Music festival Bacardi NH7 Weekender hits Pune this weekend, celebrating 10 years of existence. And what better way than to mark this milestone by upping the game with a dedicated comedy stage?
While comedians have been taking stage at the festival before as well, this is the first time they are getting their own all-day zone with a heavy-duty lineup. If you’re excited (like we are) about watching three days of comedy, but aren’t entirely familiar with the lineup yet, here’s a scroll-through of the artists’ best work to give you an idea of what to expect.
He’s funny, he’s got serious musical talent, and his inner actor is in perpetual audition-mode. Musical comedy, podcasts, parodies, acting and a father in Bigg Boss, every part of Malik’s life is potential comedy gold. His latest Instagram series #InstaKavi is all the rage on social media RN, but catch him live because he’s doing both a music set (on the 30th) with all his greatest hits, and a second set (on the 1 December at 6.30 pm) with Kautuk Srivastava from their Jokes Without Borders show.
30 November | 6.50 pm
Co-winner of the second season of Comicstaan, Aakash Gupta is a Delhi comic who is forever lugging a bag full of absurd observations that are delivered with trademark Delhi angst.
1 December | 5.40 pm
If you’re well-versed with south Indian music styles and languages, there is no way you’re not going to be entertained. Proficient with more musical instruments than you can imagine, touring the world and effortlessly selling out show after show, Alex is the perfect combination of music and comedy all on his own.
1 December | 6.00 pm
Anubhav Singh Bassi
A prominent name from the Delhi circuit, you are likely to find yourself sniggering for as long as Bassi is on stage. He hooks you with anecdotes that are equal parts relatable and bizarre, reeling you all the way with machine-gun punchlines. Careful with your drink!
1 December | 4.30 pm
A Marathi collective, Bhartiya Digital Party (BhaDiPa) claims to be undemocratic, non-political and politically incorrect to ensure it’s one big party! Standup, sketch, music, and collaborations with Bollywood and indie artists, there’s nothing they’re not into. Regional standup is on the verge of blowing up, and these guys have already cemented their role in it.
1 December | 4.10 pm
Biswa Kalyan Rath
“Aye tatti, tera naam kya hai?”
This Mast Aadmi needs no introduction, so he’s not getting one. Even if you’re at Bacardi NH7 Weekender just for the music, do not leave the grounds without catching this guy’s comedy set. Regardless of what you thought of his latest special, Sushi, Rath’s control over the energy in any room at a live show is masterful. We’re putting our money on this one.
30 November | 6.30 pm
Ok, we’re putting our money on this one too. Gill is in top form right now, and a force to be reckoned with in India’s standup scene. This year, he’s done an international tour with Teetar (scheduled for a Netflix release later this year as Yours Sincerely), been signed onto one of the biggest international talent agencies, UTA, and his next stop is NH7 Weekender. A skilled writer with fierce comic timing, put him on your watchlist.
29 November | 6.35 pm
Something tells us you’ll show up at this one no matter what we say. And you’re unlikely to regret it (especially if he includes a new bit with animal impressions that he’s been testing at trial shows around the city). His schedule looks packed with international destinations in the coming months (he’s been signed onto William Morris Entertainment), so this might be a good place to catch him before he jets off again.
1 December | 7.10 pm
One of the pioneers of the Indian standup comedy scene, especially up north, Palta is loved for her bold quips, and for speaking her mind, without giving a single sh*t ki log kya kahenge.
1 December | 7.00 pm
She doesn’t have any YouTube videos up yet, but we’ve seen her live (she’s now a regular on the Mumbai scene), and she’s funny. Increasingly popular for her deadpan and dark comedy, she’ll make you laugh and then get into your head. Consider yourself warned. Here’s a tasting menu of how her head works:
1 December | 3.50 pm
Shetty confesses she doesn’t need alcohol, she has enough energy going anyway. One of the friendliest and most popular comics among comics, she’s likely to get on a nickname basis with you even before you’ve finished introducing yourself. Between her OCDs and anecdotes, she’ll have you in the right kinda splits.
29 November | 4.05 pm
One of the strongest contenders on the first season of Comicstaan, Singh has mastered the art of holding your attention and then deciding if she wants you to laugh your guts out, or sob like a baby while she has it. She gave fuckboys an existential crisis last year in a bit that dissected them so sharply, they weren’t sure they wanted to be fuckboys anymore. We love her voice, she’s always authentic, and you just please put her on your watchlist too. Thank us later.
29 November | 6.15 pm
30 November | 3.45-7.30 pm (hosting)
1 December | 3.45-7.30 pm (hosting)
There’s no one like Rahul Subramanian because, let’s face it, it takes a whole other skill set to be able to piss off an entire community… of DJs. Between his bizarre alter egos, observations, storytelling, and batshit imagination, we sometimes wonder if Subramanian lives in a parallel universe. You should visit it.
1 December | 6.20 pm
We can never tell what’s going on in Rajani’s head; it works in mysterious ways. He has a voice that’s just his own, a thought process that’ll catch you by surprise and a style that’ll keep you hooked.
29 November | 4.55 pm
Kaduskar is a fighter, who owns his stammer on every stage. He runs a comedy room, Brown Bread Collective, has a podcast, and is using all his funnies across the spectrum.
30 November | 3.50 pm
Joint-winner of the second season of Comicstaan with Akash Gupta, we could tell very quickly that this 21-year-old was going to make it to the top. His comedy is nuanced, creative, often risky. You feel compelled to break into applause after his performance – not just because he makes you laugh, but also in ways you didn’t think possible.
29 November | 4.20 pm
We don’t know who’s responsible for the way Bhat’s brain is wired, but thank god for it. Unpredictable as all hell, Bhat says the damnedest things without thinking twice, and always has her audience rapt. Take this weirdly compelling story about bathing in chaddis, for instance.
1 December | 4.40 pm
He’s a one-liner rapid-fire machine that shoots punchlines at you so fast you can never tell which joke you’re actually laughing at. He also tells jokes through his comic strip ‘Unsharpened Pencils’–so what doesn’t make it to his live set settles in here. He has a joke about how there’s no “I” in “Team”, which we once saw him perform live to an audience who didn’t laugh. “I think you didn’t get it” he declared, and then dedicated the next 20 minutes to repeat the one-liner at varying pace and volume till the audience applauded just so he’d let it go. Did it make it to his comic strip? Yep.
30 November | 4.50 pm
You’d think Chaturvedi is hella nervous while she takes on the mic. But it’s that nervous energy that works wonders for her. Intense observation delivered with uncanny innocence, you’ll find yourself shuttling between ‘Awww’, ‘WTF’ and ‘LOLOLOL’.
29 November | 4-7 pm (hosting)
30 November | 4.35 pm
Television comics and urban standup are often two separate worlds. But Sourav is a rare gem who’s made a smooth crossover. His style is raw, his mind spins out fresh premises, and his delivery is different from anything that you may have seen.
30 November | 4.20 pm
This one-woman band has a finger in every pie in the comedy world (standup, web series, director, sketch, short formats); she loves comedy more than anything. And every time Suresh gets on stage or in front of the camera, it shows. She also laughs easily herself and shouts a lot, even as she throws out bizarre life theories and observations, all of which we greatly appreciate.
30 November | 5.05 pm
Joshi’s effervescent personality makes it impossible for her to go unnoticed. She has the style, confidence and versatility to ace whatever is asked of her; all on display throughout the second season of Comicstaan.
29 November | 5.55 pm
A former Queen of Comedy, Bagga is all about the comedy of FeELinGs and standup mixed with short videos on Instagram that ‘blows our asses’. An Overthink Tank and staunch supporter of the idea that Dating Is Garbage, Bagga is also so fun to watch live.
29 November | 5.10 pm
If the Indian standup comedy scene is a kingdom, Ashfaq is one of its reigning masters. She’s awkward, always seems shocked by the words that come out of her own mouth, and everything from her Twitter account to her roles in viral comedy sketches makes us laugh.
1 December | 6.50 pm
Call him Varun or Vicky, he’s likely to respond to both with his trademark cheeky grin. He’s funny with or without filters, whether he’s hosting shows or sitting on podcasts, in standup comedy videos and on stage. Go. Catch him live.
1 December | 5.30 pm
The Salman Khan of Indian standup, Zakir Khan is a phenomenon. All he needs to do is show up and the audience already wants like five whole minutes just to applaud his presence. His videos have tens of millions of views each, his catchphrases have caught on like wildfire, and his poetry has touched hearts. Good luck finding standing space at his gig.
30 November | 7.10 pm
The one thing everyone knows to look forward to at Bacardi NH7 Weekender is their international headliners. And if that’s been the trend with their music lineup, there’s no reason the comedy roster should fall behind. This year, we have three artists from the Melbourne International Festival roadshow.
The winner of the Best Newcomer title at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2019, Freeman (23) is the youngest comedian coming down from Melbourne this year. He’s an anxious guy who gets off trains for reasons most people don’t and can be caught spending all his money at bookstores.
1 December | 5.10 pm
Michelle Brasier calls herself a professional idiot. A nominee for the Golden Gibbo award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in both 2017 and 2018, and the winner of Best Newcomer at Sydney Comedy Festival in 2018, Brasier’s energy on stage is wild. From a loop station to seductive songs about Alladin, you don’t want miss this act.
30 November | 5.20 pm
Think you had a weird first sexual experience or “awakening”? Wait till you watch Tom Cashman tell you about his. Best known for his show XYZ and joking with graphs and numbers, Tom has been a regular name at festivals like Edinburgh and Brisbane.
29 November | 4.35 pm
The #5StarKeLOLStar comedy stage at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender has a huge heart. Here are some additional surprises.
We’re nothing but a collection of stories; our own and some we gather along the way. Tape-A-Tale brings Yahya Bootwala, Helly Shah, Amandeep Singh, Kopal Khanna and Dushyant for storytelling that’s high on laughs. Are you ready?
29 November | 5.25 pm
30 November | 5.40 pm
A mentalist, Suhani Shah has gove across the globe with her performances, talks, and training programs. Is it her advanced understanding of the human mind? Some sort of magic? Well, how about you check it out for yourself? Who knows, you might be the one she picks from the crowd!
30 November | 6.10 pm
Book your tickets already.