Published: 20th September 2018
Bengaluru-based stand-up comedy group 'LOLbagh' is the first of its kind to perform shows in Kannada
These techies perform a stand-up comedy show in Kannada and have already logged more than 50 shows across Karnataka. They have now formed another group, LOLbagh and Sons, with four new inductees
Whenever we watch or read something funny on social media, we often reply in one of two ways (sometimes both) — either with an array of laughing emojis or a quick 'Lol' message. LOL, meaning Laughing Out Loud, is the new-age 'Ha ha ha'. But I bet you already knew that. But did you know that there's a stand-up comedy group in Bengaluru that's named itself after this acronym? Yes! You read it right.
LOLbagh, which is more like a start-up comedy show, is Anup Maiya's brainchild. It was in November 2016 when Anup, who is currently 25 years old and working as a technical trainer at Verint Systems in Bengaluru, hosted an 'Open Mic' show where anyone could perform, but only in Kannada. Needless to say, his first show was a hit and that's when he thought of starting a formal group and running a stand-up comedy show. While that sounds pretty ordinary nowadays, a comedy show that's mostly in Kannada is not.
"The present six-membered group that I have formed is only with the help of Open Mic. Two of them, Sudharshan Rangaprasad and Pavan Venugopal, already had a leg-up on us as they had performed on stage before, even though they were performing English comedy shows. Later, we got Sneha Suhas, Hampa Kumar and Karthik Pattar, and have been successfully running the show since December 2016. We are all a bunch of techies who work full-time for different companies and perform our show during the weekends in Bengaluru and sometimes, outside the city and state too," says Anup.
All smiles: Sudarshan Rangaprasad, a stand-up comedian performing at one LOLbagh shows
Since its inception, the group has faced several challenges. While most stand-up comedy shows run in English and Hindi, running a show in Kannada turned out to be little complicated. "Initially and even now, it is difficult for us to gather people to come to our shows. It is mainly because we speak in Kannada and most people are unsure of a Kannada stand-up comedy show. It is not an easy task to make people understand what we do, but we put in extra efforts to meet people and tell them about the show so that they can spread the word. We usually post details on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp groups, and there are many people who have attended the show after watching some of our recorded shows on YouTube," Anup explains.
Not everyone can be intentionally funny. You cannot build this talent overnight; it takes time and interest, believes Anup. "We all crack jokes to makes our family and friends laugh. However, comedians need to build a rapport with a packed auditorium of people who are not known to you and need to make things simple for them to understand. And not everyone takes a joke well. Some do take offence; that happens to us at every show. There are many from the audience who even come up to us and express their positive and negative opinions directly. We try to speak only what is necessary. But someone on the other will have a problem with every topic that we pick. Sometimes it is unavoidable and we take the freedom to express our thoughts. I believe that comedy is a good medium to bring awareness on various issues in the country," he says.
All the six members of the LOLbagh group come from different parts of Karnataka like Mangaluru, Koppal, Mysuru, Hubballi and other districts. They have successfully run 80 shows in and outside Karnataka the state as well
The group aims to attract the urban youth who come to the city from different parts of Karnataka in search of a job. Clarifying why they target youngsters, Anup says, "Most of them come to Bengaluru in search of jobs. In the midst of mingling with people from other states at their workplace, Kannadigas often forget their own language so much so that even when two Kannadigas meet, they mostly speak in English. Through this show, we are not forcing an outsider to learn Kannada (unless they wish to understand what we speak during the show), we mainly want to tell Kannadigas that there's no harm in speaking your mother tongue."
We finally had to ask Anup about the story behind the name of the group. Laughing out loud, Anup says, "The journey of the group started in Bengaluru. We wanted the group name to symbolise something from this city, which is well known for its parks especially Lalbagh. So, Lol...Lal. Thus was born the name LOLbagh. It kind of means Laughing Out Loudly in the park." Over a period of time, people have embraced the group and many have even come forward to be part of it. There's another group, LOLbagh and Sons, that has been formed with four new people and other team members. "They are yet to start performing at the show formally, but they all have the essence of humour in them," concludes Anup.