Kathmandu hosts its first international comedy festivalTop of the World Comedy Festival has attracted a lot of talent from around the world.
At the entrance of the Thamel-based House of Music, stood Ludo Van Vooren, the producer of the first comedy festival in the country—Top of the World Comedy Festival. The happy Van Vooren looked pre-occupied—welcoming guests who were eagerly waiting for the international comedians to begin their performance. Having started the first international comedy festival in Nepal, he seemed a little nervous and fairly excited.
Along with Van Vooren, Fidor Ikelaar, the director of the festival, was busy too—setting the stage for the first performer to begin the show. Ikelaar, who is originally from the Netherlands, has been living in Nepal with his wife for the past two years. It was in Kathmandu where he was introduced to the world of stand-up comedy. He then participated in several shows organised by Comedy Tuk Tuk and others, and then went on to travel abroad to participate in similar festivals and shows. Ikelaar then became keen on sharing the experience he had performing on the international stage with Nepali stand-up comedians, and thus was born Top of the World Comedy Festival.
“I have performed in Nepal and a few countries abroad. And because the Nepali stand-up comedy scene is very young, I felt it was important that the comedians here get international exposure here in their own country,” said Ikelaar.
The first edition of Top of the World Comedy featured 31 comedians for its five-day event. The curtain raiser was held on September 16 with seven Nepali comedians performing their comedy on the stage. The first show, which was hosted by Prasiddha Tiwari, had well-known Nepali comedians Sajan Shrestha, Alan Jung Thapa, Aadarsh Mishra, Utsab Sapkota, Aashish Ghimire, Rishav Kafle and Apoorva Kshitiz Singh do what they do their best.
Along with Nepali comedian stalwarts, the event had some popular comedians that broke the audiences into fits of laughter with their performances. The Indian comedy club Mad Bee, in collaboration with Top of the World, had Aakash Singh, Prajwal Raj, Shaurya Basu, Sreyo Mukherjee, Surya Agarwal and Vinay Tiwari perform on the stage for the second day. The festival also saw the international award-winning comedian Matt Davis perform his latest show BadFamiliar, a compilation of performer’s ideas from over 250 cities across more than 40 countries.
“Our objective is to give Nepali audience the best of both worlds: the comedy club in Nepal is young and has a diverse taste in comedy, and we wanted to present all those flavours on a single platter to our audience,” said Ikelaar.
The Danish director of the festival informed that the inception of the show had begun from early 2019 and they wanted to ensure that everything was well organised.
On the third day of the festival, Kathmandu’s very own ventriloquist, Seema Golchha, set the stage on fire with her puppet, followed by acts from some renowned international comedians—Kate Cheka, Ori Halevy, Scott Mitchell, Scott Adams and Ollie Horn.
Speaking about debuting on the Nepali comedy stage, Ori Halevy who is originally from Israel, said, “I never prepare for my shows; comedy is spontaneous, let’s see what happens on the stage there.”
When Shraddha Verma, a Nepali stand-up comedian, who was the host of the show, called out Scott Mitchell, the House of Music (temporarily renamed House of Comedy) lit up with the audience’s laughter and noise.
The event, concluding on September 20, successfully brought together artists from all over the world—India, America, Europe. “I hope the festival has given the Nepali comedians the opportunity to collaborate with experienced comedians,” says Ikelaar.