A tight-knit comedy community

A tight-knit comedy community
Local comic Varun Bhatia

Local comics are shining and they're not afraid to share the limelight with one another

By Purva Grover

Published: Fri 13 Sep 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 13 Sep 2019, 2:00 AM

We take the business of laughter very seriously. If the city's not attending brunches, it's hosting stand-up comedy evenings. If you were to spend more than five minutes on your social media timelines, read through the city's event listings, walk into a lounge or actually buy yourself a ticket for the theatres (not movies, the performing arts kind), then you will be greeted with a wave of laughter.
Let's run through a few events in the last couple of weeks for a better picture of this laughter riot: Who Stands in Line Anyways, with improvisers from all over South Asia at The Junction (Aug 28); #ComedyKiX Open Mic, Kickers Sports Bar (Aug 30); Karunesh Talwar's show (Sept 6) at Bollywood Parks Dubai, with the opening act by a local artist; Comedy World Cup (Sept 4) with eight comics from eight countries, The Clavichord; Comedians at Work, Public Cafe (Sept 9), with local performers, both new and seasoned; and counting. Is the audience receptive to the 365 days LOL vibe? Whilst that's a topic for another column, the local artists certainly are.
A couple of months ago, I was invited to judge one of the rounds of Short + Sweet Comedy Festival. It was an afternoon show, so neither the organisers nor I were expecting people to 'pay' and watch the 'arts'. Yet, it was the best show I ever attended. In the front row sat the participants (rivals), each cheering for the other. Behind, a handful of us. The bursts of laughter in the 'empty-ish' venue was earnest. And that's the emotion I walk out with, each time I am in the audience or in the judge's chair at comic shows. "Many comics have started organising curated line-ups as well as open mics to unearth new talent. It is like one big family nurturing each other and engaging in honest conversations about everything including comedy," says Varun Bhatia, a local comic, who recently opened for Karunesh's show.
Call it brotherhood or sisterhood, the camaraderie between the local comics is hard to miss and calls for high respect. The beauty of it extends not just to the happy moments, but that of grief too. The strength and unity that the community showed at the time of the July demise of much-loved comedian Manjunath Naidu was heart-breaking. It was also a commendable tribute to the arts - and the man himself.
Playing audience for each other is a must for these artistes. "Comics in the UAE are a tight-knit bunch. Promoting and sharing each other's events on their respective social media platforms is common. I have fellow comics, who call me often to simply bounce off jokes and get a different perspective. We've all got each other's backs. It's an amazing family to be a part of," shares Tabarak aka Tbone, whose most recent gig was at the Laugh Attack, Goan Shack.
Well, all one can hope is that the dedication of the performers rubs off on the audience and translate to full houses soon. Until then, more than 50 local comics shall continue to happily deliver their one-liners; that's something I am extremely positive about.

- September 14, 8pm, Atul Khatri - Live in Dubai, Jumeirah Creekside Hotel; hosted by local comic, Miqdaad Dohadwala
- September 22, 8pm, Sunday Night Comedy 'This is Impro', The Courtyard Playhouse, Al Quoz
- Every Saturday, 1.30-4pm, Dubomedy - Dubai Comedy's Fall Comedy Workshops: Stand-up and Improv', JLT

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