'A whole different ball game:' Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani on turning hosts in Amazon Prime Video India's LOL - Hasse toh Phasse
Hosts Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani, and comedians Sunil Grover, Aditi Mittal, Cyrus Broacha and Suresh Menon weigh in on being a part of LOL - Hasse toh Phasse and competing with old friends and co-workers.
It is very common to see stand-up comedians do solo acts but for 10 comic artists to come together under one roof for a show is unheard of - at least not seen in India so far. Amazon Prime Video’s Last one Laughing (LOL), a television show franchise with some of its parts released in Australia and Mexico is now making its way to India. The comedy show, titled LOL - Hasse toh Phasse will be hosted by Boman Irani and Arshad Warsi and will have 10 of India’s large captivating comedians to battle up, to keep a straight face while attempting to make their rivals giggle. The show will be streaming with six episodes and it premieres on Amazon Prime on 30 April.
Co-hosts Boman Irani and Arshad Warsi, who have collaborated in films such as the Munnabhai series, Jolly LLB, Legend of Michael Mishra and Hum Tum Aur Ghost among others will be keeping an eye on 10 of India's best comics: Sunil Grover, Gaurav Gera, Suresh Menon, Cyrus Broacha, Kusha Kapila, Mallika Dua, Aditi Mittal, Aadar Malik, Ankita Srivastava, and Aakash Gupta who try to do their best to be the "last one laughing" in this comedy battleground. “Boman and I may have collaborated on multiple films but we have not done anything more fun than this. Hosting a show is a whole different ball game and the concept is so interesting. It was fun to watch these outstanding funny guys do what they do best. We haven’t been in such a concentrated zone. This is unreal. How they have done it I fail to understand because it is so difficult. Boman and I wanted to see for how long we don't laugh, for how long we can resist but we couldn’t do it. We did some work in between (laughs) and we just enjoyed ourselves,” says Warsi.
“Look, when it comes to humour it all depends on the moment. It is not a scripted show. But if the joke is funny and the other guy is not allowed to laugh how demoralising it is for the contestant. It is scary. But we used to hear laughter from the control room where the technicians operated from, and I heard a few days back that they could hear Arshad and me laughing which was a room faraway. It is very difficult to invent jokes on the fly and have nobody smile but they got some reward in the form of Arshad, the control room and me. It must have been really tough to a contestant and be in that room,” says Irani.
For many of these comic artists competing with their old-time friends on the show was the major challenge, as actor-comedian Sunil Grover, says, “When I entered the house and saw so many funny people around who knew humour so well I felt it was going to be very difficult to survive. And it became even more difficult with people like Suresh Menon and Gaurav Gera. For me they were the biggest threat because I have known them for a long time, we have worked together, we have attended parties together and there is an equation like friends. Then it becomes difficult to save yourself. I start laughing looking at Suresh when he makes those faces, and with Gaurav we have some personal jokes. I felt I won’t be able to last in this show.”
“There’s a history of events that have happened with your old, close friends, you are reminded of so many old memories, so it becomes difficult to compete with them. And the game is not just about not laughing but even a smile can also get you disqualified. Secondly, you can’t stand in a corner watching others, you have to participate. You have to be alert throughout those six hours if you want to survive in that house and it can get really exhausting. I was alert especially with the new generation straight face comic like Adar. We don’t know what to expect from them,” adds Gaurav Gera, actor-comedian. “But it was a beautiful experience. Usually, you are asked to be part of a fiction show, or a stage show. That is not easy, of course, but we had never imagined we will be invited to play such a game with such talented people under one roof for six hours,” says Grover.
For Aditi Mittal, one of the better-known faces of the Indian-English stand-up comedy, who didn’t know any of her rivals in the house, didn’t know what to expect. “We had about an hour to meet each other before the show had been shot and after that it was very difficult. I didn’t know what to expect also. I had decided not to make eye contact with anybody but these are all experts in the field and I was also curious about what they are doing. So it was me trying to make eye contact and not trying to make eye contact at the same time,” she laughs, furthering, “Everybody was a threat to me. I had done my research very well but I thought they would laugh more easily. I was taken aback by how tough each one was when they put on their faces. If not for my jokes, I thought they would laugh at least at the awkward situation, random silence..Eventually I felt they were all going through bad times, they want the prize money really badly that they have become so serious." (laughs-out-loud).
Grover narrates an anecdote while they were on the show. “In one round Aditi was trying to make me laugh and had she stayed for five to six seconds more I would have burst out laughing. To control myself (from laughing) I was thinking about the difficult times in my life such as how I flunked my exam in seventh grade...The moment she left I was saved,” says Grover leaving Mittal disappointed. “My game remained incomplete,” sighed Mittal. “All the participants were outstanding. They were so supportive of each other. Of course, they were competing but during breaks they would praise each other, they would acknowledge how they got saved, how they didn’t laugh but how that moment was fantastic..If nobody laughs you feel you have got an egg on your face, you feel stupid. But they kept fighting along,” says Irani.
Well-known comedian, television anchor and podcaster Cyrus Broacha got the feel of a party game while doing the show. “But there is a huge difference when you play with professionals for six hours,” says Broacha, who also calls the show as an ‘educated Bigg Boss’, “because everyone here is nice”. “It is extremely different (from Bigg Boss) where nobody is trying to catch attention, in fact, everybody is trying not to catch attention to them and that is the best part of the whole show. You try to hide but you can’t hide, you try to keep quiet but you can’t do so, you try to laugh and you can’t laugh,” says actor-comedian Suresh Menon, for whom Broacha was a major threat. “The moment I entered the room and saw Cyrus, I told myself, ‘The game is over for me’.”
Besides the humour, Warsi feels there will always be more excitement for the audience who will be waiting to see who is going to smile, or laugh first, or who’s the first one to get disqualified. “Also, at one time there are 10 people and all of them are busy. It is not a one-man show, not a stand-up show where only one person is performing; all the 10 contestants are performing simultaneously. If you have seen it once, you have not actually seen the show. You may want to see what the other guy was doing, what was going on at the back...It is like watching a new show each time,” concludes Warsi.
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