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Hunt for the next big Indian comic

entertainment Updated: Jun 15, 2010 14:22 IST
Naomi Canton
Naomi Canton
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The Comedy Store wants to create India’s future comedy stars. On June 19, the first auditions will be held at the club, at the Palladium in Lower Parel, so that founder and CEO Don Ward can spot the next big Indian comic.

Would-be stand-up comedians will need to perform for four minutes on stage, doing whatever they feel is funny — be it stand-up, poetry, using a prop or playing a musical instrument. Their performance should be in English or Hinglish.

Funny bones
“I want to see personality, funny bones and attitude,” says Ward. Those that Ward and staff from The Comedy Store London think are good enough will be selected to perform alongside professional international comics in five-minute spots at paid-for shows the following week.

There are also plans to start a local talent night at the venue and other languages will be encouraged in the future. International comics, together with Ward, will hold master classes for aspiring comics and the successful ones will get free tickets to watch The Comedy Store shows.

“I believe there is a lot of talent in Mumbai,” says Ward. “I saw Vir Das perform the other day and he was making fun of the roads and Delhi. That is observational humour, which is what The Comedy Store is all about,” he says. Ward adds his intention is to eventually take the comics on tour around India, and then to the UK.

In 1979, when Ward opened the first Comedy Store in London, adverts were placed in newspapers asking for would-be comedians. More than 100 people showed up and the auditions became a weekly affair. "One guy came with a vacuum cleaner that blew air, attached to a saxophone. But he couldn’t get the vacuum cleaner to work and was boo-ed off,” he chuckles.

Anecdotes from London auditions
There was a man who had had a dance band to cheer people up in wartime Britain. He was over 80 and I said to him, “Are you sure you want to audition? It’s meant to be modern material,” and he said: “I move with the times.” He came on stage and did all these mother-in-law jokes, which was the kind of stuff The Comedy Store had been set up to get rid of. Then he tripped over as he left."

"A guy came with a music stand and violin. He put the three-legged stand on the carpeted stage, stood up and picked up his violin, and the stand fell over. So he put the violin down, and picked the stand up, took the violin up again, and the stand fell over again. This went on for the next five minutes and everyone was in stitches. When his time was up, he said: “I haven’t even started my act.” But I said: “Your act was terrific.”
- Don Ward

To enter the So You Want To Be Famous auditions, log on to www.thecomedystore.in or call 022 4348 5000. Auditions will be repeated on January 26.