One Mic Stand conceived by comedian Sapan Verma is Amazon Prime’s latest love affair with comedy. The concept of the show is unique and indeed fresh. Have you ever seen an actor doing stand-up? Or your favourite politician digging at his much teased in vogue English? Or a musician, who is fierce on stage while performing, talks about the importance of mental health through comedy? Amazon Prime’s latest offer is exactly that and much more.
Making the Stand
The makers intend to choose personalities for the show from contrasting backgrounds; however, two out of the five performers are the leading faces of Bollywood such as Taapsee Pannu and Richa Chaddha. Apart from these talented actors, there is Bhuvan Bum – one of the most popular YouTuber of recent times running a channel called BB Ki Vines with nearly 15.2 Mn subscribers. There is politician, writer and the nation’s “unofficial English teacher” Shashi Tharoor and singer, composer Vishal Dadlani.
Verma says there were two main criteria for picking guests for One Mic Stand – if they have enough body of work to talk about and if they have enough sense of humour. Though the cast could have been more diversified to be abreast with the format, Verma (the creator) clarified that it was difficult to convince a politician or an activist to take part in such a gig show.
And the Mic Roared
The show consists of five episodes with the set format – establishing the context of the performer, the performance of the mentor to warm up the audience, training, a short piece by Verma and then the main performance of the star.
Bhuvan Bam says he is very comfortable hiding behind his characters and making people laugh but stand-up in front of a live audience is a different ball game altogether. Mentored by Zakir Khan (the Haq Se Single fame), Bam’s piece was a fun one and was appreciated with a good roar of laughter by the audience. Any aspiring stand-up comedian will find this episode’s training montage interesting and insightful. However, the rest of the training sessions can be easily skipped without feeling contrite about it.
The second episode stars Taapsee Pannu who has been seen playing some prominent roles in films like ‘Baby’ and ‘Pink’. She emerges as a confident stand-up comedian in her debut stand-up show. The episode starts with Pannu making some coffee in her lavish house in Mumbai. Cut to another scene, we see the actor meeting the mentor and the host at another posh pub in Mumbai – playing video games, bowling and having bull sessions but nothing close to mentoring (the actor was mentored by Angad Singh Ranyal). In her gig, Pannu picked on award functions and online trolls. Though the observations were interesting, it fails to tickle your funny bone.
Next comes Richa Chaddha, an astounding actor who came into the limelight with films like ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ (2012), ‘Masaan’ (2015) and ‘Sarbjit’ (2016). She did not fail to amuse as a comedian as well. Mentored by AIB famed Ashish Shakya, Chaddha jabbed on issues like objectification in the name of cinema where the actor shared her own experience of below the belt demands by the directors and producers. She also talked about the society’s stagnant mindset even after bagging national awards and her relative’s reactions when they were enlightened about her dating a guy called Ali Fazal. Chaddha completely owned the stage mimicking away the directors or just an old aunty. And this is one of the episodes where I enjoyed the fresher’s performance more than the expert.
Another captivating but underrated performance was Vishal Dadlani’s. In his bit, he chose mental health as a subject and shared his own experience of visiting a therapist. What was meant to be funny and entertaining, turned out to be a meta-analysis of understanding mental health and the importance of seeing a therapist when one needs to – although the message was delivered subtly in jest.
Then comes the walking dictionary. 😆
The much-awaited performance of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor was kept along with another really hilarious comedian of the generation Kunal Kamra. Personally, this is the only episode which is the most fun to watch without skipping the intro or fast-forwarding the main performance. Where in one hand, Kamra dugs on the right-wing leaders and right inclined journalists as usual; one in particular “jo bolna tha bol bhi diya … naam bhi nei liya … because nation already knows”. On the other, Tharoor cracked a few jokes on his much-hyped English and current political climate of India.
The best part of ‘One Mic Stand’ is that all the episodes are independent. So, you can always skip and watch your favourite star first. It is not one of the funniest shows as we have a platter of good comedians and good shows on the web, but the effort and the uniqueness of the concept deserves at least one watch of every episode.