He is serious about laughter.
Quill Potter (37), a British expat, will be starting the first ever international comedy circuit in the city, comprising stand-up comedians, a comedy club and monthly events, from June.
It will be similar to the legendary Comedy Store in the UK, where comedians from across the world fly in to entertain audiences with a mike on stage. Potter said he was targeting expats and educated middle-class Indians. “I used to go to comedy nights regularly when I lived (elsewhere) in Asia,” he said. “I asked them (comedians) if they wanted to perform in India and they all said they would love to but there was no opportunity.”
He has booked Australian Jonathan Atherton for June, Kiwi Al Pitcher for July and Briton Gordon Southern for August - all funny men.
The first two of these events will take place at Sophia College in Breach Candy and St Andrew’s Auditorium in Bandra, and the tickets would cost Rs 250 to Rs 1,000.
Potter said since international comedians cost several lakhs of rupees to bring over and he had to pay a 25 per cent sales tax on each ticket, he would need each comedian to perform for three nights and get the venues 75 per cent full to make a profit. “India is a comedy goldmine because it is so eclectic, crazy and colourful but the comedy here is still very slapstick and parochial.”
He also plans to open a comedy academy to teach stand-up comedy and scriptwriting in the city.
Atherton, who is based in Singapore, has been a comedian for 15 years. “I will talk about everything from relationships to marriage, issues that everyone, whether they are Hindu or Parsi, can relate to; but I guess I will make the humour in India slightly less coarse,” he said.
Vir Das, one of India’s most famous stand-ups, said he would like to take part in the venture. “You can tell an art is progressing when people are willing to put money behind it.”
But Farhad Bomanjee (36), owner of Kala Ghoda Cafe, said the tickets were too expensive. “Tickets should start at Rs 50. This event should not be an exclusive event and should be open to all of Mumbai,” he said. “I wouldn’t spend more than Rs 500 on a night of stand-up comedy. But there is a demand for this. Everyone is bored of long plays and musicals.”
Radio One DJ Tanmay Bahulekar (24), said: “I’m into comedy so I would pay a few hundred to go and watch it, but a lot of Indians wouldn’t. They would prefer to watch comedy on TV as it’s free, even though the humour may not be great. But I guess this could open up a new trend.”