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It’s the season to tickle your funny bone, with comedy festivals like Stage 42 and the Weirdass Pajama Fest heading nationwide. Here’s what to expect

The first month of the year has something infectious in the air. The buzz on stages across the country is all about laughing out loud and witty comebacks. While on television, Cyrus Sahukar is coming out with Challenge Accepted, a comic dare game on Comedy Central, elsewhere, there are two big comdey festivals about to kick off—OML’s Stage 42 and the Weirdass Comedy Pajama Fest. Being staged almost simultaneously across major Indian cities, we take a sneak peek into the impending laughterthon.

2Kanan Gill, Bengaluru

Kanan Gill and Biswa Kalyan Rath rose to fame via their inimitable YouTube series, Pretentious Movie Reviews—where they review and ridicule yesteryear Bollywood films. Now they’ve come up with a brand new live show, Kiswa and Banana, to make you laugh and ponder over their
real-life observations.

What can we expect with your new show: Stand up comedy, laughter and deep psychological problems.
Will Indians really use Netflix or continue flicking from the Net: I think we’ve got several years of torrent-related guilt in all of our souls. So probably we’ll use Netflix (until the guilt goes away, and then back to flicking).
On Varun Dhawan comparing Dilwale to Inception: If you made a graph of good movies vs time, then Inception would be in the middle and Dilwale would be the splatter of blood on the paper from you having killed yourself after watching it.
On February 13. At UB City Amphitheatre, Bengaluru

STAGE 42
January 23 — March 6

It’s silly, it’s satirical, it’s side-splitting. It’s the second edition of Stage 42, the popular curated comedy and music festival. Unlike last year, which was restricted to just a few metropolitan cities—but had international headlining acts like Bill Burr and Russell Peters on the roster—this time, a drove of homegrown standup artistes are taking over the nation. “There are about 70 Indian comics, including All India Bakchod, East India Comedy, Kanan Gill, Biswa and Abish Mathew performing at the festival. Besides Australian comedian Miles Allen, internationally we wanted to look at acts that are not comedians, like YouTube sensations, Boyce Avenue band,” explains Ajay Nair, the COO. We speak to the top humourists and artistes on the bill, and find out what to expect.

3Kenny Sebastian, Bengaluru

This musician with Kerala roots is quickly becoming one of the most sought after standup comedians in India. With over 800 global comedy gigs to his credit, over 1,30,000 YouTube subscribers and three comedy specials, Kenny Sebastian is a force to be reckoned with. Now, besides working on all-new web series and comedy songs for his channel, he’s presenting his new live set, Door Through a Window, at multiple venues across India.

What is Door Through a Window: I go deeper into how I look at the world and explain the thoughts, fears and experiences of my life in a very different perspective.
Sikkim just became India’s first fully organic state. How does Kerala compare: Kerala has India’s best organic liquor. Toddy.
It’s claimed that ‘a second’ of Sunder Pichai’s time is worth `357. How much is your ‘second’: Easily equal to two plates of momos.
An acronym for an association of Indian standups: R.A.S.N.A. — Rarely Amusing Still Not Arrested

On February 6. At JTPAC, Kochi

Need to know
Mumbai-based OML (the same organisation behind the NH7 Weekender music festival), is taking the event to Pune, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Vadodara. Tickets from `300 onwards. Details: stage42.in

4RadhikaVaz, NY-Mumbai
The award-winning comedian, who commutes between New York and Mumbai, has a lot to celebrate. Her one-woman shows, including Older. Angrier. Hairier, have sold out in the US and all over India; she’s currently writing a TV pilot based on her popular web series, Shugs & Fats (which won the Gotham Independent Film Award in New York), and her new book is out.

What to expect at the show, Unladylike: I’m hoping bladder control issues brought on by belly laughs. Plus my book, Unladylike, A Memoir, will be available at the venue and I will be signing it and hugging people. Not the ones that wet themselves, though.
If you were given a chance to form a club, what would it be: A feminist ganja club. I want all women to understand and experience the healing effects of MaryJane.
Who’d win in a catfight between Mamata Banerjee and Hillary Clinton: Didi would kick Hillary’s ass from here to eternity. Mamata is a ninja. Plus, you don’t cross a Bengali woman. Ever.
On February 5. At Alliance Francaise, Bengaluru

AIB, Mumbai

They are the country’s edgiest comedy collective. Comprising Gursimran Khamba, Tanmay Bhat, Rohan Joshi and Ashish Shakya, the All India Bakchod (AIB) is currently hosting their own satirical news show on Star World, On Air with AIB, besides posting various sketches on their YouTube Channel (with close to 1.5 million subscribers). And now they hope to launch their own national holiday, AIB Diwas, at the Stage 42 festival.

What is AIB Diwas: It’s going to be a fun day out for AIB fans in a relaxed informal environment. We will be doing three special shows, including a live podcast. It’s going to be a fairly exclusive show with only 3,000 people.
Upcoming projects: Besides touring Australia in May, we’re launching AIB First Draft. It’s a screen-writing programme that we are very passionate about because we think there’s loads of talent in India and this would be a great way to get a lot of fresh, interesting content made.
2015 was the ‘Year of the butt’. What’s 2016 going to be: It’s going to be the year of the elbow. For far too long it has been ignored. But this year, the elbow will nudge (get it?) the butt out.
How ‘free’ is Free Basics: It is very free. It’s the consumers using Free Basics who aren’t really free. ​

On February 20. At PJ Hindu Gymkhana Grounds, Mumbai

5Weirdass Pajama Fest 2016
January 29 — february 7

January 29 is a big day for comedian-actor Vir Das. Not only does the third edition of his pet comedy project, the Weirdass Pajama Fest, take off but his latest Bollywood film, Mastizaade, also hits cinemas. Right after Pajama Fest, Das will be performing in 17 cities across America, too.
The comedy fest begins in Bengaluru with two shows—The Battle of Bangalol, and Vir Das and the Singapore Slingers. “From a three-city tour, we’ve become a nine-city tour this year and, for the first time, we will have artistes from the US, Australia, the UK, Malaysia and Bangladesh joining in,” says Das. While faces from the domestic circuit might be more than familiar, with the welcome exception of Comedy Factory from Gujarat, Das assures the material is all new.

Need to know
After Bengaluru, the Weirdass Pajama Fest will travel across Kolkata, Delhi, Chandigarh, Pune, Goa, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, and finally Mumbai. Tickets from Rs.1,000. Details: pajamafest.co.in

6Daniel Fernandes, Mumbai

Beginning with a small show in Mumbai in 2011, Daniel Fernandes has become a name in the comedy circuit not only in India, but abroad as well. This March, he is going to participate in the Melbourne International Comedy festival.
If you had to write an open letter to an Indian, who would he/she be: Journalist Bhupendra Chaubey (who received a lot of flak for his recent interview with Sunny Leone). Don’t be a misogynist.
About our jetsetting PM: I am jealous of his frequent flyer miles.
Who would you ‘roast’? Vir Das.

On January 29. At MLR Convention
Center, Bengaluru

8Imran Yusuf, the UK

This British comedian of Indian descent shot into the limelight after making it to the Edinburgh Comedy Festival’s Best Newcomer nominations and appearing on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow in 2010.
If you were to host the Oscars, what will your opening line be: “It’s a privilege to host this year’s Academy Awards. Last year, it was a clean sweep for Pistorius, an Oscar who was nominated for his performance on the red carpet….”
Your reaction if you were Miss Colombia: I don’t have much sympathy for good-looking people. Life is easy for them. That’s why I’m a comic. We have to survive on personality alone, and that takes work.
Your answer to Apple and Samsung’s fitness wearables: I’d design a thing called a ‘pen’, a small cylindrical object that holds ink and allows it to stain when the user pushes it down against a piece of paper so that they can write “stop filling the hole in your life with materialism, now go out and exercise”.
On January 31. At Sirifort Auditorium, Delhi

7Jonathon Atherton, Australia

Atherton has been in comedy since 1994, and is known for his take on culture and languages. He is also the founder of Comedy Club Asia in Singapore, and Crackhouse Comedy Club KL.
If you were to write a tagline for Australian tourism: You’re always welcome down under, as long as you don’t come by boat.
On the Free Basics fuss: Mark Zuckerberg proves there is no such thing as free lunch.
What’s wrong with Donald Trump: He’s so bad that the best thing about him is his hair.
On January 31. At Sirifort Auditorium, Delhi

Also stay tuned for Evam Standup Tamasha’s comedy extravaganza in March, the Crispy Masala Dosai Fringe Festival, featuring over 20 comics from around the country, and the popular Ghanta Awards.

9Praveen Kumar, Bengaluru

The word ‘clean’ is difficult to associate with comedy, but that’s what Praveen Kumar is known for. The 34-year-old’s repertoire weaves in funny stories about his life, marriage and parenthood.
Your dream startup: A mobile app that teaches bad words and the right pronunciations. They are important while travelling.
If the odd-even campaign takes off elsewhere: It will be odd. Nobody will care.
On the Netflix hysteria in India: Once the free subscription is over, everybody will go back to torrents.

On January 29. At MLR Convention Center, Bengaluru

10Neeti Palta, New Delhi

When the former advertising professional did her first standup five years ago, she was petrified. Today, Palta says she can face an audience at the drop of a hat.
On Sonam Kapoor winning the most entertaining actress award for Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo: I clearly am travelling too much these days. I haven’t heard of it. But I didn’t know Anil Kapoor had so much money to buy an award.
Traffic in Bengaluru: I am used to seeing murderers on the roads of Delhi, but when I see the same in Bengaluru, I am shocked.
The most embarrassing typo: I once wrote ‘good lick’ instead of ‘good luck’! That message was intended for a male friend. It changed our relationship for a good few weeks.
On January 29. At MLR Convention Center, Bengaluru

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