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27 Sep

How nervousness helps improvisational comedians

What started off nearly 5 years ago has blossomed into a highly successful comedy troupe, one that carries a lot of expectations. Every time the Lol Waalay boys are performing, the show is usually packed with people expecting to see the best comedy show ever. Naturally these expectations make the boys nervous, and right before the show, the boys could be found trying to wade off their anxiety.

“It’s pre-show jitters” says a nervous Sannan Wastani, one of the comedians in the troupe. He is using his phone to distract himself from the performance. Others can also be seen loitering around PACC. Ali Gul Pir is pacing back and forth in the parking lot. Ali Safina has hid himself from all outsiders. Even after all this time, they still get nervous? “These nerves are good. It means we’ll deliver a good performance,” explains Pir. But is it normal to be this visibly nervous before a show?

The answer to that question is yes, specially if you’re performing an improv show. For those who don’t quite have a handle on what improv is, it’s comedy that is written and acted right there on the spot. The comedians do not prepare or practice anything, they simply come and act out a show that is largely guided by the suggestions of the audience. Therefore the intelligence and quick wit required to perform such a show is very demanding – it’s not something everyone can do.

But the Lol Waalay boys do it flawlessly, every time. When they finally do come on stage, the boys seem comfortable in their skin; they conduct themselves confidently and no one could believe if I told them what was happening back stage.

The usual contenders of the troupe, Wastani along with Osama Sami, Zubair Tariq and Muhammad Kumail of course have more practice, since they perform at least one public show every month. But the celebrity guests who are appearing this time, Pir and Safina, have less practice. Pir has prior experience with improv, therefore he knows the techniques inside out, but Safina has ever attempted improv before. He does a stellar job, taking advantage of his acting experiences; while Safina did not have the punch line of every joke, he really added to the show with his suggestions and expressions.

Of course, it’s a bold thing to attempt. Not knowing whether or not people will find your instantly created jokes and moves funny can’t be an easy thing to overcome. But these comedians simply take the risk, and more often than not, their risks are well worth it.

Staff Reporter