If you follow him on Instagram, you’ll know that Abhishek Upmanyu announced that he will be starting live comedy shows from the first week of July. In a series of stories, the comedian—who is currently in Chandigarh—detailed his plans for safe, socially-distant comedy shows in the green zone (with only 51 active COVID-19 cases), as well as in Mohali and Panchkula. He is the first Indian comedian to return to the stage since the lockdown was imposed this March.
Upmanyu will be performing limited-capacity shows every day for two weeks (contingent on ticket sales). And, before you ask, there are no shows planned in New Delhi or Mumbai (both struggling to cope with the surge in COVID-19 cases). After all, “pandemic chal raha hain yaar, thodi toh izzat karni padegi pandemic ki,” he says in his Instagram story. However, the comedian announced that the shows will be uploaded to YouTube so people across the country can access them.
DeadAnt spoke to Upmanyu to get all the details for you (if you live in Chandigarh, Mohali or Panchkula obviously).
Q1: What are the safety precautions that will be put in place for these live shows?
First, the shows will only happen at one-fifth capacity of the auditorium. At a 150-seater venue, we will only sell 30 tickets per show. Depending on how many people have booked tickets, a seating chart will be created. Suppose five groups of five people have booked tickets for a 25-seater show, we will create the seating plan as per that in accordance with social distancing protocols. Then this plan will be sent to them individually to check if they are comfortable with it. Once the attendees approve it, we’ll send the payment link.
Second, there’s an app in Punjab—Cova—that marks whether you’re safe or unsafe. You can only attend the show if your status is safe.
Thirdly, only people between the ages of 18-45 are allowed to attend these shows. Additionally, those with co-morbidities like high blood pressure are not allowed.
On the day of the show, face shields will be provided (as part of the ticket cost). There will be temperature checks and the first row of seats will be six to eight feet away from the stage.
Q2: What prompted you to return to the stage so quickly after the lockdown?
It’s been three months and I haven’t done any live shows, so I was getting frustrated and I thought let’s just go for it. Also, Chandigarh is a green zone so it’s a bit easier to do shows here. The shops and all are now open. I decided this the moment my parents asked me to come home. So, 10 days ago. Then we planned how it can be done safely.
Q3: How do you book tickets for these shows?
Tickets for these shows will not be sold through BookMyShow or Insider. Instead, we’ll send a payment gateway link. Ticket prices will be very cheap, just enough for the producers (The Laugh Club in Chandigarh) to recover their costs.