India’s next outsourcing boom: comedy

MUMBAI, July 13, 2009 (AFP) – In 1979, Don Ward opened a small club in London to provide a stage for the best of Britain’s undiscovered comic talent. After 30 successful years, he now wants to do the same in India. Ward is taking The Comedy Store out of Britain for the first time, opening a branch in India’s cosmopolitan entertainment capital Mumbai to give audiences a taste of the best of international stand-up and to foster home-grown talent.

“There’s a tremendous comedy scene in the United Kingdom, which has just 60 million people,” Ward told AFP by telephone from his London home. “India has 1.2 billion people. It’s easy to do the maths.

“I think there’s going to be a comedy explosion (in India).”

In India, comedy in Hindi and other indigenous languages still tends to see comedians delivering pithy one-liners on television shows or theatre satires lampooning politicians and society’s quirks.

Its English-language comedy scene is small in comparison, although Indian comics such as Vir Das and Papa CJ or Canadian Russell Peters, whose family is of Anglo-Indian origin, have attracted a loyal following.

Like Ward, Papa CJ and Peters believe India’s stand-up scene can be developed and,