After years of performing, funnyman Tanmay Bhatt is hoping that his audience will see him differently at his next gig. Or rather not see him at all! “I have no choice. Every time I walk up on stage, I can hear whispers about my abnormally large presence,” says the portly comic.
Next month, Bhatt along with two other comedians, Sundeep Rao and Neville Shah, plans to take a shot in the dark. Comedy In The Dark, a concept as bizarre as it sounds, will feature stand-ups in a pitch-dark surrounding. “You can tell a good joke on radio as well as on TV. Since the audience has no vision, they’ll focus only on the voice,” feels Charlotte Ward of The Comedy Store whose brainchild it is.
Ward insists there’s no energy conservation agenda behind the idea but Bhatt thinks otherwise: “They didn’t pay their electricity bills, so they had to go without it.”
The idea of comedy in the dark gained popularity with its debut in 2009 at the Leicester Comedy Festival but Ward insists that she hasn’t heard of this “fresh, exclusive concept before”. She says that the experiment seeks humour, devoid of hand and body gestures.
Bhatt adds, “I’m only concerned that I might fall off the stage and people in the front row won’t know what hit them.” For Rao, who kick-started his comedy career two years ago, this gig is like any other. The visually impaired comic, who was diagnosed with an eye condition called Juvenile Macular Degeneration at the age of nine, says he gauges the success of his gig based on how loud his audience laughs.
“With this concept, people won’t be distracted by other things,” says Rao, whose USP lies in his ability to switch from one voice to another. “If they as much as glance at their phone, the light will ensure that the offenders are picked on by the comics immediately.”
Bhatt isn’t worried about the lack of gestures and props. “Most of my jokes are as funny on the phone as they are on the stage. What I’m worried about is that I won’t know which audience member to pick on. I’m just going to assume they are all an ugly bunch and pick one randomly,” he says.