I may not be the best person in the world to review a standup comedy show considering that I have never attended one in my life. So, when I went to the LOL Walay’s show at the Pakistan American Cultural Centre on Saturday, two things were on my mind — the judgemental eyes of the audience and the anxiety of writing a review.
Generally, when it comes to comedy, I am the person whose is often made fun of for being a fan of the Kapil Sharma Comedy Show. Hey, it’s not that bad! I like simple jokes that don’t require me to use all those brain cells snoozing away over the weekend or turn into a philosophical ninja, because let’s just be honest, that place is a maze and I am not good at sports.
But here I am (not sure if that’s fortunate for the LOL Walay or unfortunate for the readers), writing this review because of my love for theatre and laughter. Read on to see what was a hit and a miss.
Being someone who pretty much lives under a rock, I was in for a surprise when I reached the venue and found that the show was based on improv comedy. Already dubious about my decision to be there in the first place, my brain had me convinced that the night was going to turn into a disaster.
But as I said above, I was in for a surprise.
Improvisational comedy is a situational style of the art that is unscripted and relies on candid responses from the audience. So the jokes, good or bad, totally depend on the crowd’s reactions.
The show started off fairly slow but ended well thanks to the segments arranged by the comedians. The troupe’s lineup, from the thanday jokes, which I am personally a fan of, to the hard-hitting ones, was way better than expected.
The show started off with a monologue from Akbar Chaudhry, that was very Kapil Sharma-like and hence pleasing for me. His engagement with the audience showed his mastery of the craft and set a tone for the rest of the show.
When the other comedians — Syed Kumail, Ali Gul Pir, Osama Sami and Sannan Wastan — took the stage, it took them a while to get into the groove of things but when they eventually did, it was a blast. From the shapatar boys references to dropping vague sexual innuendos here and there, they managed to get quite a few good reactions from the audience.
Here, I would also give credit to writers because that was really the charm. Beginning with one-liners, the show moved from small improvisations to recreating situations.
There were a lot of Aamir Liaquat, Imran Khan and Waqar Zaka references during the gaps but well, that can be blamed on our national obsession with these men.
When I said I feared being judged by the crowd, I meant it because the audience, to be very honest, wasn’t exactly diverse. I believe that in Pakistan, there are two types of people who attend such shows — social butterflies and those who are genuinely fond of theatre and performing arts.
At the show I attended, the audience majorly comprised of the first type of people. Hence, I was expecting some heckling — which is an art form on its own. However, sadly, there wasn’t any because whatever heckling was there just fell on deaf ears as the comedians were more focused on the punchlines.
It was also more to do with the audience because their response, especially that of older couple and parents, was dull and cold in some places.
There were also some jokes which may be perceived offensive or derogatory, but I would let them fly because comedians are not “jesters in courts”. The adage refers to when the joke is not about you. But the audience’s reaction to these jokes was rather political, showing that even laughter is supposed to be controlled, even during a comedy show.
All in all, the audience was a good sport, but like always, most of the people were there to update their social media accounts rather than enjoy the show.
The ambience and the environment
Trigger warning: There is going to be a lot of whining here.
The show was a full house and the auditorium was almost completely packed. I managed to get a good seat in the centre and luckily there was no one in front of me to block my view. However, just like always, I was dragged back to reality from la la land because a couple that entered just when the show was about to start pushed me to the far end of the row. The worst part was that the guy who took my seat was more interested in his phone than the show. What a waste!
Apart from that, however, the venue was great with good air conditioning and dim lights. But to be honest, these things were the least of my worries because the show was captivating and had us glued to our seats as our cheeks hurt with big smiles.
The show, my first ever, turned out to be way better than my expectations. I think that as an audience we need more events like these given the constant stress we face at home, at work and, especially, in the media.
Apart from that, fresh talent is always a plus. The last time I saw a comedy show was the one hosted by Umar Sharif back in the 90s. Hence, Chaudhry and his boys, with their ease and hard work, were adorable.
And for Rs2,000, the show was definitely not a bad bet.
I would rate the show a seven on 10. If you have attended a LOL Walay show before, let us know in the comments section what you thought.