Indian comic Jeeveshu Ahluwalia, who is a UAE performance veteran, has two simple reasons for coming back.
“The crowd [in Dubai] has been extremely appreciative; I think they are hungry for comedy, hungry for good humour, hungry for something that becomes a nostalgic memory that they can connect back to their homeland, India,” he explains.
The other reason that’s luring him back on September 11? The launch of VDesi Laughs, the mission of three UAE-grown desi comics who want to make Dubai rumble with laughter at Indian-style comedy — Miqdaad Dohadwala, Salman Qureshi and Amit Asudani.
While the emirate has seen quite an influx of comics this year, from Zakir Khan to Kanan Gill, the founders of VDesi Laughs feel there’s not much of a platform in the region for NRIs to perform. “The desi comedy scene has barely scratched the surface. India’s scene has grown exponentially over the last couple of years. It’s because of the openings of multiple performance venues like the Canvas Laugh Factory and the Tuning Fork, “ says Dohadwala, referring to venues in India’s financial hub, Mumbai.
And while the world discovers the subcontinent’s brand of funny thanks to streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Video, Dohadwala, Qureshi and Asudani want to create a platform that will launch their homegrown peers into the same space.
“We want to develop the scene here to a point where venues run regular comedy nights,” explains Dohadwala. “We want to remove this notion that comedians in the UAE are not good enough. The idea is to develop the comedy scene AND the comedians. We want to develop the network around the GCC in terms of comedy nights. For our comedians, we intend to start producing specials when they are ready as this would enhance their careers.”
Jyotsna Lakhiani, whose credits include being the opening act for comic academy Dubomedy founder Mina Liccione and comic Biswa Kalyan Rath during the recently held Laugh-A-Thon series, says the diversity in Dubai is amazing — it offers a mix of everything, and Hinglish (a mixture of English and Hindi languages) jokes are well received. She points to the standing ovation acts like Ahluwalia enjoy as proof of popularity.
“There’s a lot of potential in terms of people wanting to do comedy,” agrees Adnan Nalwala, a comedian who has been performing for the past 12 years. “There’s a great set of audience here very well exposed to other nationalities. It’s also great ground for doing comedy because there’s a restriction to doing comedy; there’s more clean and subtle humour used. So in that case, it makes you a good comedian. But I feel that the culture in Dubai is, unless you are a brand nobody wants to come and see it.”
This could come to an end, however, with VDesi laughs. With their first gig alone, the stage will be set for at least two open mic nights a month. “We’re starting with the Headlines Cafe and are already in talks with other venues in Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Bahrain. With our insight both as comedians and comedy show producers, we believe we can take the desi comedy scene to the next level, and it is high time Dubai had its own desi comedy scene,” says Dohadwala.
Don’t miss it!
Jeeveshu Ahluwalia will perform at Headlines Cafe, Mercure Gold Hotel, Dubai, on September 11. A table for two is Dh150 offered on first come first served basis.