Kolkata has a new comedy venue dedicated solely to standup! Calcutta Comedy Company opened its doors to a full house on 23 October. The 32-seater club’s first show was headlined by comedian Vaibhav Sethia and hosted by ‘Chief Comedy Officer’ Anyaman Majumdar. We got in touch with Majumdar and CCC owner Sukrit Poddar to learn more about the Tollygunge-based club.
Poddar and Majumdar’s decision to start CCC is a measured one, born out of years of work in the industry. Poddar credits prior experience arranging open mics at the Chaiwala, a cafe he owns, and his own background in fine arts with his interest in standup. “I’ve always wanted to support individual artists, be it visual art or performing arts. I’ve backed standup comedy since the inception of the Chaiwala and am personally a huge fan of the art form, especially because it can be subtly provocative about current socio-political issues,” said Poddar.
And while Poddar ran regular open mics, Majumdar has been dabbling in standup since 2015, when comedian Sourav Ghosh convinced him to try his hand at it while they were RJs at Fever Kolkata. Poddar and Majumdar discovered a new appetite for standup after the pandemic with local comedians performing sold-out shows. Majumdar said, “We were surprised. Main socha, chalo ek baar traction ke kaaran hua hai. But it happened multiple times, like there was a flow to it. Matlab, Calcutta ka apna scene logon ko kheech raha hai. Tab mere ko laga ki agar logon mein yeh andar se baat aa gayi hai ki, ‘standup comedy ek product hai, aur yeh product hum khareed sakte hain’, then why don’t we—who’ve been in the scene for such a long time—try to organise and push it as an entertainment alternative?”
Majumdar has full faith in the talent of comedians in Kolkata. “Log actually YouTube se hi judge kartein hain, ki jinhone YouTube pe kill kiya hai set ko, woh hi ache hai. Maine kaafi logon ko personally dekha hai. I have seen Raunaq Rajani, Navin Noronha, Aakash Mehta… sabko maine dekha hai. I have seen how good they are. Same with the Bangalore comics as well. They’re so strong. Aap soch bhi nahin sakte ki kitne sharp lines hai unke. They know exactly kahaan pe punchline maarna hai taaki the audience erupts. Yeh sab toh main chahunga hi na, ki mere sheher ke log bhi dekh paayein?” He continued, “Humara pool bhi bahut strong hai. Maybe we don’t have big names jinke YouTube pe 100k subscribers hai, lekin on a given day, jab aap aayenge tab main challenge ke saath aapko keh sakta hu, agar ticket Rs. 200 ki hai toh aap aake mujhe nahin bolenge ki wapas karo Rs. 200.
Majumdar hopes that CCC will grow into Kolkata’s one-stop destination for everything comedy, “Every comedy lover should know this place and every comedy practitioner should recommend this place.” He continued, “Main chahta hoon aisa ho jaaye ki agar Abhishek (Upmanyu) ko ek small room karna hai Calcutta mein, toh sabse pehle CCC ko phone kare. Aur sochiye ki agar koi baccha Calcutta mein ghumne aaye, woh jaise Howrah Bridge dekhta hai, woh CCC mein aake bhi ek ghanta bitaye. This should also be a must-do thing.”
CCC currently runs five shows between Friday and Sunday. The first—a 6 PM slot is inspired by open mics run at the Chaiwala, the venue Kolkata standup royalty like Anirban Dasgupta, Vaibhav Sethia and Sourav Ghosh would frequent in their early days as standup comics. Incidentally, the Chaiwala is just adjacent to CCC, and also owned by Poddar (so patrons get discount coupons for some of South Calcutta’s best tea between shows *wink*).
On Saturday, the club runs two shows featuring eight comics in the evening after 4 PM. Majumdar says he tries to keep the sets short and tight, “Attention span baccho ka kam ho raha hai reels ke aane ke baad!” So, nothing more than 20 minutes. And on Sundays, CCC features upcoming local talent in Comedy Gen-Next at 4 PM before turning the heat up with the Comedy Faceoff at 7 PM. The flagship show pits four comedians against each other, with an audience member called the laugh umpire deciding the winner.
CCC also plans on setting up open mics for complete comedy newbies soon and in case you’re looking for a spot, all you have to do is message them on their Instagram (@calcuttacomedycompany)!