This weekend, four of the hottest Indian comedians are going to try something for the first time in Dubai. They’re gong to wing it. Abish Mathew, Kanan Gill, Kenny Sebastian and Kaneez Surka have been touring India as The Improvisers, a collaborative effort which will see them jam to music, play games and perform quirky sketches in a completely non-scripted, non-rehearsed show. It’s kind of like an Indian Whose Line is it Anyway, say organisers.
Ahead of the show on September 24 at Ductac, Surka and Mathew give tabloid! a taste of the most absurd and hilarious unscripted moments from their tour in India. And what their fans can expect once they land in the UAE.
Break a leg!
“Recently, we started to improv that Kenny was possessed by a ghost. Like most possessed ghosts, he started contorting his body, jumping and running across the room. Things took a turn when he decided to climb the wall, fell down mid-act and broke his leg. In improv, one of the golden rules is to say yes to everything. So for the rest of the scene, Kenny was hopping on one leg and the act went on! The audience was in awe. It actually generated more audience interaction with real doctors shouting out advise on how to help and we improv-ed as bad doctors trying to help Kenny — it was a hilarious and unforgettable night.”
“Part of improv is committing fully to the team — whether you like it or not. There was this one point where in one of our first shows as the Improvisers, Kaneez and Kenny wanted to sing Everybody by Backstreet Boys. It sounds like fun you know — you’re singing a retro song and dancing to the 90s. Even between the four of us, we were polarised about it. But that’s the spirit of improv — even if we were unsure, you say yes and support. So even though we went out on stage to a confounded audience, soon enough — seeing our commitment to this absurd random song got them laughing their hearts out.”
The trifecta of jams
“All four of us can sing and we have integrated that into the show. We sometimes randomly get a guitar and start a musical improv with the audience. One of the games we play is three words where we get the audience to shout out three words and we have to create melody and lyrics on the spot. One time, the three words we got were chocolate, umbrella, cricket and we somehow wove a song of missing a cricket match and having to hold an umbrella in the chocolate rain. It was so illogical but the melody and the chorus we created was so infectious that whenever the chorus came along the audience started singing “Chocolate Umbrella Cricket.” It’s moments like that, that make us go back to improv — we couldn’t believe we made that happen on the spot and that we wouldn’t be able to replicate that. It was like a special moment between us and the 300 people in the audience.”
The Humour Games
“Strangely one of my go-to characters to improv is an old lady or young girl. Comedy can be taught to a certain extent but not stand-up comedy but strangely I started acted like an elderly conservative stand-up comedy trainer to Kanan and Kenny preparing them for the almighty National Comedy Championship. Kanan and Kenny — as expected — kept cracking stupid and actually pretty bad jokes — while I kept chortling, judging and punishing them in the strangest way possible. We take events to such a far-fetched level that it surprises me that we still manage to commit.”
“In one show, one of the audience members shouted out Sachin [Tedulkar, the Indian cricket icon] to Abish and we were already mid-act of a tennis game. So what did we rename Abish? Sachin Volukar, the substandard tennis player who always got confused with Sachin Tendulkar. The whole act got the audience in a riot with Abish causing childlike tantrums every time he was called Sachin Tendulkar. I don’t see the resemblance but Abish seems to get this a lot. Nonetheless the audience loved every minute of Sachin.”
The battle of the housewives
“One thing about our show is there is music involved — which ups the notch of the improv. We have a segment called “Kick it” — which is when two people are acting out a scene and whenever one of the boys shouts “Kick it”, we start singing out the conversation. So recently, Kenny played a daughter-in-law and I the mother-in-law having our cold war of heaty words and when the time came to kick it we started a lyrical hip hop rap argument between us which was fairly hilarious.”
Guess the press conference
“Another game we don’t play as often is press conference — where the audience needs to guess who we are mimicking by the journalists’ questions. This becomes something where the audience really cracks up because they can relate with the character. We have taken off Donald Trump, Salman Khan and Baba Ram Dev as well.”
Don’t miss it
Tickets to The Improvisers on September 24 at Ductac start at Dh250 and are available on ductac.org or platinumlist.net. Doors open at 7.30pm and show starts at 8pm.