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‘It is very easy to offend people in India, and scary’: Dry State Humor

Shruti Chaturvedi

Engineering drop-out (because that makes a cool introduction), digital marketeer, Kindle addict and a writer. Love decoding human behaviour. Telling stories that matter on Chaaipani. @adhicutting on Twitter.

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When we need a dose of laughter, we know where we need to head – George Carlin, Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld or Kapil Sharma (just in case). They leave their viewers cracking up with their one-liners in no time, thanks to their humorous approach to the most mundane details of life. Earlier, fans waited to catch snippets of their humor for their dose of entertainment. However, the scenes with comedy circuit are changing rapidly.

India is turning into a warm host for quiet a few talented stand-up comedians, apparently.
“Here, people are easily offended over one or the other thing and in order to crack a joke, one has to be very politically correct”, says Nisarg Mankad.

Dry State Humor is Ahmedabad’s one of the few stand-up comedy groups trying to tickle the funny bone. Founded by a group of four – three engineers and one commerce student, DSH is gradually gaining its share of popularity in the city.
“Since three of us are engineers, our life is naturally a joke!”, Nisarg Shah chips in.
Dry State Humor began with a Facebook post by Siddhant asking his friends about comedy culture in Ahmedabad. The response he received prompted the group of friends to try their hands on stand-comedy. A team of four – Nisarg Shah, Brandon Lalkaka, Nisarg Mankad and Siddhant Gupta, has performed 7 gigs so far.
“We get mixed responses from people. Some people can take the joke while some can’t. Elders usually don’t appreciate the kind of jokes we make but in a couple of our gigs, we’ve had old people who’ve laughed on same jokes the most”, says Nisarg.

Recalling one of their experience at a college fest, they share, “We were prepared for the gig and right before the show, the organizer asked us to not crack any adult jokes. His (Nisarg Mankad) jokes are only adult! With that, I was left with 5 jokes and he was left with 2. We went up the stage, performed whatever we had wondering when we’d be booed away. Surprisingly, the show was a hit. Professors enjoyed the most.”

Being one of the ‘firsts’ in city’s comedy circuit, these young guys have learnt their lessons well. “When people ‘buy’ tickets for your show, they expect way too much and notice tiniest of the things, right from delay in entering the stage to mismatched timing of joke between two performers. We just cannot  afford to look amateur. Also, understanding your audience’s intellect is very very important”, they point.

Without a formal training in comedy, these guys train each other.”We prepare our content individually and then when we meet up, we rehearse our content and help each other improve their jokes and style of delivery”, says Nisarg Mankad. “We don’t entertain slapstick humor. We don’t take our audience’s intelligence for granted”, he adds.
“Building the character, arranging the content, figuring the style of delivery and setting the tone right are aspects that we focus a lot on”, they point.

Talking about the market in city for stand-up comedians, DSH points that Ahmedabad has a lot of young budding stand-up comedians who don’t find a place to perform.
“Cafes will either want us to do it for free or very cheap, which makes us dubious of taking this as a full-time profession. Especially after AIB knock-out, elders think that stand-up comedy is about vulgarity, because of which restaurants and corporate houses would think twice before hosting a comedy gig”, they point.

“We are planning a lot of open mics in Ahmedabad which we think will create a stand-up culture in Ahmedabad. We need to establish ourselves first in Ahmedabad. Social media can wait”, says Nisarg talking about their future plans.

“We are edgy, dark but not insensitive”, they say, signing off.

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