CHENNAI: Leading comedy clubs like Counter Culture Comedy Club (now Medai) and The Spotted Hyena in the city closed down owing to the pandemic. The lockdown, which paved the way for several open mics and comedy shows to take place online, has increased the number of comics in the city.
“During lockdown, when all of us were at home with nothing to do, I spontaneously went and took part in open mics and stand-up comedy shows online. I would participate in two shows a day. Stand-up comedy soon grew on me and I performed in 60 online open mics and was even part of the line-up in 4 shows.
“I had my first offline open mic in 2021 and participated in 15 open mics,” says Devadharshini, a law student, but prefers to be called an artiste.
Talking about how it is for new comics in the city, she says, “Before Covid, we used to have open mics almost every day. Now, since there are not many comedy clubs, the lack of venues is impacting newcomers.”
Guru Nicketan, known for his Instagram page, Nicketronix, and a stand-up comic, says that the scene of stand-up comedy has changed due to the lack of producers. “On the other hand, new comics are able to open for more well-established comics and are able to make their presence known amongst the audience,” he says.
However, he says the issue at hand is the shortage of producers in the city. Guru says, “The scarcity of producers in the city is one of the main reasons for many comics to produce their own shows. Others are forced to perform in cafés and restaurants with walk-in audiences who have no idea that a show is going on.”
Vysakh, who has been in the scene for the past three years, says that producers conducting open mics catering exclusively to comedy are a handful. He says, “In an All-arts open mic, the audience is more receptive to the other art forms like storytelling, poetry, singing. The crowd eventually enjoys the set, but performing in a comedy club means the audience is there for it.”
Venue partners are rising to the occasion to make up for this paucity. Prathibha M, Owner of Darsh, a venue partner for shows across the city says, “As a venue partner, I encourage collaborations with comics who want to do their own show. Recently, we collaborated with Syama Harini. Even if a comic is new to the business, if the content is good we give them that platform. We hope to collaborate with more comics who are looking for a stage,” she smiles.