When British comedy producer Don Ward held the first round of auditions for Indian comedians earlier this year, he hadn’t anticipated being able to put together a full-fledged show.
After attending comedy shows in the US, Ward started experimenting with a new kind of observational comedy in the UK in 1979. He registered the name Comedy Store and started organizing Saturday shows at a club in SoHo. He went on to found The Comedy Store in Manchester, Britian’s premiere comedy venue, in 2000. The Comedy Store is renowned for its ability to break new talent and its all-star alumni spans the spectrum of comedy royalty from Eddie Izzard to Chris Rock.
Comedian Ashish Shakya is part of the “Local Heroes” cast
Starting 22 December, and on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month at its Lower Parel venue in Mumbai from then on, The Comedy Store will present a regular series called Local Heroes with local talents who’ve gone through extensive rounds of auditions and then groomed: Ashish Shakya (25), Tanmay Bhatt (23), Rohan Joshi (27) and Chika Kapadia (48). The events are being pegged as “the first Indian stand-up comedy by Indians”.
Ward is suitably impressed with the response from young aspiraing comedians in India. When first audition for “Local Heroes” was held in June of this year, 24 guys and one girl showed up. The numbers were similar in the second round of auditions in September. “I was surprised to see so many potential comedians present themselves and perform alternative, political and observational comedy, when they were born into a culture that apart from the Canadian-Indian comedian Russell Peters, had not really experienced it,” says Ward. He credits the Internet for the fact that the young crowd even knew about Britain’s Comedy Store. “They seemed very well prepared,” he adds.
When Ward started off, back in 1979, raw talent was drawn through advertisements in local papers. The Comedy Store has come a long way since then, attracting Hollywood stars including Robin Williams and Mike Myers. Other performers to have graced the stage in the early days include Ben Elton, Paul Merton, Jo Brand, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, Rik Mayall, Ade Edmonson, Lee Evans, Jack Dee and Clive Anderson. Since 2001, Ward has also been running the Manchester Comedy Festival.
Local Heroes, the stand-up show, will be at The Comedy Store every second and fourth Wednesday of the month starting 22nd December.
For the complete schedule and to purchase tickets, visit www.thecomedystore.in