Knock Knock! Anybody There?

In a city bustling with cultural events and happenings, there seems to be a void when it comes to stand up. Alefiya Rashiq investigates.

After a hectic Friday at work, I welcomed the weekend with open arms. Imagine my fury when I couldn’t find a single movie to watch. The theater listings gave me no luck either. Desperate to get out, I spotted an ad of a stand up comedy show neatly flashing in front of my eyes. ‘Why was it my last choice for entertainment?’, I wondered. “Who cares,” I thought, “It’s making my weekend looking brighter!” Looking forward to an eventful night of gags and giggles, I felt I could treat myself to some laughter therapy. But then again I thought to myself, how often do you come across such shows running in Pune? And how well is this peculiar form of art received by Punekars?
They say that comedy is much more difficult than theater. Laughing is one business, making people laugh is another altogether. Having its origins in the early 19th century, stand up comedy has come a long way, right from the Vaudevilles (a theatrical genre) popular in USA to modern improv stand ups at the Comedy Store in London. Although its foray in India has been visibly late (around the 60s), the country has seen its share of performances by noted artists like Johnny Lever, Raju Srivastav, Vir Das, Kapil Sharma and recent youthful groups like AIB.

Vir Das
Vir Das

Pune, too, is not too far behind on the comedy circuit. Despite the dearth of such events in the city, one among the list of the most popular nights includes Freaking Highlarious at High Spirits. Says owner Khodu Irani, “High Spirits is among the first ones to bring comedy to Pune. It’s been four years now, and the response has seen an upward increase over time. Since it is an intelligent form of entertainment, it is not very mainstream, artists are limited, content is limited too, but the audiences are maturing and I definitely feel that comedy is here to stay”. Residency Club, Blue Frog, and few other pubs in town, too, have incorporated the concept of Open Mic Nights. Artists who frequent the city include Kanan Gill, Kenneth Sebastian, Abhishek Upmanyu, Anirban Dasgupta, to name a few.
Kanan Gill
Kanan Gill

Andrea Pinto, an advertising professional and a regular at comedy shows exclaims, “Stand up comedy is one of the most de-stressing things ever. After a long day, it is great to just unwind over good jokes, and laugh till you cry.” But have the Punekars accepted this form of art as a regular dose of entertainment? “I would still choose a live musical performance over it. A lot depends on the comedians as well. When AIB performs, the crowds are packed,” continues Pinto.
One thing is for sure, the Punekars are a matured audience. And as a city, we definitely need more stand ups to indulge in apart from the regular music nights. And in fact, not just English, but even Marathi acts could work wonders in the hearts of the Punekars. More awareness and good marketing would certainly help. Shillo Paul, an IT professional concluded it aptly, “Even though I have never been to a stand up comedy night, I would love to attend one. It’s actually hard to find something that the Pune audience doesn’t appreciate”.
With the young, vibrant and enthusiastic sets of people dominating the city, we will hopefully see more people indulging in the comeday scene in the near future.
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Feature image courtesy: huffingtonpost