The most anticipated comedy festival of Pune was back last weekend with a bang and the audience just couldn’t stop screaming and cheering for their beloved standup comedians. Vivek Desai, the founder of Pune Comedy Fest was thrilled by the response received. Here’s all he had to say in a tete-a-tete with Just Urbane.
Words Amisha Shirgave
I was flabbergasted when I saw nearly seven thousand people at a comedy fest. Yes, I was at the Pune Comedy Fest 2022 and it was a blast! The event was organized at the Orchid Hotel, Pune and it was a rib-tickling two-day event. Now before we get into a conversation with Vivek, let’s get to know him.
Vivek Desai is the founder of the Pune Comedy Festival. Crowned as the youngest Illusionist and Mentalist in the country. Some might call him a magician too. The event was produced by Laughing Lion and Ishan Vaishampayan was the festival director for PCF 4.0. When asked about Ishan’s experience with PCF he said, “This festival was supposed to happen 2.5 years ago. This was scheduled in March 2020. But because of the pandemic we had to cancel it. We had to refund all the ticket amounts, to each and every buyer. So now when we decided to take it up again, we were quite nervous. We just had a month in hand but I am extremely glad that we pulled it off well”.
Like I said earlier, PCF was graced by numerous standup comedians. On Day 1 of the fest Biswa Kalyan Rath, Kenny Sebastian, Samay Raina, Urooj Ashfaq, Azeem Banatwalla, Vaibhav Sethia, Sumaira Shaikh, Shreeja Chaturvedi, Nishant Tanwar, Sahil Shah, Daniel Fernandes, and Angad Singh performed for the audience. And on Day 2 Joel Dsouza, Atul Khatri, Harsh Gujral, Suhani Shah, Sonali Thakker, Sapan Verma, Kajol Srinivasan, Vivek Desai, Joel Dsouza, Kanan Gill, Akash Gupta, and none other than Tanmay Bhat! No wonder the event witnessed around seven thousand people. Suhani Shah and Vivek Desai performed some of their tricks and stunned the live audience too. Well, Pune witnessed one the biggest comedy nights and I am sure PCF is going to have even greater response next year. Until then, let’s have a conversation with the one who brought it all together, Vivek Desai.
Amisha: Firstly, our readers would like to know about your profile. When did you decide to become an Illusionist and mentalist professionally?
Vivek: I learned magic tricks while I was living in the USA. We lived close to Vegas and used to visit the city once a month on weekends. This is where I learned how to do magic tricks. So when I came back to India, I knew a few tricks already. I was 16 back then and, to earn a little extra pocket money I started performing small magic shows at birthday parties. By the time I was 18 or 19 years old, I started getting invitations to do magic shows. People started approaching me for events. That is when I decided to become an Illusionist professionally.
A: What is the major obstacle you face as an Illusionist?
V: People assumed that an Illusionist is a person dressed in a funny costume. I had to break this stigma and it was one of the biggest hurdles I faced. Now over the years, with experience I am able to break through this obstacle as people now know me through my videos or social media. Magicians have to struggle a lot when it comes to their perceived image.
A: Can you highlight some of the tricks you do as an Illusionist? Name some personalities you've stunned with your skills.
V: Some of my popular tricks include unlocking people’s phones, guessing their girlfriends, ex-girlfriends or crushes. But I get the best reactions from the audience for card tricks. I can proudly say that currently, I am one of the best in India when it comes to card tricks. I have received a great response and a lot of appreciation from many celebrities like Alan Walker, Shikhar Dhawan, Late Irrfan Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez and many more.
A: How do you manage situations where you disappoint yourself or the audience?
V: I have been in situations where I have disappointed myself but luckily I recover quickly enough from such situations. When I know that some trick is not going as planned I am immediately able to work it around in a way that the audience does not recognise my mistake. I have never really disappointed the audience. Sometimes when there is a small flounder, I am able to manage it in a way that the audience feels that even the failure was a part of the trick.
A: What was the motive/idea behind Pune Comedy fest? And why Pune specifically?
V: The reason for choosing Pune for this fest was that I have lived in Pune. I have seen the kind of response events like NH 7 received in Pune and I realised that similar kind of a crowd can also be drawn towards comedy. So when people say comedy festival, they mostly assume a comedian doing 20-30 small shows. Which is why I thought why not do an open-air festival, where people can sit, enjoy with food, drinks and have a nice time? I wanted to bring the real festival vibe to Pune.
A: A crowd of 7000 people on the first day of Pune Comic fest that took place after two years. How does it look to you as the founder?
V: We had done many shows before PCF 4.0. But after the pandemic there was an uncertainty about everything. We were not sure if people would turn up or buy tickets as we'd hoped. But we were confident about the show, we had good experience in this matter, we had a strong line up. In the end we are extremely happy with how the event turned out.
A: Numerous standup comedians graced the Pune Comedy Festival 2022. What equation do you share with each one of them?
V: I have a very friendly relationship with Samay. I had met Biswa earlier at the first comedy fest. So with every season I got to know him better. Plus I also know him through other content related work that we do. Same is with Kanan. I was also in touch with Tanmay through other work and I always wanted him to be a part of PCF and I am glad he decided to be a part of the fest. I have a great relationship with Atul Khatri. He is one of the nicest artists I have known. Even during PCF 4.0 he cut down his own time by a good 5-6 minutes so that the artists performing after him don't lose out on their time. This was probably one of the greatest gestures any artist has shown across all editions of PCF.
A: What is your mantra to keep going?
V: I keep checking my bank account!
Well, that was Vivek Desai. Here’s manifesting the success of PCF 5.0.