Funnier, quirkier than your average comedy troupe

Published: June 16, 2010

Ovais Mushtaq (left) and Jawad Rana (right) act out a scene of two women fighting over a man. PHOTO: MF RAZA

ISLAMABAD: For a comedy troupe to keep an audience laughing for two hours without resorting to sexist, racist or profane humour is probably no mean feat. To do so without any scripts, rehearsals, fancy props or costumes probably requires near geniuses in the group. With their quick wit, humour and banter, that is exactly what improv artists Ovais Mushtaq and Jawad Rana of the Party Quirks offered to their audience this Saturday at Planet X auditorium in Islamabad.

The Party Quirks is an improv comedy troupe based in Islamabad that has been entertaining audiences around the country for the last four years.

The evening commenced with a guest act by Amy. Though reasonably high on the laughs, some of the jokes of her stand-up routine could have packed a better punch with a more spontaneous delivery.

Then came the main act, which fashioned itself along the lines of “Whose Line is it Anway” and kick-started with “Sound Effects” fittingly capitalising Ovais’ strong miming abilities and Jawad’s uncanny ability to breathe life into the non-existent engine of an imaginary vehicle or the muffled tone of a mobile phone ringing from a patient’s insides after a botched surgery by Ovais’ loony doc.

Just as hilarious was the round where they were given completely random lines to incorporate into a scenario- in this case a suspecting wife confronting her neighbour over having an affair with her husband. What followed was a consistently entertaining, fast moving battle of quick wits and hilarious physical comedy between the duo invariably funnier than sitcom performers working with a rehearsed script.

No less entertaining was the “Props Round” where random props provided cues for hilarious scenarios and some good hearty laughter. From coy to rapturous to hilarious, the duo of Ovais and Jawad shared great chemistry, complimenting each other with a slick fluidity that is easy to take for granted. Sure there were a couple of slip ups, as there are bound to be in an entirely ad libbed act, but they were covered quickly and made the whole act all the more natural and believable.

The gang scores extra points for not resorting to gross-out humour or unmotivated profanity for cheap and easy laughs (even when portraying an elephant in labour!). They showed enough creativity and daring on the stage to send everyone home having laughed solidly for a good portion of the evening. My only gripe would be the lack of at least one more performer to kick up the hilarity a notch further.

Lest anyone takes their humour as unduly frivolous, the Quirks official website (www.thepartyquirks.com) outlines their experience in having provided training services and workshops to multinationals and educational institutions using improvisation to institute team building, communication and improve employee satisfaction.

Moreover an entry in their blog poignantly extols the importance of comedy to today’s Pakistan where despite “security concerns and financial downturn” there is a strong need to “get together and share a laugh”. Honestly with the kind of easy, breezy world the Party Quirks take you to, who can disagree?

Published in the Express Tribune, June 16th, 2010.

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