A mixed bag of laughs at comedy night
By Maxwell Donaldson
If one thing proves whether a comedy night was actually funny, it’s having to put on an extra show due to high demand.
The ‘Friday Night Comedy’ series at Updown bar in the Grund got off to a start last week with headline act, Andras Puiz, delivering steady laughs throughout his time on stage. The series continues for the next two weeks but the organisers, Luxembourg Comedy, have had to add on an early show for 22 October because it is so popular.
Although Puiz’ two supporting acts, Conny Gengler and Moshsen Hosseini, had never done a paid set before last Friday, they won over the crowd with sporadic bursts of funniness.
The show was a real mixed bag of cultural, political, and observational comedy. A dominant theme was a side-on, satirical portrayal of Luxembourgish and other European cultures. The diversity of both the acts and the audience made this a very rich topic, and it felt more like a humorous celebration of Luxembourg’s cosmopolitanism, than anything else.
One of the comedians joked about the Delhaize supermarket in Luxembourg resembling a crystal maze because staff move things around constantly. Another teased about sitting in Luxembourg’s renowned peak-hour traffic complaining about all those people who are silly enough to take the car…as he sits there among them. Another takes a dig at Luxembourg’s multilingual scene, saying his once perfect English has deteriorated after speaking to people who make their own mistakes all the time.
There was not a single hint of things turning sour, even in the most risqué moments. The evening had a natural ebb and flow, with periods of belly-aching laughter, and others of light chuckling. The atmosphere was welcoming, the show was entertaining, and most people seemed to leave with the satisfaction of their Friday night having been well-spent.
Gengler, a born-and-bred native Luxembourger with a lifelong passion for stand-up, ranges from the crude, blunt style of Jim Jeffries, to the near-intellectual work of Dylan Moran (best known for his role in the dark comedy series, Black Books). Hosseini, who was forced to flee his home country of Iran a decade ago, has only recently found an interest in stand-up. He draws heavily on more experienced comics involved in Luxembourg comedy scene.
As is often the case comedy, there were some hits and misses, but it is safe to say that neither of the newcomers bombed.
Last week’s show was sold out, with around 30 people gathered in the basement of the Grund bar. The place had a cosy, grassroots comedy feel to it, and the setting felt as much like a small comedy club in London or New York, as it did the basement of a pub in Luxembourg.
The host and organiser, Deepu Dileepan, who has experience performing across the world, from India to London to the USA, stood out in particular, running the show with aplomb, setting the tone for the night and re-energising the crowd between every performance.
The comedy scene in Luxembourg has grown over the past few years, the four comedians said. It was not so long ago that there were just a handful of people going to open mic nights every month. Now, the lower floor of Updown is packed every Thursday for open mic night and the organisers have to double up the paid shows on Friday nights – something which was “inconceivable” three or four years ago, Puiz said.
Most comedy enthusiasts have probably wondered at some point whether comedians learn to be funny or whether they are born with it.
All four of Friday’s comics felt there must be a bit of both. While a lot of people are naturally funny, stand-up is a skill, which can (and, even for those naturally funny individuals,) must be learned, they said. Making the transition from a ‘funny guy’ into a professional comedian is not easy. Dileepan recited a bit of common wisdom that circulates amongst stand-up comics: “get funny, or quit”. Once we all finished chuckling, there was a sense that this was the right note to end things on — a last laugh, at least until next Friday.
Luxembourg Comedy’s ‘Friday Night Comedy’ are held at Updown bar in the Grund and all shows are in English.