The rise and rise of standup comedy in Nepal

6 months ago 86

Utsab Sapkota has ever been funny. During schoolhouse and college, his friends would inquire him to entertain them and Sapkota, who grew up watching Eddie Murphy and Robin Williams, would usually comply. His humour, mostly, would beryllium explicit and dark, thing his adjacent friends enjoyed. But, with Nepali drama inactive stuck successful skits and sitcoms, Sapkota knew that his benignant of drama would not beryllium accepted.

“Being comic was my thing,” says Sapkota. “But, backmost when, I was successful my precocious teens and aboriginal 20s, Nepal didn’t person a abstraction for the drama that I did. I could marque an explicit gag astir anything. And, I knew that it wouldn’t beryllium taken arsenic lingua successful cheek. This is wherefore I refrained from doing it.”

But, erstwhile Sapkota saw a video from Comedy Circle, successful which a fewer boys and girls were doing stand-up comedy, helium could not halt himself and performed astatine 1 of their shows.

“My archetypal thought was if these kids could bash it, truthful could I,” says the 35-year-old. “I performed the set. Everyone was laughing. That gave maine the assurance to execute different shows.”

Restaurants, which initially did not deliberation it would work, started calling artists to execute astatine their venues each different week. Many comedians person made it a sustainable vocation earning up to Rs 30,000 for a azygous show. YouTube videos started gaining traction. Even amidst the pandemic, comedians were doing online shows. It is rather evident that standup drama has arrived successful Nepal, and it is present to stay.

Praises and promises

Seema Golchha performing astatine the Canvas Laugh Club successful Bombay. Photo: Screengrab via YouTube.

But, it was not truthful promising a fewer years ago.

Seema Golchha, started her vocation arsenic a standup comedian successful 2011 erstwhile she was 40. She, on with members from the Toastmaster Club, did a fewer drama shows. But, with nary drama country successful the valley, that did not prime up.

“There was thing erstwhile we started. We tried to make a scene, but radical were not unfastened to the thought of paying to ticker comedy,” says Golchha. “A fewer shows astatine Yala Maya Kendra and Soaltee Crowne Plaza did well, but adjacent successful those shows, it was us, the performers who had to bash everything.”

Having to put everything, from tickets to selling to venues, the country which had a fistful of comedians stopped doing shows. Disappointed, Golchha, successful 2013, went to Mumbai, wherever she stood and took portion astatine an unfastened mic lawsuit astatine the Canvas Club, a spot dedicated to comedy.

“I came 2nd determination and that gave maine hope. I became an in-house comic determination and that’s erstwhile I knew this was what I would do,” says Golchha, who is besides a ventriloquist.

Since then, she has been doing shows successful India, Nepal, Thailand and the US for some children and adults. The quality successful the absorption of shows, Golchha says, is miles isolated erstwhile it comes to performing successful Nepal arsenic compared to different countries.

“In Nepal, we don’t respect time. We don’t adjacent respect the comedian,” she says. “But, things are dilatory moving forward. We inactive person a batch to larn astir however to negociate events. We besides request to beryllium a spot much nonrecreational and request to negociate these events amended due to the fact that the mode they are managed is rather bad.”

From experimentation to expansion

Ayush Shrestha and Yojana Thapa Magar astatine the acceptable of Baaki Samachar. Photo: Screengrab via YouTube.

Ayush Shrestha, 1 of the archetypal fewer who started the country successful Kathmandu, says basal up drama has travel a agelong mode successful the past 3 years. What started with 3 to 4 comedians performing for a assemblage of 10 to 15 radical astatine a tiny abstraction astatine Bikapa Art Centre has reached a constituent wherever these artists are touring the country.

“We started disconnected similar immoderate different comedian with jokes astir enactment and masturbation. If you spell done aged sets, you’ll announcement that jokes were made connected the ground of observations. Everyone was experimenting,” says Shrestha.

Moving connected from a tiny abstraction astatine BAC, Shrestha and fewer friends formed Comedy Tuk Tuk and organised shows astir Kathmandu.  They started doing unfastened mic events astatine Beers N’ Cheers, wherever they invited comics from each implicit Kathmandu.

“Venues similar Beers N’ Cheers and SukraBar were bully to us. They understood what we were trying to do,” says Shrestha. “But the rest, not truthful much, which is wherefore it didn’t stroke up successful Kathmandu.”

Along with Comedy Tuk Tuk, YouTube channels similar Comedy Circle, Nep-Gasm and Funny Side Up started posting basal up videos connected a regular basis.

This, then, gave a emergence to unrecorded shows. By the extremity of 2018, determination were shows being hosted successful assorted parts of Kathmandu and adjacent distant from it, mostly by the comedians themselves.

Passion drafting perks

Shrestha says that astir of the comedians bash it for the emotion of drama portion galore bash it due to the fact that they bash not person a choice.

“Finding sponsors was pugnacious successful the beginning. I accidental it inactive is. Like unrecorded music, standup drama is yet to go a portion of Kathmandu’s civilization yet. Even the lawsuit absorption companies bash not cognize however to marketplace standup comedy,” says Shrestha. “The selling techniques for unrecorded euphony volition not enactment for stand-up comedy.”

His thoughts are echoed by his adjacent Yojana Thapa Magar, who says that the comedians themselves person to big the events due to the fact that they cognize the nitty-gritty of however to negociate these events.

“We privation things to beryllium perfect. If you don’t negociate dependable properly, the assemblage volition not get the joke, and that means a atrocious show,” says Magar. “We don’t privation to beryllium doing this. But, due to the fact that this is beloved to us, we bash it anyway.”

With shows being conducted connected a regular basis, comedians, who were doing it arsenic a hobby, however, started to gain money. Sujan Zimba, who came into the limelight with his witty set, says helium was shocked that helium was being paid to bash comedy.

“I was doing it due to the fact that I liked it. I was not successful it for the money,” says Zimba. “But, getting paid for doing it was a bonus.”

Suraj Khadgi, the co-founder of Comedy Circle, says the complaint of a comic depends connected however fashionable they are.

“They get paid for their show connected a fixed time and besides erstwhile we upload videos of that performance. Now with comedians wanting to station little video, the complaint has gone up,” says Khadgi.

Dignity and caller directions

Utsab Sapkota performing his acceptable astatine an lawsuit hosted by Comedy Circle. Photo: Screengrab via YouTube.

While it is bully that galore are earning, Zimba argues a comedian should person immoderate dignity due to the fact that helium feels that arsenic comedians effort to marque a mockery retired of themselves successful the sanction of comedy, comedians are not respected enough.

“Sure, the extremity is to marque the assemblage laugh, but we request to marque definite that we person immoderate dignity left. We can’t beryllium acting similar prostitutes and defame ourselves successful the sanction of comedy. I consciousness that is wrong,” helium says.

After getting into standup, galore person ventured retired to YouTube to make caller content. Some are making absorption videos portion others are trying their manus astatine thing new.

Shrestha and Magar started a amusement called Baaki Samachar successful which they contiguous quality successful a comic and sarcastic way.  

“This is inspired from overseas shows similar The Tonight Show and The Daily Show,” says Shrestha. “The thought was simple: contiguous quality successful a comic manner. It was an experimentation and radical liked it and we continued doing it.”

Another amusement that precocious started is Chill Pill, a vodcast that hosts fashionable comedians.

“We privation to spot what tin happen. It has nary publication and that makes the amusement a spot much amusive due to the fact that adjacent we arsenic producers don’t cognize what is going to happen,” says Khadgi, who produces the show.

Sapkota, who is besides portion of Chill Pill, says that comedians request to travel up with shows similar these truthful that they don’t person to upload their stand-up acceptable connected YouTube.

“I judge that erstwhile you enactment your acceptable connected the internet, it is done. You cannot usage it again. A feline similar Russel Peters volition lone enactment up a video aft performing his acceptable for implicit 100 times,” says Sapkota. “Here, your archetypal acceptable is enactment up connected YouTube. That’s not however it should be.”

Shrestha, who says helium tried to person comedians not to enactment up stand-up videos, echoes his thoughts. While nary 1 listened to him astatine first, radical dilatory started to realise that erstwhile the video is out, the contented is finished, they stopped uploading videos.

“For me, personally, standup is similar theatre. A skit should not beryllium stale adjacent if it is performed 100 times,” helium says. “I volition lone station a video erstwhile I americium bored with telling jokes.”

Original Story