A one-night stand with (the cast of) Freddy

 


Freddy is back! A one-night stand-up comedy show at the Main Ballroom, Temple Trees, on the 7th of July at 7.00pm will be featuring Ifaz Bin Jameel, Daminda Wijayaratne, Dino Corera, Gehan Blok and introducing, for the first time, Adin Mathitharan. 

The cast and crew of Freddy, in association with the Royal College Union, are putting the ‘fun’ in funds to be raised for the Trail Sri Lanka Karapitiya Cancer Hospital’s new children’s ward.  

We met up with the cast and writer/ director Feroze Kamardeen for a quick chat on what to expect at the show and to get to know the brilliant cast behind Freddy a little better. Here’s what they had to say:

 

Ifaz Bin Jameel

What subject matter are you basing your routine on for Saturday’s show?

It’s a continuation of what happened last year. I base all my content on the Sri Lankan Muslim community. It’s closer to home because I myself am a Muslim. I base my content on the peculiarities of the community. But in the process, while we make fun of general things and idiosyncrasies, we also try and look at issues that the community maybe facing but aren’t really addressed. At the end of the day, there is an underlying social message that brings about good for us as a community in the context of a larger Sri Lankan society. 

 

How did you get into stand-up comedy?

Quite by accident. I’ve been involved in theatre for a long time. Feroze and I have been doing plays from the time we were in school. I had about an absence of about 10-12 years off stage and from about a year before last, Feroze was doing the first Freddy so I got involved in the production. I didn’t get involved in the acting or anything. In 2017, when Feroze was talking about doing a show that was only stand-up, I had stuff written up and some ideas.

So I met Feroze for a coffee one day and I told him that I had some material that he could use and gave it to him, and he said, “well since you haven’t been on stage for over 10 years, why don’t you do it yourself?” and so that’s what happened.

Of course, Feroze took that content and rewrote it because he’s obviously the better writer. We shared ideas and because we both are from the Muslim community it was easier for us to come up with ideas for it.  


How would you describe your style of stand-up comedy?

The way I speak, I try to keep it as real and as honest as possible so that it comes out as myself rather than trying to build on a character or something like that. So what you would see on stage is partly me as myself and certain parts that I play in the process are the different roles that I try to bring to life. But in terms of a style, I don’t know. It is not influenced by anything I’ve seen. It was very difficult. The beginning of last year when I first starting doing this, I hadn’t been on stage in a long time. So when I came into it, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, or what I was supposed to be or what style it should be, or anything. And to be very honest, it was awful. We have some of the older clips and it was very stiff. But you finally find your space on stage and you find your style and it kind of settles. So to simply put it, it’s a culmination of all my experiences and trying to tell the story.  


What has been your most memorable experience as a stand-up comedian?

If I were to talk about a highlight, it was coming back on stage. For me, the definition of a stage would be a proper theatre, and for us, that would be the Lionel Wendt. We grew up there. We did plays there from the time we were teens. For me it was the laps of 12 years, coming back, getting on the Lionel Wendt stage and that first night when the curtains went up and I came on stage. That was a culmination of my last 30 or so years in theatre. 


If you could describe yourself in a one-liner, what would it be?

 Just one of the fellows. 

 

Daminda Wijayaratne

What subject matter are you basing your routine on for Saturday’s show?

It’s about how I see things happening in Colombo and it’s about how I constantly try to reconcile between why things that happen in my village also happen in Colombo. It’s a lot about Sri Lankan media. We finally got a new TV in the village! It comes with a sort of a raw perspective on things. It’s interesting because it’s really the naked truth of it. I also speak about the issues we’ve had with social media and how people jump to conclusions. Additionally, it’s a humour oriented piece in the sense that it’s all jokes about my village which delves into how my village functions. 


How did you get into stand-up comedy?

Initially, when we started out doing Freddy, it was only Gehan and Dominic who had stand-up routines. I wasn’t doing stand-up at that time. Feroze gave me his card at the end of the first show and said “be ready to do stand-up next year”. That’s how I got into it. It was essentially through Freddy. Feroze helped us right throughout, getting our confidence up. 


How would you describe your style of stand-up comedy?

It’s innocent and has a raw feel to it. I use a lot of ‘Singlish’.


What has been your most memorable experience as a stand-up comedian?

I’ve performed as a stand-up comedian several times. Out of that, I think it’s difficult to pick out one such experience, but I would say it’s really getting out there and doing it. To be able to have that command over 600 people, and hopefully over 2500 people soon, and for them to be listening to you and to be at the same wavelength as you in itself is an amazing experience. It’s a different experience every time. 


If you could describe yourself in a one-liner, what would it be?

Village boy in Colombo.


Adin Mathitharan

 

 

What subject matter are you basing your routine on for Saturday’s show?

My content is from the point of view of a Tamil person. Growing up in Jaffna, then moving to Batticaloa during the war and experiencing it, my personal beliefs on what I feel about the war and my difference of opinion of how we should have addressed the issue. 


How did you get into stand up comedy?

I’ve been in Tamil theatre for quite some time. When I was growing up in Batticaloa I was in Tamil theatre. I studied at Leighton Park International School. I didn’t know a single word of English when I came to Colombo so I had to learn everything from there. It was when I was in Leighton Park that I realised that I was good with my presentations and acting. While studying I started acting in church. I met Feroze through a friend and went through the whole process of what it is like to be a part of a stand-up crew. I’m still new to this and this is my first performance. I think I have a long way to go compared to the rest of the crew. I believe it’s a journey once again. 


How would you describe your style of stand up comedy?

It’s dark… like me.

What has been your most memorable experience as a stand-up comedian?

This is my first performance!

If you could describe yourself in a one-liner, what would it be?

I’m just an innocent Tamil guy.


Gehan Blok

 

 

What subject matter are you basing your routine on for Saturday’s show?

I start off with schools. I talk about politics and cricket. I’m touching upon things close to my heart. I’m a huge cricket fan and very interested in politics as well. 

How did you get into stand-up comedy?

Gehan: In 2016, Feroze wanted to do a new sketch show which was Freddy. He got us to do a small 5 to 6 minute routine. First off, we never thought it would blow up this much. I remember during the first show, telling Dominique that I’m just going to burn through and I don’t think they are going to laugh. But as soon as I made that first joke, the reaction I got! I’ve never got performing anything else, not even in my 10 year career as an actor. When I cracked that first Thomian joke and everyone laughed, I got an adrenaline rush and I didn’t know what to do so started jumping up on stage. So that’s where we started, with a small piece on schools, mainly about St. Peter’s because that’s where I went. So far, so good. 


How would you describe your style of stand-up comedy?

This show has an adults-only tag because of me. I use a four letter word quite a bit. My style is very active, very much like Kevin Hart. There’s a lot of running around and it’s very in your face.  

What has been your most memorable experience as a stand-up comedian?

The first performance. Like I said, I remember telling Dominique that’ll I’ll just burn through and that no one’s going to laugh. That first performance which was originally 6 minutes, after laughs, went on for 12 minutes. That was probably my most memorable experience because I was so nervous! The feedback we got was unreal.   

If you could describe yourself in a one-liner, what would it be?

I know when to be naughty, but I know when to be nice.

 

Dino Corera

What subject matter are you basing your routine on for Saturday’s show?

My content is focused a lot on politics and governance and how ignorant we truly are. I also talk about how curbing our love for alcohol is pointless from an administrative point of view.


How did you get into stand-up comedy?

I once stood up and told a joke. Just kidding! During our first Freddy performance which was originally a sketch show, Feroze asked those of us interested in trying out stand up to write a small routine. As nervous as we were to take on something we'd never done before, I'm thankful I was able to try my hand at it and that the audience really enjoyed it.


How would you describe your style of stand-up comedy?

Current affairs dipped in zesty sarcasm with a lot said unsaid.

 

What has been your most memorable experience as a stand-up comedian?

Remembering my own jokes. Again, sarcasm! Playing to a full house at the Lionel Wendt is always a memorable experience. But I think the most memorable thing about being a stand-up comedian is when people walk up to you and say they enjoyed your performance in public places.


If you could describe yourself in a one-liner, what would it be?

Carefully written, fact-checked essay in the streets, the unmoderated comments section in the sheets.


Feroze further elaborated on the routines as some of them had important, underlying social messages aside from being hilariously entertaining.

“It’s very pertinent to know that both of us (Ifaz and Feroze) see his routine strangely as us reaching out to other communities to try and build a bridge because Muslims have been demonized for the last couple of years. There is also a tendency to isolate yourself when you’re cornered.

When someone stands up and makes fun of himself and you all laugh, you all say it’s okay to laugh, because we’re like you.” (This was in reference to Ifaz’s routine)
“Our thinking is very 2018 not 1998. We are very pro-equality. We believe everyone deserves equal rights. While we believe in that, we also make jokes. In stand up nothing and no one is off the table, with the exception of religious leaders and religious sentiments, we are very conscious about the fact that we live in a multicultural society, we are very respectful towards that. That aside, everything to us is fair game. So politicians, schools, universities, high societies, everybody is fair game. Every joke or performance we do has a hidden message.”


Not many people realise just how challenging stand-up comedy can be: 

 It’s one of the toughest performance arts. In a play, you have an entire support system on stage, unless it is a one man play. Even if it’s a one man play, you’d still have a support system because you’d have props, you’d have a setting, and you’d have scene changes. In a normal play, you’d have other actors who can bail you out or throw you a lifeline. Not only do they come in handy when you forget something, but when you’re performing slightly low, if you’re a good cast, other cast members will find a way to uplift you as well. In stand up, all that is removed. No props, no scene changes, no support crew. In terms of your performance, when you’re down, you’re down. It’s not like anyone can walk up to them and tell them to pick it up- they can’t. And worse- if they forget where they are. That stage can feel like a prison. Anyone who has experienced that will tell you that blanking out is the scariest thing on the planet because you just don’t know where you are in the script and you just keep getting lost and sometimes you forget what you just said as well. 


The cast of Freddy seemed spirited and upon interviewing them, seemed very proud of their work. We, at Life, wish the cast of Freddy the best of luck for their show!

 


Photographs by: Waruna 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Suhashana Wijayaratna

Suhashana Wijayaratna is a passionate feminist and a dark-lip enthusiast who enjoys long naps in bed and roasting her sister. Among many other things too sinister to mention, she is a drummer, smarty pants and nuisance. She’s well-known for her artistic flair and creative pizazz, laced with an edginess so slick it makes ice jealous.

0 Comments

Post your comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *