If indeed it’s in the bleakest of times that laughter resounds the loudest, this is the moment to giggle and chortle and guffaw. As COVID-19 spreads slowly across the lands extracting a steep price for society, it also takes a toll on things that bring together a community, such as theatre. But like most sectors that have persevered over time, the entertainment segment is resolute in bringing the cathartic relief so needed these days.
In the UAE, one such evening that promises laughs and a blasé take on recent happenings is ‘VIU Comedy Box Office - Bring the Funny’, a format that meshes stand-up, observational humour and scripted dialogue for comedic effect.
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“The comedy scene in the UAE has been like my waistline the last few years. - growing rapidly. Of course like most event-based industries, the current situation has rocked us a bit. But we’re hoping these kind of shows will put us back on the road to success,” says comedian Salman Z.Qureshi, one of the performers at the Junction on Wednesday.
This week’s entry will be headlined by comedians Salman Z. Qureshi and Rushdie Rafeek, followed by Racy Desis, Ahmed Abdulla and Alina Islam.
For Asad Raza Khan, producer of the show, while UAE is grappling with precautions to curb COVID-19, these tough times will only make the need for theater clearer. “I think post COVID theatre will become bigger in the grand scheme of things. People have now realized the importance of live interaction and the 3D experience. This will only make them more hungry for experiences outside their homes, and with other human beings. I see theatre not only providing to the refinement of individuals, but to their emotional well-being as well,” he says.
TV or streaming services, he and his fellow comics believe, cannot take over the electricity of a live chat. “I’m in denial about our work going online. We already have movies, TV shows. Theater needs to be a live experience,” says a defiant Qureshi.
Mask or mask not?
One of the challenges of any gatherings these days is the mask. With at least 50 per cent of a face covered it takes a large amount of intuition to understand the expressions of another. Does this impact the staging of an act? “The audiences will have their masks on but the performers will not. This is why we need to maintain a distance of at-least 3m from the first row making only half the Junction's stage available. I did another theatrical piece in August, and although it is a NEW normal, it did not impact the experience of the audiences who had a good time,” says Khan.
Qureshi adds: “My understanding is that there is a safe distance prescribed by the governing bodies here and I’m going to stick to that like a driver sticks to the speed limit after learning about the heavy fines here.”
The challenges to put on a live show are many – and getting tougher as days progress. But if it’s in the toughest hours that smiles make the most difference, don’t worry. These entertainers promise they will bring the funny.
Don’t Miss It!
Tickets to “‘VIU Comedy Box Office - Bring the Funny” on September 30 at the Junction are priced at Dh50