Ready to ROFL with the big papa?

Are you going to wander around town this weekend speculating on how to escape the drudgery of a predictable life? Do something better. Head to Gurgaon where you're likely to find people queuing up outside Epicentre and settling down for a night of Hinglish comedy put together by Papa CJ's company.

Over the past few months, the Capital has come alive with the sight of microphone-armed standup comedians poking fun at themselves and others in darkened halls, fancy pubs, family diners and just about anywhere the 'funny people' find enough room to stand.

Stand-up comedian Papa CJ suggests you take front-row seats

Stand-up comedian Papa CJ suggests you take front-row seats

But what makes Indians laugh? 'Everybody laughs at everything. But over time, the audience gets comedy savvy, so comedians are always trying to get better at their work,' says Papa CJ, who has performed in over 1,000 gigs in 20-odd countries over the last eight years.

'Indian audiences don't know the difference between average, good and brilliant stuff, but soon, they'll mature and demand a different kind of comedy,' he adds.

Talking about the quality of comedy acts, Papa CJ says, 'A lot of stand-ups prefer to get by on shock value. But one should avoid using the Fword or sex talk unless it adds to your routine.' When asked about how much he takes home after a night of making people fall off their seats, he says, 'I'm paid through sexual favours and it's better if the client pays upfront - after all, it'll affect my performance.'

The new 'singing' entrant Vipin Hero

The new 'singing' entrant Vipin Hero

Papa CJ then makes the stunning revelation that comedy doesn't come from happiness, but from misery. 'If I say I love my life, I get a massage every day, I get paid $3 million, no one will laugh. But if I say I get beaten up, my kids hate me, people laugh because they can relate to it,' he rationalises.

Deepak AK Dhamija of Shoelace Productions agrees. One of the comedians who'll be on the stage, Dhamija says, 'You can laugh at what pains you and makes you feel helpless. Take for instance the government's ban on freedownload websites, no one can help it, so you make a joke and laugh about it, releasing pentup emotions.' Dhamija stepped into the world of stand-up comedy to experience it first hand and be able to write a play about it.

When at Epicentre, you'll also see comedians Monty Singh, Zakir Khan and Yadvinder Brar with Amit Tandon. Known as 'The Married Guy' in the circuit, Tandon, a partner at The Mind Café in Gurgaon, also emphasises the 'connect with people' factor.

Amit Tandon, the 'married guy'

Amit Tandon, the 'married guy'

So he jokes about the Delhi traffic and cars with woofers bigger than a Maruti 800 and neon lights so bright that people wouldn't mind if you replaced the number plate with a name plate which read 'Jagdish Electricals'. 'Also, father-son jokes are universal constants, unlike a George Bush joke,' he adds.

A new face in this growing legion of microphone-wielders is 23-year-old Vipin Hero, who was discovered during Dhamija's Losers' Night Out in Juneend and has been in demand ever since.

He may be from the theatre circuit, but Hero's words don't do the funny talk, he sings to make people laugh. Be in Gurgaon to hear Hero croon away, or stop by just to be poked at. Papa CJ assures us that there are reasons why people always want front-row seats to his shows, knowing well enough that he'll pick on them. There are times when it's OK to be picked on, this is one of those times.

Watch the 'Best of Hinglish Comedy' at Epicentre, Gurgaon, on August 4; 7:30 p.m. onwards. Log on to www.book my show.com for tickets.