Evam’s Stand Up Tamasha was a mix of goofy fun, and wit that came as a breath of fresh air
It’s unprintable. It really is. Which makes this a tough story to write. Stand-up comedy is never easy to translate into print. When the jokes are rude, crude and lewd, things get tougher.
Nevertheless, let’s try. Evam’s Stand Up Tamasha was courageously in-your-face. A good thing too. The only way comedy can grow is if audiences are open-minded, and willing to laugh at themselves. On the other hand, some of the risqué humour was fairly mindless. The Oh-look-at-what-I-just-said-on-stage trap, where performers are content with their ability to shock, and simply rely on that for laughs.
At an age when the world’s best comedians are just a click away – courtesy YouTube, stand-up is a tough act to stage. How do amateurs manage to weather the inevitable comparisons to the likes of Russell Peters, Danny Bhoy and Russell Brand? Evam’s smartest move was to not compete at all. Instead, it has created its own brand of home-grown humour, inextricably melded with the personalities of the performers.
The show opened with goofy Naveen Richard, from “a little town called Coimbatore”, where tough guys hang out at ice-cream parlours. “They say, ‘Yo, Boyz let’s go out. And then it’s ‘Uncle, one vanilla ice cream, one strawberry ice cream’.”
Suave Karthik Kumar talked about answering deep philosophical questions. Primarily: “Man or woman. Who’s better?” Body parts were mentioned. The politics of curse words came up. Also the many ways they can be conjugated. No. We’re not giving you any examples. Not in print.
Self-assured Aravind Subramanian discussed sports, and why people are so opinionated when it comes to cricket. F1 came up. Even though “it’s not a sport. It’s a video game. Both end if there’s a crash”.
Then there was the lovable Yudishthir aka Yudi: “I am sexy and I know it. Unfortunately, I am the only one who does.” His main problem that evening was “kids. They just can't lie. I was at the supermarket and a kid tugged his mum’s sari and said, ‘Why is elephant uncle checking out so many chips?’ Elephant uncle? I’m 25. The least he can do is call me elephant anna.”
Amid all the unapologetically sexist humour, chirpy Amrutha Varshini aka ‘Amity’, was a breath of fresh air. “Women have to go to the beauty parlour once a month. Or we’ll look like Anil Kapoor with long hair. I go to the parlour to do my waxing, threading, tinkering… Why do we do all this? It’s for you men. Because you are shallow.” She goes on to admit, “As a woman I need a man… Otherwise who will carry my shopping and drive me around?”
Motor mouth Ashwin Rao talks of the trials of having a more accomplished older brother. Especially when his parents take him to the houses of prospective brides — for his brother. “My father will point at me and say, ‘this is his brother. But Anand is much fairer. Much better looking. Just a little shorter’.”
The big surprise of the evening was quiet Bala Kumaran, who haltingly mumbled almost incoherently into the mike, and stole the show. “I’m intimidated by lots of things. Like talking to a pretty girl,” he said, adding thoughtfully, “I like girls with glasses. I’m attracted to them. I’m also attracted to girls without glasses.” Pause. “I like girls.”
Stand-up still nascent
After the show, the cast sat down for the chat with the audience, discussing the city’s stand-up comedy movement. “It’s a nascent movement in Chennai,” said Karthik Kumar, talking about how it’s been around for about three years in Mumbai and Delhi. “We are 18 months old. We started by sharing stories with a comic vein. We perform in pubs, and are constantly reworking our pieces, which we write ourselves. We speak Indian. It’s not Tamil. It’s not Hindi. It’s not English. It’s an Indian thought process. It’s very organic.”
(If you would like to try your hand at stand-up, Evam’s they are holding auditions in November. Mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit its log on to their Facebook page for more details.
This show marked the conclusion of the Evam Omnibus, which featured seven 7 plays and 22 shows over the lpast one month to celebrate the entertainment company’s 10th year)