Until this squad arrived, Hyderabad seemed to know only ribald jokes with their trusted gang of friends. They came, they conquered and unzipped the bag of laughter gas to lead the youth to open up to stand-up. Every weekend, these enthusiasts aged between 20 and 40, arrive at the Hyderabadass Comedy Club venues such as Altitude Bar, Heart Cup Coffee and Mocha cafe for their weekly dose of ROFL, LMAO, LOL time. Here are the five musketeers of the Hyderabadass Comedy Club you need to know.
Avinash is the club’s Russel Peters. Looking back at his journey which began in 2012, he says, “Last year has been a boom, especially for the Hyderabad comedy scene because of the club. We brought a lot of structure and focused energy into our space. We have had a bunch of good shows, some really talented and edgy comics coming up, and that has only helped us gain more momentum and a stronger foothold in the business.” Well, he is not called the Indian Russel for no reason. Sounds far-fetched, but Agarwal is not the one to stop dreaming big. On his bucket list are “Hosting the Oscars, appearing on the cover of TIME magazine and winning the Nobel Prize (for Chemistry),” he says, with a laugh.
What we need to know: He has started a new social initiative called ‘The Billion Laughs Project’, where he goes to audiences who are not exposed to this genre of comedy and helps spread laughter.
She claims that she is a dedicated homemaker. “Only when my mother-in-law is around,” Banerjee adds, as an afterthought. Not surprisingly, her wry sense of humour makes her the city’s first female stand-up comedian. The Kolkata girl moved to the city two years ago from Bengaluru to turn into an IT professional. While she found Biryani everywhere, she could not get her dose of laughs. She turned into a comic to fill that void one year ago. What she has accomplished so far has been to get a hang of dark and sexist comedy. Seeing how accomplished comedians handle hecklers is what she thinks she needs to learn.
What we need to know: She was invited to give an orientation speech at ISB, Hyderabad. “I somehow passed my engineering and I don’t have an MBA. So going there felt like Shah Rukh Khan asking Tiger Shroff for acting tips,” she quips.
This journalism grad from the University of Hyderabad set his foot into stand-up comedy in 2013, but calls his initial years ‘blurry’. “Must be the beers after the shows,” he laughs. Going up on stage was not that new for him. Ranjan has been writing humour blogs for a decade now, and also directed a few comedy plays while at school. An unrequited writer with three unpublished books, he found respite in comedy. “If not for stand-up, I would have been a dysfunctional sociopath today.” About his plans next year, he says, “I am writing for my one-hour show. A few podcasts and videos are also in the
What we need to know: He taught at a government school in Kurnool for a year.
Born in Hong Kong, raised in USA and now working in Hyderabad. Arun Govada says his life’s very trajectory is funny. This self-confessed ‘always-returning-Indian’ is the founder of the comedy club. He began his journey on stage five years ago when he accidentally walked into an open mic event in a place somewhere between Hong Kong and Shanghai. After he started working in Hyderabad, he found the comedy scene boring and started the first platform for it in the city. The club, along with Govada, has seen a tremendous growth in this genre of comedy in Hyderabad. “From Guangzhou to Boston and Hyderabad, I performed almost everywhere in the world. I was also a finalist in the 10th Annual Hong Kong International Comedy Competition,” he avers.
What we need to know: Arun and Vasu Primlani will launch the first ever app-based comedy festival – the Masala Mayhem Comedy Fest next month. They are bringing 80 comedians for the 16-day event.
The pocket-sized bomb of the gang, this Hyderabadi-Punjabi guy has scaled great heights since his first show last year. He is the favourite opener for popular comedians who visit the city. When not doing stand-up, he sits managing the console as an radio jockey at 95.0 FM channel. The flying Jatt of the Hyderabadass Comedy Club points out that this genre of comedy is a self- learning process. “I look back at the comic I was the previous day and I hate being that guy. To experiment every day is what I think forms the learning curve,” this 20-something comedian says.
What we need to know: “Last Valentine’s Day, the 15-minute feature spot I got was the worst show of my life. It was 15 minutes of silence and one giggle. I cried all along the way back home.
This year, the same venue reverberated with riotous laughter.
Text: Nishad Neelambaran