In the business of mirth

Last October, a motley crowd in a newly-started mini brewery in city savoured a brand new experience of stand-up comedy. That sowed the seeds of the Amaravati Comedy Club in the city, that went on to bring stand-up comedians to the city to entertain the crowds.. “It was a risk we decided to take and it paid off,” beams Prudhvi Kaja, one of its founders.

“The urge to start something here became stronger when I visited other cities where friends treated me to fun-filled evenings in pubs and restaurants where laughter was unlimited. It’s been a long wait but I am glad that it is finally happening here,” chips in Lahari Bontu, who met Prudhvi in a student organisation where they hit it off.

The two engineering graduates then came in contact with Alekya Neelisetty, who, with a visual communication background, was writing ‘slice of life’ articles for a start-up, giving on-stage performances and doodling, besides dabbling in a couple of short films. “I love to get on stage and perform. The attention gives me a unique high,” says Alekya.

Since she was doing both writing and performing, she combined the two at the comedy club and began to write her own scripts and perform comedy as an in-house comedian at the Comedy Club.

Nirwan Kumar is the other in-house comedian at the Comedy Club. Thearchitect from the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Vijayawada, says though he is new to comedy, he is enjoying every minute of it. “That curious alchemy that occurs when people come together specifically to laugh is the best part,” he says. .

“It’s a connection,” explains Prudhvi, “That’s what this show is all about, it’s about us, the comedians, and the audience connecting with each other; there’s something about being in the same room experiencing varied degrees of excitement.”

“For me, doing this show is like therapy,” confesses Alekya. The events are much more than just a pleasant way to pass an evening . “Humour is interwoven into the fabric of our everyday existence. Whether it is about the punugu-bajji vendor in the street or our ‘purist’ politicians, humour is everywhere,” says Prudhvi.

The size of the crowd at their first show where Hyderabad-based comic Rajasekhar Mamidanna left the audience in peals of laughter was reasonable, but they were not convinced. “It was a mini brewery with a perfect ambience, good food and drink, along with comedy. We had to think of sustaining the crowd in other places too,” says Lahari.

The group brought artistes like Saurav Mehta, Nishant Suri and Rahul Dua from outside. The next show, scheduled for May 19, will have Neville Shah doing the act as part of a tour performance. “Small organizers like us prefer a ‘tour’ performances as they are inexpensive compared to stand alone shows. Financial constraint is a huge challenge. We have a long way to go before we break even. But the business is perfect for people like us who love comedy,” says Prudhvi.

Hosting intermittent open mics is what the group does to help the local youth hone talent. After successfully running seven rounds of stand-up comedy and five open mics, it has now set its eyes on established names like Kenny Sebastian and Vir Das.

Diversity is on the rise thanks to national educational institutions like SPA and the proposed All India Institute of Medical Sciences. “It is time people moved beyond movies, cricket and politics and explored other ways to lighten up, and laugh ,” says Lahari.


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