The place of meeting – Comedy Club

12/03/2006 Artur TOROSYAN

Perhaps it won’t be wrong to say that the Comedy Club is the most popular entertainment venue in Moscow. On Saturdays in the area of the famous “Atrium” mall located in downtown Moscow the “KVN” team of “New Armenians” – Comedy Club project works, where the progressive youth of Moscow, showmen, businessmen, journalists, movie actors, filmmakers gather. The list includes such celebrities as Soso Pavliashvili, Tigran Peosayan, Andrey Panin, Alexander Tsekalo, Abraham Russo, “Ivanushki International”, Xenia Sobchak, Glyukoza, Sergey Zverev, “Slivki”, Alexander Strijenov… There is humor and music in Comedy Club, where the daily problems of Moscow are being strongly satirized and humored. Despite the fact that the entrance fee is $50 the Club is always crowded.

The producer of the Comedy Club is Artur Janibekyan. We have managed to speak with the most outstanding representatives of the project, the all-time favorite Garik Martirosyan and Tash.

When speaking about their super popular project Garik, who frequently writes scenarios, said that the project is from the “stand up show” genre, which is very popular in America and Europe. Humorists of different styles visit clubs and perform. Very often those performances are improvisations. Unlike “KVN” , where it takes months to prepare for a show, in the Comedy Club, the humorist or the celebrity might just stand on the stage for 15 minutes and do what he/she wants to do. They just need to make sure that what they do is funny and entertaining. They might just sing or joke. “This kind of humor is closer to street humor. The difference is that on the stage we joke about anything we want, even about drugs.”
Tash tells that after he saw a similar show “Comedy Store” in Los Angeles he told his friends and they decided to organize one in Moscow.

The first show of the Comedy Club took place in September 2003. “On that day only 7 people visited us, the next day – 17. Thus the number of visitors started to drastically increase. Now in “Atrium” mall, where we rent a hall, we can host over 1000 visitors. The Comedy Club has its branches in Saint Petersburg, Saratov, Ijevsk. Soon Comedy Clubs will be opened in Krasnodar and Rostov. All these cities are of course smaller than Moscow but look like the one in Moscow,” says Garik, the favorite of Moscow youth.
The audience of Comedy Club is young and has an above average income as well as a European mentality. Comedy Club is visited by young people, 15-30, from big cities. These are young people with higher education, who for example, don’t understand the humor of Yevgeni Petrosyan and want something new. Garik says that unlike Petrosyan’s old and soft anecdotes the jokes of the Comedy Club are full of extremity, “Our jokes are more drastic and sometimes even aggressive. Some people don’t like our style. The show business representatives of Russia often get offended and leave the performance. That’s what Trakhtenberg, Olga Kabo and Katya Lel did. Our mission is not to be beloved by everybody.” Yes, in the Comedy Club humor is really aggressive and extreme, full of Moscow slang and curse words.

Both Tash and Garik think that it’s impossible to have such a club in Yerevan. “In Armenia people would leave the hall at the beginning of the show. Imagine actor Pavel Volya on the stage and greeting the audience in the following way – “Hello farters”. What do you think would happen? He would probably get shot.”

On TNT TV channel of Moscow they show certain parts of the Saturday show. Soon the Armenian audience will be able to watch the Comedy Show on H2 TV channel. “We have been in Moscow so long that even if we wanted we wouldn’t be able to host our show in Yerevan. There are a lot of things in Armenia that we don’t know. Besides there are very interesting humorists, who have great projects in Armenia, e.g. Hayko and Mko. Here in Moscow we can do more for Armenian PR. Having lived in Moscow for over ten years makes us feel like citizens of Moscow. We love Moscow but we don’t stay in Moscow for too long either. We always take trips to Ukraine, Kazakhstan, etc,” says Tash.

Garik has an opposite opinion, “Of course, I feel great here but I would never consider myself a citizen of Moscow. I’m a native resident of Yerevan, was born there and lived for 25 years. We change just like Yerevan and the new generation. I don’t know it’s good or bad. Yerevan is not 100% our city as it used to be 10 years ago. There are a lot of people we don’t know – new oligarchs, new actors or singers, who we never heard of before. We do a great job of keeping the Armenian image alive in Russia. If you remember, prior to “KVN” Armenians were considered a group of people that got down from mountains. It’s not like that now. I think it’s better to admire our humor than criminality.”

The Comedy Club is the favorite place for progressive young people of Moscow, representatives of show business, where they gather to be isolated from Moscow’s heavy traffic and daily problems. For example, the Armenians joke that there are more Armenians in the world than Chinese. This information is not publicized so that other nations don’t panic.

“Yes. In Russia there are many talented Armenians – painters, filmmakers, businessmen…”, says Garik.