Kannada comedians get fewer open mic opportunities than English comedians in Bengaluru’s established comedy clubs.
In Bengaluru, amateur Kannada comedians seek opportunities in the open mics hosted by four Kannada collectives, namely Tharle Box, NamduK, Lolbagh and Ondh Joke Hella. English comedians however, have an array of opportunities to perform in open mics hosted at various cafes and comedy clubs.
Each of the four Kannada comedy collectives host one or two open mics every month, with varying frequency. Although, there are several open mics hosted by popular comedy venues such as Urban Solace, Jagriti Theater, and Dreams Café, are dominated by English comedians.
Santhosh, a Kannada comedian who performs at open mics in the city said, “I perform at open mics once a month. They are organized by any one of the four comedy collectives in the city. As far as the famous comedy spaces and clubs are considered, they usually prefer English and Hindi performers.”
Raghvendra Acharya, a Kannada comedian said that Bengaluru has had open mics for over a decade now and they have been mostly for English and Hindi comedians. Kannada comedians previously tried to get slots in famous comedy clubs but weren’t given stage time stating the lack of a Kannada audience. Even now, Kannada comedians do not have enough space in famous comedy clubs and rely on the open mics and shows hosted by any of the four comedy collectives in the city, he added.
Perry Menzies, the owner of Urban Solace said that their venue is predominantly for the English comedy space. He said, “we are perceived a western and English-speaking place; that’s the appeal the Cafe carries.” The place has not hosted any Kannada comedy shows nor been approached for one. However, he adds that the café does not discriminate on the basis of language.
Pavan Venugopal, a Kannada comedian from the comedy collective Lolbagh said that the audience for Kannada standup comedy is still evolving. While some still hesitate to pay reasonable ticket prices for a Kannada show, some appreciate the good content and demand for more material and shows.
Varshini Shridhar who watches open mics regularly said that it is fun to watch shows in the local language. It is easier to connect with, understand and laugh out loud, she said. She also emphasized the need to support the local language, talent and artists.
Dilip Shankar, a Kannada comedian from the collective Ondh Joke Hella said that there is very limited space for amateurs to perform in the Kannada stand up scene currently. However, there is a chance that an English open mic might get cancelled on some days due to lack of audience. Kannada open mics, on the other hand will not be cancelled because they are limited, he added.
Dr T Govindaraju, an ex-Kannada professor who worked for the Kannada Development Authoritysaid that Kannadigas do not pay much attention to promote and spread their language and culture, rather they just accept and inculcate the languages they get introduced to. He added that to promote the culture, language and art Kannadigas should use the language more and introduce it to more people. Creating more authentic Kannada content that is inclusive of all the Kannada dialects will lure more audience towards Kannada stand up and open mics he said.