Contrary to what one would believe about improvisational comedy, being a good improviser isn’t about being ‘funny,’ and that’s where many improvisers today go wrong. There are multiple improv troupes around the country today (so if you still don’t know what improv is then you need to get out of the house a little more) but unfortunately, they aren’t able to sustain themselves. We keep hearing about new troupes popping up and disbanding and usually, the reason behind it is that their shows don’t generate enough business to stay in the game. And that’s because on stage, you’ll see these improvisers trying to be funny. And when a performer starts to be more concerned about appearing funny or cracking good one-liners, that is where the improv show starts to go wrong.
Let us explain this with another example. Lahore Se Aagey has been criticised for not having a concrete plot, relying on Yasir Hussain’s one-liners, which may make you smile or laugh every now and then but aren’t enough to drive the film. In the same way, an improv show also has to have a plot or a story. That is what improvisers need to worry about, and a good improv performer will remember to do just that.
There is no one else in the country doing improv as effectively as the LOL Waalay, a group of young, talented boys who like to perform on stage because they enjoy it, even though they don’t necessarily make a lot of money out of it. There have been multiple instances where the boys have put money from their own pockets to book the P.A.C.C auditorium, just to put out a show, and people always leave the theatre in fits of laughter. We’ve also seen (or rather overheard) people coming in to the auditorium, passing mean comments in the back seats at the beginning of the show (it takes a few minutes for the performers to warm up) and watched with delight when their cynicism turns into roaring appreciation. And the best part is, every performer on stage is able to come up with strong ideas that will create narratives in a matter of seconds. They don’t try to outdo one another or forget the rules of the game.
The troupe consists of performers who have prior experience with theatre, acting and television so that definitely works in their favour. For instance, Zubair Tariq has an excellent command over his theatrical skills, having worked in Nida Butt’s musicals; Osama Sami has worked with Saad Haroon and has now blossomed into a mature comedian, having just recently performed his first solo show. Aadi Adeel Amjad also has years of theatre experience and is a very prominent face of the theatre circuit. And all the others in the troupe, such as Sannan Wastani, Akbar Chaudry (who is in the US at the moment for his Masters in Aerospace Engineering ) and Syed Muhammad Kumail, also have years of experience with comedy. And as the troupe takes the stage again and again, they get better every time.
Last weekend the troupe performed their Movember show to a full auditorium and all of them were in full form. Usually we have one criticism or suggestion after every performance, but last weekend, each and every member brought their best foot forward. For instance, in one game, they had to play the world’s worst superheroes, and everyone’s interpretation of a bad superhero was hilarious. From a Powerpuff girl who didn’t want to save the day and wanted to get mehndi put on her hands instead, to Batman shouting at his mom for stitching his underwear outside his clothes. Also, having stand-up comedian Junaid Akram open the show for them was perhaps the best idea because the crowd had already warmed up by the time the performers took the stage.
This brings us to another announcement that the troupe has made. For the last couple of shows, comedian Ali Gul Pir has also been performing with the troupe which left many wondering whether this is going to be a recurrent feature. Pir has announced that he has officially joined the troupe and will be performing regularly. Pir’s fan following developed much before he shot to stardom with ‘Waderay Ka Beta’ because of his comic timing on shows like Aisa Karoge Tou Kon Ayega and Lipton Light On Hai so it’s refreshing to see the viral internet star come back to the stage.
What we do hope to see now from the troupe is to take things to the next level. The amount of talent these boys have really goes unappreciated in terms of how many people actually know about them. Their shows always see a full house at the P.A.C.C but we feel that their work is hilarious enough to be featured on national television.