A group engaged in the business of laughter, Vizag Komedians, has brought many a smile to the city. Ashish Kumar shares the story.
As India was being introduced to stand-up comedy in 2009, Vizag was relatively still unaware of it. So when Kolkata based Raouf Gangjee, one of India’s oldest comedians visited here, he identified it as a city with potential. With time, and the emergence of local voices in comedy, Raouf soon included Vizag as one of the 27 cities to set up a local comedy chapter, and in 2014, Vizag Komedians was started. With a few key members such as Manik Mehta, this club marked the start of not just a stand-up comedy platform, but also the start of the open-mic culture in the city.
Ashish, who became part of Vizag Komedians in 2017, shares that the scenario of stand-up comedy and open mic culture has undergone a transformation in the city since. So while events used to be few and far between, happening perhaps once in every two months, today, there’s an open mic happening somewhere every week! Also, while The Park Hotel used to be the only venue that gave standup comedy stage-space, today, their shows happen at other venues too.
People and participation
With an increase in venues, the audience that comes for these shows has grown. Presently, people across age groups come to watch Vizag Komedians. Also, while artists from other cities once preferred to perform in metros, engaging participation can now be seen in cities like Vizag as well.
With approximately 30 members, Ashish shares that there are 10 comedians who participate on a regular basis. He adds that the group has no particular structure, and everyone pitches in to take care of the events that happen. The open mic gives members a platform to try their jokes and helps them find out what worked and what didn’t. These sessions are often followed by workshops, which are mostly feedback sessions. Their name and fame have grown, thanks to the crowds they perform for. Along with performances at The Park, they have also done prestigious shows like Navy Nights and the Kunal Kamra show. Vizag Komedians have performed at colleges like IIAM, GITAM, and Andhra University as well.
Being a part
Anyone who wants to become a part of Vizag Komedians can simply do so by participating in an open mic session and become a member. Additionally, there is no compulsion to continue, and one can join or exit the group whenever one feels. After the open mic, the group takes up a small workshop, to give feedback on what worked and what bombed. Sharing that relatable humour works best for the city, Ashish adds that the cosmopolitan crowd and diverse culture allow for more acceptance. A mix of easily understandable Hindi and Telugu along with English is ideal, but comedians are free to perform as per their choice.
The group is currently creating clips of stand-up acts to promote its artists. They even plan to release a short film soon. While their plans are varied, the focus however, will stay on spreading laughter.