Saturday, January 07, 2012

No more unlikely than a chartered accountant doing standup...

One of the things about visiting family is that I am simultaneously inside, and outside, of my comfort zone. Inside, because I am with my family, and outside, because I tend to find myself doing things that I might not otherwise do. My second cousins, Dylan and Arlene, are somewhat younger than I am, and are incredibly social. So, when cousins are in town, they are keen to do things. And, for some reason, if there's karaoke involved, all the better.

We had been part of a shopping exhibition to Phoenix Mills, a rather chi-chi mall in Lower Parel, and the existence of comedy was noted. As, to my knowledge, stand-up comedy is not a traditional Indian artform, and having noted that one of the comedians was a local ex-chartered accountant, when the idea of a night out was mooted, we thought, why not?

So, on Thursday evening, we set off from our hotel, an edifice so vast that you can presumably see it from space, and so over the top that Graham Norton would claim it to be tasteless - just what purpose does the young lady wishing us a good morning actually serve? - in an air-conditioned taxi to the mall, where we were joined by Dylan and Arlene.

And yes, it's that 'Comedy Store', transplanted to South Mumbai for the benefit of a young, almost painfully hip audience. With a Geordie compere, who rapidly alighted upon a young man isolated on the front row, and kept coming back to him with some quite concerted advice on how to make friends, and made a series of suggestive comments about the sexuality of the guys further down the row.

I was intrigued, because homosexual acts are still punishable by imprisonment here, and somewhat surprised by the reception he was getting - uproarious laughter.

He was, it must be said, very funny in a 'thank God he hasn't seen me' sort of a way, and he had evidently made a real effort to research a bit of Mumbai culture first, with gags about biscuit adverts and Amitabh Bachchan (the Big B, as he is known).

Now I know that Will Howells has taken up stand-up and, whilst I haven't seen his act yet (so, when are you playing the Regal, Stowmarket, Will?), I sense that Karun Rao has given me a hint of what I might expect, as he delivered a set of jokes about being a chartered accountant and about how difficult it is to get laid when you are one. Geek humour at its very best.

Our last act was a black comedian from Greenford, near Southall, called Nathan Caton. As a West Indian kid at a mostly Indian school, he'd learned a pretty impressive number of Hindi swear words, which he tested on a fairly receptive audience. I have to say that I was least impressed by him, as he seemed to think that doing a bunch of gags about his mother would be enough.

The beer flowed, and the sushi was good too, and all in all, it was a really pleasant evening. But somehow, I can't see me getting into the Comedy Store in London for less than a fiver...

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