Laughs from Luxembourg

Published: 02 July, 2019 07:04 IST | Shunashir Sen |

Catch two Indians living in a tiny European nation perform a stand-up routine that provides an outsider's perspective to life in Luxembourg

Deepu Dileepan (left) and Sundeep Bhardwaj
Deepu Dileepan (left) and Sundeep Bhardwaj

Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Western Europe. Cradled between France, Germany and Belgium, it is spread over a mere 2,586 sq km and has a population of only about six lakh. And you might raise an eyebrow if someone tells you that two of those people are Indians who are forging a fast-rising career in stand-up comedy. But that's exactly who Deepu Dileepan and Sundeep Bhardwaj are —desis who perform comedy under the banner of Brown Guys, Grey Skies, with a show slated in the city this weekend.

The genesis of their collaboration lies in an open mic event held a little under three years ago. That's where the duo first met. Dileepan had only recently shifted to the country on work, still trying to find his feet in an alien land. But Bhardwaj was already well settled in Luxembourg, having left a career in banking to concentrate on comedy full-time. The two got talking and realised that there are certain aspects of their routine that only Indians will get. So they decided to join forces and turn the tables, building a skit that provides an outsider perspective of what life in Luxembourg is like.

This life is a highly multi-cultural one, given the fact that half the population consists of foreigners. "The country has four different official languages — English, German, French and Luxembourgish — and you'll bump into people from three or four different nationalities on any given day," Dileepan says, adding, "If a joke lands well in Luxembourg, chances are that it will do well in pretty much any other part of the world."

Dileepan performs a stand-up routine
Dileepan performs a stand-up routine

He also says that the thematic subjects they explore in their sets range from love and religion to social commentary. There is thus one section where Dileepan talks about how Luxembourg is really different from Chennai, where he hails from, saying, "It's so cold and so dampening here, and that's just the people." And then there's the part where Bhardwaj recounts how, whenever people talk about having chicken tikka at a restaurant, they give him a knowing nod.

But despite their inherent similarities — born mainly out of the fact that they are NRIs living in the same country — the reason they complement each other well is that they have points of divergence, too. "I came to the country only two years ago, so I'm still kind of the new kid on the block. But Sundeep's been here for over 15 years, and is married with a kid, while I'm still single and don't have any plans of marrying just yet," Dileepan tells us.

He adds that while he's been disconnected from the Indian comedy circuit over the past two and a half years, the situation has evolved from being the fledgling scene it was when he'd first started out about five years ago. People were following a Western model earlier. But there has gradually been a shift towards adopting a more Indian mindset, and a fine balance needs to be struck between the two. "As long as you aren't pandering too much to the audience and are comfortable with what you're saying, things should be fine," he says.

Their show in Mumbai, he adds, is one that they have performed earlier, on platforms as prestigious as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August last year, the largest arts festival in the world. And he also says that he wouldn't like to ascribe any role that a comedian should play in society. Dileepan feels, "It really depends on the kind of comedy you do. If somebody does a lot of political stuff, that's one thing. But for others, it might just be as simple as eliciting a laugh. It's not a profession where you're a teacher or a doctor. You're simply an artiste, that's all."

On: July 6, 9.15 pm
At: The Cuckoo Club, St Andrews Road, Bandra West.
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Entry: Rs 399

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