For a stand-up comedian, Rainer Hersch sounds very serious. It’s hard to fathom how can such a serious person juxtapose classical music and stand-up comedy to enthrall audiences. But he does this with a great amount of finesse, so much so that his show All Classical Music Explained has been aired on the BBC Radio and has been performed at umpteen festivals, including the prestigious Edinburgh Festival. Now for the first time Hersch will give Mumbaiites a taste of his comedy and answer common questions such as ‘why is organ music so boring?; how can one play a musical instrument without practising?; what do conductors actually do?’ that are on top of anyone’s mind who is not a classical music aficionado.
Tell him that classical music and stand-up comedy are as different as chalk and cheese and he says, “I spent several years juggling my day job as a classical musician with moonlighting in the evenings as a stand-up comedian. After some time, I realised that anything that people can’t understand lends itself to comedy. I often wondered that when they attend a classical music concert and applaud a performance, do they understand anything at all? That got me thinking and I decided to merge the two and answer simple questions that are on everyone’s minds.”
His love for comedy and classical music began almost simultaneously. As a schoolboy he developed a keen interest in Monty Python, a British surreal comedy group. He got permission to record their TV shows on the school’s clunky video machine and would show them to his friends the following day during lunch break.
By the age of 12 he had already taken grades in the clarinet but was quickly drawn to the piano. This led to an obsession with piano music. Later, he started working as a touring manager of various musical organisations. But he was fascinated with comedy and started moonlighting as a stand-up comedian on the London cabaret circuit. Short, unpaid slots in small clubs led to longer, paid appearances which in turn gradually developed into a parallel career.
Hersch slowly realised that this was his true vocation and in 1992 he apprehensively gave up his last job to enter the uncertain world of professional comedy.
Mumbaiites have enough reason to rejoice as last time he did a spoof of the title track of India’s longest-running soap, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, and Nimbuda Nimbuda, the chartbuster from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.
Ask Hersch what does he have in store this time and he replies, “Hopefully, I will be able to come up with something in the next 10 days.
But get prepared for some heavy-duty Bollywood dancing.”
Apart from that he will also perform as part of Comedy Store’s Best In Stand Up Comedy with Indian comics Gursimran Khamba, Daniel Fernandes, Karunesh Talwar, Nishant Tanwar and Neville Shah.
Hersch says, “Along with the Indian comics, I will talk about impressions that India has left on me such as the ‘interesting’ way in which taxi drivers ply their vehicles on Mumbai’s roads, how travelling in a bus here is completely different as compared to in England, etc.”
When: October 11, 12, 13, 8:30 pm onwards
Where: Blue Frog, Zeba Centre, Mathuradas Mill compund, Lower Parel
Call: 6158 6158 or log on bookmyshow.com