Comedy shows are high on entertainment quotient. No wonder that every channel has one or all of these – comedy-based reality show, stand-up comedy, compilation of comic scenes from movies or social satire. The latest in the bandwagon is ‘Comedy Festival’ on Mazhavil Manorama. This reality show, aired Monday to Thursday at 9.30 p.m., has 24 teams participating in the contest. Rachana is the anchor. The show is directed by Anil Ayroor, executive producer with the channel. His name is in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 for having designed the world’s largest ornamental Christmas star, which was exhibited in Kochi. Excerpts from an interview with Anil about ‘Comedy Festival’…

The contestants

Participants selected after the auditions were divided into 24 five-member teams. They underwent a 40-day grooming before the show commenced. Of the lot, we’ve a team comprising women only. The women’s team has a member who used to do theatre, an auto driver, an LIC agent, a home-maker and a student.

The format

In each episode, two teams present their skits. A best performer from each team will be chosen. The best among these two is named the performer of the day. There is no SMS voting; judges evaluate the performance. Also, in each episode we present an act of daredevilry by an individual or groups.

Behind the scenes

The set is unique in that it is modelled like an upmarket street and is perhaps among the largest one on television in South India. It has been designed by Shyam Bhatia, who is well-known for his work on television (he has designed the ‘Bigg Boss’ house for Colors and sets for shows such as ‘Dance India Dance’ on Zee TV, ‘India's Got Talent’ on Colors and ‘Indian Idol’ on Sony) and has also designed stages of many award shows. We’ve also tried to infuse freshness while presenting the team profiles. It is a mix of animation, caricature and graphics. In fact, we got the idea from a cartoon programme. My associate director Anoop John has played a big role in shaping the format.

The judges

The judging panel is a highlight of the show. Director Siddique, actor-director Lal, actor Urvashi and mimicry artiste-actor Guinness Pakru are the judges. Lal would not be present in all the episodes owing to his movie commitments. The presence of Siddique is a big inspiration for the contestants. His comments are valued much since he is among those who took comedy to a new high in Kerala, both on stage and in movies. Urvashi chechi, having excelled in handling comedy in cinema, has in-depth knowledge about timing and has impressed with her sharp and logical comments. Guinness Pakru too has a very clear idea about the nuances of comedy.

Clean comedy

Many comedy shows tend to cross limits of decency. We’ve ensured that this never happens on ‘Comedy Festival’. It is meant for the family and so we have also ensured that artistes, in no way, hurt the sentiments of women, either through dialogues or costumes. Often, those artistes who dress up as women make them look vulgar. The contestants have also been asked not to use any comments about the complexion of a person.

Keywords: Comedy shows