Nitin Mirani isn't selling jokes - he's buying laughter
Carolines on Broadway, New York, and Yuk Yuk's in Toronto, Canada, are two of the most famous comedy clubs in the world, playing host to comedians such as Jim Carrey, Dave Chapelle and Russell Peters.
With his passion for comedy, the Dubai-based Nitin Mirani used to dream of performing one day on those same stages. When that dream was recently realised - he performed at Carolines on Broadway a year ago and at Yuk Yuk's in February - he says it felt "surreal".
Today, the Indian national, who founded the comedy brand Komic Sutra, is taking his latest concept - Laugh Your Assets Off - global.
Having worked in theatre, TV and local feature films such as City of Life, Mirani aims to also explore potential roles in Bollywood and Hollywood.
Jokes with the boss
"Laugh Your Assets Off is the region's first and only corporate comedy, which not only specialises in tailor-made sets for clients, but will also provide Rent a Comic services, where companies can book us for a session of 'Humourtainment'," says Mirani, from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe - his latest gig.
Knowing the boss and staff can laugh at the same jokes increases employee morale and "decreases the gap between different levels of an organisation and unites them in a chorus of laughter", he says.
Since the concept's launch in June, clients in need of a little lunchtime humour to shake things up in the office have already included du, DP World, PepsiCo and Eros Group. The idea has also received international attention.
A typical de-stressing event involves employee participation and ranges from having a theatre-style set-up to performing for staff at their seats.
Mirani and fellow Dubai-based comedian Salman Qureshi first performed for the Abu Dhabi chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, poking fun at finance and the industry.
"We included skits like getting a bunch of accountants to come up with a marriage proposal using only accounting terms in the sentence," he says.
Comic relief is healthy
As a comedian for seven years, Mirani describes his style as observational, interactive and non-offensive.
"As I always say - I'm not selling jokes, I'm buying laughter," he says. "To achieve good results, we research internal working-cultures, habits and slang used in their industry."
This often surprises employees with an outsider's perspective, using global humour varying from the way the receptionist answers the phone to the "oxymoronic comments at job interviews by HR professionals". That way, to add that extra kick, the show is not just for the employees but "about" them, too.
"I'm sure you've probably heard laughter is the best medicine, which may sound like an old wives' tale, but it's been scientifically proven laughter is good for the heart. When you laugh, your blood vessels expand, allowing blood to flow more easily," says Mirani.
Putting the local scene on the global map
Because of the variety of nationalities, Dubai is one of the best cities to start a career in comedy, he believes.
"As a comedian, the ability to interact and see many reactions to a joke in one room gives us security and leaves us content. I'm extremely pleased to see comedy blooming in the UAE with regular nights such as 1Up comedy, Dubai Laughing, et cetera," he says.
Big surprises are also headed this way. "Without giving much away, I'm excited to let you know that in the coming months, I'll be involved in a mega-project that will not only place Dubai and Abu Dhabi on the comedy map but also make them one of the most happening comedy circuits in the world," he says.
Mirani is also preparing to perform for the US Army in Dubai again this year after a successful yet "scary" first gig, which he at first thought was a prank.
Also, after a successful Komic Sutra in London this week, Mirani is performing the show to represent Dubai and India at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which runs until August 27, before touring Hong Kong, the Philippines, South Africa, New Zealand, Fiji and Australia. In October, he will bring Komic Sutra back to Dubai.
Published: August 1, 2012 04:00 AM