The funnier side of life

Comedy troupe

The funnier side of life

Back in 2010, three corporate professionals - Sanjay Manaktala, Praveen Kumar and Sundeep Rao – had their heads brimming with jokes. Seeing the practically non-existent comedy scene in Bangalore, they decided to take matters into their own hands and created the comedy troupe ‘The Polished Bottoms’, which now includes younger comics Kanan Gill and Kenny Sebastian.

“As they say, you’re greater together than the sum of your parts. So creating a comedy troupe meant all of our fans coming together and being exposed to new comedians while for us, it meant reaching out to more audiences,” explains Sanjay, who opts for the techie, middle-class lifestyle kind of jokes. He adds that each of them have their own distinct style, with Praveen talking from the South Indian father and husband perspective, Sundeep observing society through the filter of being visually impaired, Kanan having the yuppie, Punjabi boy outlook and Kenny incorporating music into his routine.

The style and audience demographic is also the basis on which the troupe functions. “For each show, we check availability, suitability and then who needs money the most,” jokes Sundeep, who is responsible for the naming of the group. “I had a misled dream of starting a production house and getting into acting. So when this group came up, I didn’t want a straight-forward comedy-related name. We’re not crass in our sense of humour or pretentious about it,” he adds.

What sets Bangalore’s only comedy troupe apart from others is its do-it-yourself approach. “Bangalore’s the only scene where open mics are actually open. Even if the guy’s not funny, we still give him a chance,” notes Sanjay.

“What people don’t realise is that there’s nothing funny about the comedy business – it’s a lot of hard work, especially when you’re dealing with 1000 people on one night and seven the next. But the unique position we have is that we get to create a scene that doesn’t exist. In America, you’re blessed with comedy clubs and inspirational comics. Here, we’re creating our own stage time. So it’s a challenge but a blessing,” adds Sanjay.

Praveen, whose off-stage persona leans on the quieter side, shares his perspective. “When Sundeep and I started with Vir Das’ open mic nights, there were around 25 participants. But it’s only the two of us who’ve continued. I don’t know what stopped the others from taking it forward but I’m glad that we stuck because now, we’re at a level where we can do this full-time,” shares Praveen, emphasising the fact that his routine includes Chhota Bheem jokes. Kanan, the most recent addition to the troupe, feels that young and up-and-coming comics have a lot to learn from the more experienced comics.

 “I spoke to some young comics in Bombay and they told me how hard it was for them to even be taken seriously. Experience has been my biggest takeaway with this troupe. When you do a show and it’s awful and you feel like you should kill yourself and stop doing comedy, these guys tell you that this stuff happens and not to lose your identity,” admits the 24-year-old.

The troupe recently performed a play called ‘The IT Show’ and their first improv show called ‘Comedy Games’. What’s next? “In 2014, we’re working on developing concept shows, creating an online presence, doing comedy consulting and of course, hardcore stand-up,” wraps up Sundeep. 

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