Three years ago I chanced upon a job opening posted on Facebook. Having followed the rise of this progressive new content developers, curiously titled The Viral Fever, I was excited at the prospect of having a shot at joining the team. The office was a makeshift bungalow in Andheri West and the people running the show were not dressed that ostentatiously. Yet, there was a palpable sense of urgency among the members and a few moments in the “office” was enough to get a whiff of the creative plots developing at the place.
3 years later, TVF is the biggest web content producer in India and a plethora of viral (pun completely intented) videos and series have graced our mobile and desktop screens over the last few years. With investments around $ 10 million in their kitty, they have taken a swanky office space, hired resources (i didn’t get an offer, if you’re still wondering) and have used that money wisely to give us some of the best series content in recent years. Prominent among them being the start-up travails show “Pitchers”, the relationship roller-coaster “Permanent Roomates” and “Trippling with Tiago”, India’s first sibling travel diary mini-series. All these shows have been both critically acclaimed and also received unprecedented online traction. The youth has specially lapped these series up and every episode has received more than a million views on Youtube.
Last month, they unveiled another ambitious project which puts the spotlight on stand-up comedians and their journey. Humorously Yours is centred around a down-on-his luck stand up comedian Vipul Goyal who is struggling to stay afloat in this quickly saturating Live comedy circuit. Vipul plays a semi-fictional version of himself and derives inspiration from his own life for this script.
Stand Up comedy has become the urban equivalent of watching a play (naatak) in the last few years. Initially performed in selected pubs and restaurants for the elite, this form of interactive/humour from daily life shows have quickly caught on among the masses and many such comedians have sprung up and rode the bandwagon.
Humorously Yours is similar in treatment with Louis CK’s acclaimed Louie which runs on FX with its “extended vignettes” format and can also be compared in certain aspects to the cult classic Seinfeld, specially the sequences where a short segment from an actual live Stand-up of the lead is included in the episode itself. Vipul is surprisingly nuanced who brings forth the struggle to get noticed and his relations with his wife (the magnificent Rasika Dugal), his friend Bhushi (Abhishek Banerjee, whom you might recognise as the guy who delivered the catchy Tu Beer Hain speech from TVF’s Pitchers) and other characters. His confidence on stage and the lack of it in real life is brilliantly portrayed through some intelligent comedy and interactions, none more funny than the regular playful bickering between the couple.
Till now 3 episodes have been released and each episode highlights issues and events typical of the life of a stand up comedian. “M for Manager” shows us the pros and cons of hiring a manager. The episode starts with a risqué yet clever introduction where few clichés are dealt with head on and a lot of self mocking gives one a sense of what is to be expected. Cameos by the who’s who of the stand up world makes viewing all the more fun. From Tanmay Bhatt, Kanan Gill, Sapan Varma, Zakir Khan, Varun Thakur, most of the funny men from the stand up circuit have cameos in this series. Special mention needs to be made about the hilarious cameo by Tanmay Bhatt at the start of the second episode titled “Ranjit Walia Speaking”. The third episode focuses on the first big assignment for Vipul in Goa, but it is only at the end of the episode where the series really reaches the next level by touching your heart with a sweet car-ride and conversation between the lead couple. The third episode “Mera Pati” is mid way to the end of the first season and it is at this point that the series elevates itself from a story about the jump-starts experienced by Vipul to a bigger canvas which includes a well fleshed out relationship with his wife and his belief in his own abilities.
Watch this one on Youtube or by downloading the TVF App.
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