Dwindling numbers at such clubs are causing members some concern

Tucked away on Bharathi Nagar Cross Street, off Lattice Bridge Road, the semi-open terrace of a three-storey building seems the perfect place for members of the Besant Nagar Humour Club, who meet on the first Sunday of every month.

By 4.45 p.m. the dozen-odd members of the audience are relaxed as they listen to chief guest Ghatam S. Karthick amuse them, but there are just not enough people to charge the group up.

From cracking a joke to enacting a skit to mimicking personalities, humour clubs in the city, some that have existed for over two decades, have tickled many a funny bone and continue to do so, but the dwindling numbers of their members is causing them some concern.

“When there are more people, it is more fun,” says A. Kumar, founder of the Besant Nagar Humour Club.

With a range of sitcoms on television and the internet, the charm of making a monthly visit to humour sessions is slowly dying.

In many neighbourhoods, such clubs are folding up. Humour clubs in Mylapore and T. Nagar stopped their activities after some of their patrons passed away, while those in Perambur and Velachery no longer function, say regular members of these clubs.

Other clubs are finding new ways to draw in crowds. Humour Club International (Triplicane chapter) does not charge any fees even from non-members, for its monthly meetings.

“We do not canvas for members and do not insist on membership,” says K.S. Seetharaman, chairman of the chapter.

Regular members say it is punctuality and the quality of the programmes that keep activities in a club going.

But this is no easy task. “If you have to make people laugh, you also need to bring in a good guest, and for that we have to spend money,” says G. Madana Gopal, president of the three-year-old Tambaram Humour Club. To attract younger members, the club offers goodies and gifts for children.

It is only more sponsors and an active participation from youngsters that can keep these clubs — that offer the best medicine — going, members say.

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