bit. From her disdain for Tinder (which she regards as a ‘mainstream’ app) to her absurd experiences on Hinge, which she uses because she views herself as an artist who breaks conventions.

However, the caveat of Hinge for Ramya is that, unlike Bumble or Tinder, Hinge requires conversation starters. And according to Ramya, that’s one thing that men are bad at. Ramya believes that men have nailed the ‘picture game’ of dating but still lack quite dismally in their conversation skills. 

She also compares her awkward experience of buying i-pills to men’s experience of buying condoms. She shares how much embarrassment she has to go through while buying an i-pill, while men can be freer while buying condoms as it is ‘an act of hope’.

Ramya is uninhibited when talking about sex, there’s a certain degree of openness when she talks about her dating experiences. One could attribute it to her being a woman from a big city. While people from small towns may be more inhibited or conservative when it comes to dating. She does not look at dating with disdain, but she describes how fast-paced and absurd it has become in big cities.


Prashasti Singh talks about the experiences of a small-town girl stuck in the dating pool of a big city. She looks at dating from a fresh perspective. She proclaims that romance in Mumbai is dead, as most people in Mumbai are just looking for something casual. 

She vociferously describes Tinder as a catalogue for desperate kids. Prashasti takes a different approach than Ramya. While Ramya is coming from a position of judgement and she is the one taking the calls when it comes to deciding on the man.

Prashasti has a more stereotypical and conventional approach to dating in India. Going from her stage persona, she feels a need to fit into the man’s criteria for dating; to sort of please him and be subservient. 

Although Prashasti says that she is averse to casual sex, she says that she once tried to convince herself to try it in the hopes that it’ll one day lead to marriage. Her experiences of dating have been with emotionally unavailable men and she feels a dissonance between what had been projected as romance in Bollywood films vs her lived reality of heartbreak. She realises that dating does not necessarily lead to marriage.

Parvinder singh- middle-class dating - change in dating culture

Parvinder Singh talks about how the dating culture has changed since 2014, after the advent of Tinder in India. He goes on to elaborate how earlier men used to contact women on Facebook to ask them out for a date and be dismally ignored or rejected, but now times have changed. Men can now swipe right on women and ask them out; however, he elaborates that constantly swiping on all women has ruined the dating market for men. He says that since women now have the power to match with any man that they swipe upon, they have started acting more “pricey” and treating men as expendable.

He also briefly touches upon the socio-economic modalities of dating. He goes on to elaborate as to how middle-class couples have to go to shady places to share a moment of intimacy with each other. Parvinder talks about his own dating experience and going to the parking lot of West Gate Mall in Rajouri Garden to spend some time with his date, he elaborates that he saw Maruti Suzuki’s Alto and WagonR cars lined up in the parking lot. Clearly implying that this is a middle-class phenomenon.

He also talks about how the moral boundaries of the middle class are being reshaped.  Due to the anonymity, married people have also explored dating apps.

Anand Rathnam

Anand Rathnam talks about the transient nature of interactions on dating apps, especially Bumble. Anand points out the dilemma of matching with a pretty girl on Bumble. He says it puts pressure on him because you have to impress them quickly since they have a lot of other boys queued up also. 

He thinks that breaking the ice with women on Bumble is like being on Shark Tank: you are put on the spot and then you have to compete. He thinks women are on the back foot on Bumble because men try to make every app into a dating app.

Actionable insights:

From the content presented by stand-up comics, it is evident that dating has become accepted and almost normative in youth culture, especially in the big cities. And this presents the opportunity for brands to connect more deeply with youth audiences on the topics of dating, romance, love, and everything that surrounds it, in a very real and grounded manner.

Instead of chasing the big names for big monies, brands can also partner with up-and-coming stand-up comedians to create more innovative and original branded content as well as user generated content.  

Ideas to explore via collaboration can be many. They can range from sponsoring the sets of stand-up comics and promoting their videos as sponsors at the most basic level to weaving in the brand’s product (ice cream, chocolate, car, bike, dating app for e.g) into the dating story to having the comics ask their audience to send in their dating mishap story to be selected and used in a performance.  

The main point for brands to keep in mind when they collaborate with stand-up comics is that they should not impose the brand’s logic on the content, rather they should leave it to the creator to weave the brand most seamlessly into the content so that the audience stays connected both to the influencer/creator and to the brand.