Chennai’s latest comedy club, The Spotted Hyena, hopes to revitalise the stand-up scene on all fronts
In the olden days, people used to get excited when the circus came to town. Things are a little different in the post-internet era. Nowadays, the equation of entertainment has evolved. This week, there’s a lot of chatter on the grapevine as some of the funniest folk in the country’s live performance circuit are in the city.
Snoop around online and you’ll find that all roads lead to Phoenix MarketCity. Over 30 artistes — including luminaries like Bengaluru’s Kenny Sebastian, Urooj Ashfaq from Mumbai, and Coimbatore-based Naveen Richard — are poised to take the stage at the launch festival of Chennai’s newest stand-up venue, The Spotted Hyena.
Setting the premise
Promoter Nishka Choraria wishes that this space, located within The Box at Club Crest, will be a weekend destination that eventually transforms the culture of comedy down South. “This is one of the fastest-growing genres in the live performing arts. Yet, unlike other metropolitan cities, there aren’t many platforms in Chennai that make comedy easily accessible week after week.
This is the void that we hope to fill,” shares Nishka, who originally hails from Mumbai. Her notions make sense, as the city has various go-to locations for nightlife, food, parties, gaming, Carnatic music, etc. However, besides the occasional spot that hosts a special performance, or an open mic night at a watering hole, stand-up as an art form hasn’t been represented well enough.
Landing the punchline
The venue, co-helmed by The Half Boiled Inc, also wants to create an eco-system for stand-up. “We want this to be much more than a space with a mic and a receptive crowd,” begins Bhargav Ramakrishnan aka Baggy. The co-founder of The Half Boiled Inc elaborates, “It’s about creating a community where, every weekend, humorists collaborate to churn out fresh content that works for the internet and a live audience, experiment with formats, test the waters with new material, receive constructive criticism, and push the boundaries of their craft. It’s all about creating camaraderie in comedy.”
Due to this long-term vision and the sheer number of local comics involved, we’re hoping that The Spotted Hyena will kickstart a revolution of humorous homegrown content.
Far from garden-variety
Besides improv shows and new solo specials from Mumbai-based Sorabh Pant (Born on Mars) and Kenny Sebastian (The Most Interesting Person In The Room), there are several unique formats being explored at the launch festival. Here are a few of them:
Tight10s of Chennai: This is a showcase of seven native artistes and their tightest 10-minute set of the season.
Crowd Work Show: Here, a line-up of comics with no written material will riff off an improvised audience interaction.
The Big Comedy Debate: Two teams of comedians will come up with valid arguments (and jokes) for and against various topics.
Comics on-the-spot: Jokesters get six minutes to come up with impromptu material on random subjects which appear on a screen.
Till August 18. Tickets available online.