stand-up comedy Life & Style

The Mazaak Factory: Creating a stage for stand-up

Ashwin Alphonso

Ashwin Alphonso  

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Hyderabad-based The Mazaak Factory curates stand-up shows with a preference for local comics

Every day Ashwin Alphonso, a consultant with a multi-national company transforms into his alter ego — founder of the comedy production house The Mazaak Factory (TMF). He utilises his Metro travel time to curate stand-up shows, contact ticketing websites and discuss the line-up with other comics.

Ashwin’s The Mazaak Factory has been the force behind several shows that have been enjoyed in the city. “I tried stand-up comedy but it didn’t work initially,” admits Ashwin, part of Toastmasters for three years. The process took a few months and he began with spots (doing a six-minute set before the main stand-up stars step in) and now he collaborates and headlines shows.

Rajasekhar Mamidanna during a session

Rajasekhar Mamidanna during a session  

The journey with TMF began in 2017 when Ashwin made attempts to enliven the stand-up scene in Secunderabad and began hosting shows in Café Avail in Sainikpuri. “Stand-up comedy is a good proposition to sit and relax, but for those living in Secunderabad, there were not many options; they had to travel to Banjara Hills or Jubilee Hills to watch stand-up.” Mazaak Factory that started with a working title (“I didn’t want a fancy name and I didn’t know that it will continue so long”) currently curates two kinds of shows. He explains, “Popular comics from across the country take their ‘one-hour specials’ to different cities. I take care of logistics and ticketing for them in Hyderabad. TMF also plans theme-based shows and curate them to put it online.

TMF’s aim is to provide a platform to local comics. Some shows are intimate with an audience of only 30 people. “Depending on sales, the team organises multiple shows so these comedians get more visibility. During big shows, we create a space for comics who do not have an online presence to stage their small acts. It helps them to learn, gain confidence and grow in the field.”

In two years, TMF has worked with Sandesh Johnny, Vivek Muralidharan, Hriday Ranjan, Rajashekar Mamidanna and Rohit Swain. “There is no comic from Hyderabad who has not done a show with us. If they have been in the scene, then they are with us,” Ashwin says with pride.

Their shows have now moved to Banjara Hills and Gachibowli for practical reasons. “We did our last show in Secunderabad in January 2019. These venues (at Banjara and Gachibowli) are monetarily good and the audience is open-minded.”

Co-working spaces too have opened their doors to comedy shows. TMF collaborates with Coworking24 and CLOwork. “We use the venue after office hours. Some shows work and some don’t, but there is a steady rise in numbers,” he says and gives an example of Funny Side-up which has been producing comedy shows for the past four years. “Their success didn’t come overnight. Hyderabad-based comedians Rajasekhar Mamidanna, Saikiran and Rohit Swain have created a niche after years of hard work.”

His experience in curating shows has improved his writing too and he has began doing both solo shows and performing with Rajasekhar Mamidanna. He says, “I learnt a lot about production and realised what goes on stage is only 10% and 90% is behind the scenes. Stand-up is not just about a comic talking on stage; the auditorium, right acoustics and lighting, all go into making the show a success.”

Organising shows at coffee shops and pubs are part of Ashwin’s expansion plans.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 5:41:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/ashwin-alphonso-on-why-he-started-the-mazaak-factory/article30523108.ece

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