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From Thali of Comedy to multiple genres, Amazon Prime Video ups its game

Amazon Prime Video is all set to launch the second season of its Unscripted Original Series – ‘Comicstaan’. ‘Comicstaan’ thus becomes the first Indian Amazon Original to launch a second season. Launched as part of Prime Day 2019 celebrations, the 8-episode hunt for India’s next big comedy sensation will commence from July 12, 2019. Being a weekly release, Prime Members across 200 countries and territories can watch the first three episodes of ‘Comicstaan’ Season 2 on July 12, followed by a new episode releasing every Friday. 

Prime Day 2019, Amazon’s biggest global shopping event on July 15 and 16 will see two days of epic deals, product launches, as well as entertainment experiences, including Prime Day concert, 14 new movies and shows every day as a lead up to Prime Day.

This season, popular comedians Zakir Khan, Neeti Palta, along with Season 1 host Sumukhi Suresh join the panel of veteran judges from the first season – Biswa Kaylan Rath, Kanan Gill, Kenny Sebastian and Kaneez Surka. The host of Season 1, Abish Mathew, will be joined this time by another popular name in the stand-up comedy circuit, Urooj Ashfaq. 

Commenting on the launch, Vijay Subramaniam, Director and Head, Content, Amazon Prime Video India, said, “When we first launched the service in India, we identified comedy as one of the most important genres for our customers and we focused on providing a strong selection, while also creating a disruptive unscripted format for them. We believe we delivered on this promise through ‘Comicstaan Season 1’, which, in many ways, was a game-changer in the way unscripted comedy content is viewed in India. The show with its pioneering format received a phenomenal response from audiences and encouraged us to push the boundaries of creativity further. So here we are, with a brand new season of this exciting show with fantastic new talent, a new jury panel and newer, rib-tickling jokes.  Our customers are in for many treats this Prime Day with Comicstaan and much more!” 

Dhruv Sheth, Managing Partner, OML, added here, “Our long standing association with Amazon Prime Video continues to grow stronger through successful launches of great new and original content. We are truly proud of the institution we have created in ‘Comicstaan’ that is not just a show that’s different, funny and engaging but, with the second, it has also become an institute where we are able to discover, hone and present new stand-up comedians to Indian audiences. We are very excited about the new season that is even bigger in scale and talent.” 

 

On her association with the series, comedian Neeti Palta said, “I am excited to be a part of the ‘Comicstaan’ family, a unique unscripted digital comedy reality series that is on the hunt for the next big stand-up comedian. It gives me immense pleasure to be mentoring and judging budding comics on a platform where they will be tested on their ability to crack hilariously well-thought out jokes, because Joke Karna Koi Mazaak Nahi!” 

Adgully caught up with Vijay Subramaniam at the launch event to kno more about what to expect from ‘Comicstaan Season 2’ as well as the content strategy for the year ahead. 

How has the response been to ‘Comicstaan’?
We’ve been here as a service for two and a half years; it takes us 18-20 months to put a show together, and launch it. Subsequent seasons take that much time. ‘Inside Edge’ is coming back 2 years after the first season, whereas ‘Comicstaan Season 2’ is back after just a year. 

Globally, the diaspora has loved the series as it connects them back to their roots in some form. All these artists represent the voice of today in the format of their jokes, and the way they are delivered is very relatable. ‘Comicstaan’ definitely has a fan following outside India as well. These audiences love the stand-up specials too. 

Anecdotally, some of these comedians have done US tours and from the feedback that they have got, it shows that people have been leaning into it. 

What are your thoughts on the talent this year?
Last year being the first season, the contestants didn’t know the format. They didn’t know what to expect even though they were good amateur comics, so it became a leveler. They went in there blind and started getting better. This year, people know the format, so they’ve started prepping sooner. You will find in the very first episode that these guys are punching up. Borrowing Neeti’s line, who said it best, “If the first season was a playground, the second season is a competition”. This scene is going to keep getting better and that is great for customers and for comedy. 

Will you be experimenting with the format in Season 2?
We are keeping the format exactly the same as Season 1 because the customers have validated it. One of the things that they loved about the format was that we were giving them the ‘Thali of Comedy’. There was a little bit of improvisation, observational comedy, sketch, etc. Each round introduced them to a new form of comedy, even if they didn’t know the technicalities. 

We’ve made some tweaks to improve the overall viewer experience. We have gone straight into the story and not dwelled too much on the audition process. We find it is more interesting to dwell into each contestant’s journey as they begin competing. Eventually, I’m hoping the audiences will have their own favourites to win.  The clips of people auditioning in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore will be made available separately. However, Episode 1 will start with the contest itself. 

What steps are you taking to cultivate great comic talent?
Let me take a step back and shed light on the philosophy of the judge-mentor relationship as it stands in the format. The purpose of that is to make sure that as a customer, you are seeing the best in comedy talent mentoring the ones we believe have the best potential. Keeping with that spirit, getting Zakir and Neeti just adds to that strength. You have these comics who have gone through that journey, are doing exceptionally good comedy work, and some of them are acting and writing scripts and they are not only going to judge you, which is the easier part, but work with you, mentor you, and help you understand the journey that you are on. Neeti and Zakir have added even more heft to the heavy bench of judges that we have. 

Could you tell us about the future line-up of shows?
This is our first returning season. This is also the year of returning seasons. We will launch ‘Inside Edge Season 2’ in a couple of months. There is a lot of anticipation around it. We have announced the 2nd season of ‘Four More Shots Please!’, ‘Breathe’, and ‘Mirzapur’. We have just wrapped up production on ‘Breathe’. This process will get quicker as we go along. There will be multiple genres that we will experiment with and various themes.

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