In an era of ever-increasing glocalization, the view that comedy cannot cross over cultures and languages is simply outdated. Granted some things may not work. However, if the comedy hits to the core of what we are about, then I think it makes us chuckle – no matter our background.
Last month I reinforced my opinion when I attended the English Stand Up Comedy at the local pub Stoned. A Japanese gal and an American walked into the bar with me (a EuroBrit), and were joined by two of my German friends for a night of guffaws and rib ticklers.
These were a few of their impressions of a night covering stereotypes, cultural confusion and shock, work, and sex:
American girl: “I thought the host was great and was the highlight overall – very engaging and performed his duties great.”
German girl: “Keep going there for the Berlin meets Leipzig meets the rest of the world atmosphere. And I don’t know whether it’s due to the free booze that comes with the entrance fee but I continue to laugh at the host’s joke about his name even though I heard it before.”
Japanese girl: “The host was the best point of the night and the other acts were all entertaining as well, and overall a great way to spend the night.”
After these glowing responses, I was curious as to just why, as an adoptive Berliner, the entertaining host from the UK chose this format and locale.
A peek into Dhar and his comedy
Dharmander Singh or Dhar as he is known in Deutschland (more on this nickname later) ended up where he is now through theatre and being drawn to the comedy of Richard Pryor.
He had been an actor since he was a kid, and got a job fresh out of college. The director who first hired him got him to give stand-up comedy a try. Doing a lot of small-scale touring stuff and theatre in education gave him the confidence for comedy.
“You perform in front of a class of kids who sometimes really don’t give a damn, and you got to get their attention or at least try to keep them focused . That is similar to a comedy audience,” says Dhar.
He sort of slipped into the comedy scene in Berlin, hosting a show called Baum Haus with his now promoter and business partner, Neil Numb. The shows increased in popularity and he started doing more and more comedy.
As it happens, Dhar came to Leipzig through another top bloke and theatre buddy, Tom Bailey of English Theatre Leipzig. Liking the layout and vibe of the bar Stoned, and with Tom bending his arm, he was down for trying out a comedy show locally. Dhar thought the place suited the format of 3 to 4 comics with a linking host.
English Stand Up Comedy has had performers from all corners of the world. In July, we heard Daniel Louis Vezza (US), Brittni Bowering (CAN) and Karl Floitgraf (US). The August show’s lineup featured Imaan Hadchiti (AUS, pictured in this article’s gallery), Filippo S Fico (ITY) and James Rankin (AUS).
Plus, you get to see Dhar in action as the host.
Dhar is always looking out for new acts through the popular group Cosmic Comedy Berlin, and calls out for interested comedians to contact him. And you Leipzigers will just have to come to Stoned Saturday night to hear the running joke regarding the nickname he chose for himself – and the hilarity it causes in different languages.
Update: English Stand Up Comedy XIII
Saturday, 24 September, 9:30 p.m.-midnight
Stoned Leipzig, Kolonnadenstr. 15
Entrance: €7, incl. a drink (Astra/Vita)