TV HOST - Nov 29th - 2008

My Former Life As a TV HostSaturday, 29th November
I walk amidst a thick crowd of people holding my trusty microphone and followed by a camera guy. A young girl in her early 20’s runs up to me “Hey Tarun! Can I be interviewed?”

I’m a bit thrown off. The way she asked it was almost as if she knew me personally.

“Um, ok”

Her face lights up. I see this look a lot.

I came to Hollywood to become the greatest stand-up comic I could be and yet somehow I developed into the weekly Bollywood host guy who pops up sporadically on the national cable show Showbiz India. For those who don’t watch the show, I guess I could compare it to being the goofy weatherman on TV. When I was recognized people would talk to me as if we had been friends since high school. It’s very hard to explain but this is the best way I can describe it.

To this day I have no idea how I became a Bollywood TV host. I grew up in New Hampshire away from all aspects of Indian culture and heritage. The job introduced me to South Asian parties, Indian restaurants, meeting cool stars and of course, led to me making a fool of myself for the general public.

I wouldn’t want to do it again, but it was a good experience, and I put some of the things I learned below in case someone out there has a similar opportunity that I had.


1. Don’t give up the mike. This is rule numero uno. Never let go. You are always in control. Even if someone grabs the mike, hold on. Without it, you are powerless.

2. Never give out your phone number no matter how friendly the person seems. Sometimes people would ask me for my number and I would give it out not thinking twice about it. Not only did I accumulate stalkers but I also got a lot more calls from random people who wanted a copy of their 3-second appearance on TV.

Stranger - “Hey Tarun, remember me from three months ago at club so and so. I was wearing the red dress?”

Me - “Of course! You and 400 other people. I’ve been waiting for you to call!”

3. When covering college parties, don’t hook up with girls. Sure, it’s easy and I would be lying to say that I didn’t try. Then I realized that the same girls go to the same parties every weekend! I quickly decided to do all my dating the normal way, internet chat rooms and Craig’s List.

3. Inevitably, at places where alcohol is served, someone will try to pick a fight with you and when that happens, step down. I attracted a lot of attention from girls and guys hated me! It got so bad that I took boxing lessons for two years because I thought I would get sucker punched. My fighting career never went beyond classes, but I’m proud to say that I do have a pretty good left hook.

4. If you interview a family and there’s a kid that looks mentally disabled. Don’t talk to him because he probably is mentally disabled. Let’s just leave it at that.

5. If some dude comes up to you and TELLS you to interview him or his girlfriend and you don’t want to, don’t do it. Remember, in your small hosting world you decide who makes it on TV and who doesn’t. Half the time, guys who demand to be interviewed are big time losers who drive their dad’s BMW’s and spend most of their free time getting wasted. Plus, their girlfriends don’t even want to be on camera which makes for unwatchable interviews

6. Did I mention don’t hook up with girls? I’m just saying….

7. Go all out. When someone has agreed to be on camera its on. I think what makes a good host the ability to show his/her true personality so you can’t hold back. My rule was to always say whatever I thought was funny. Let the editor cut out whatever is not appropriate. Sometimes from a 5 minute boring interview, 10 seconds may be gold.

8. Prepare! I did a bunch of press junkets. It’s where you sit one on one with movie stars talking about their upcoming soon to be released movie. The truth is you have a limited amount of time with the stars and everything is taped so you can’t mess up. I interviewed Neil Patrick Harris for Harold & Kumar 2. I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up but luckily I spent a few hours the night before and practiced asking questions into my camcorder. Yeah, it sounds stupid but it’s better to look like an idiot in the privacy of your home than on national TV.

9. Smile! Charisma is key.

10. Enjoy the moment. Do you know how many lame jobs there are? Whenever I was hosting and hated life I would think “I can’t believe I’m being paid to talk to people!” If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that nothing is permanent. Even jobs. If you ever have the opportunity to be in front of the camera, take it. You never know where it could lead to!

Attached below are the last of the hosting videos, which I shot for Showbiz India a few months back. I was pretty burned out but you can’t tell because I’m a pro. Damn straight.

Me covering a party:

Me covering India’s Independence Day Festival:


Tarun ShettyComment