Comedy Club Russia is a new and popular standup comedy show in Russia, and marks a much more aggressive, edgy and (frankly) funny approach to comedy that the evergreen KVN (Club of the Merry and Inventive) that was founded in 1961.
Comedy Club have an anarchic style, similar to that favoured by the US comedy show Saturday Night Live, and mix ‘live’ on stage comedy sketches that are filmed in a Moscow club with pre-filmed skits. Like SNL, they also have sections that take a satirical view of the week’s news.
An edited version of the weekly show is broadcast on Russian TV channel NTV on Friday nights. The Club have just announced that a new season of Comedy TV will begin in August 2010.
The Russian Comedy Club was formed in 2003 by Armenian producer Artur Djanibekyan, and held its first performance at a club in September 2003. According to Djanibekyan, on the first night, only 7 people saw the show, but word of mouth soon spread, and the next show attracted an audience of 17. The show is now held in Moscow’s Atrium mall where audiences reach 1,000 per night, and are happy to pay high ($50+) entrance fees.
The Comedy Club has proved a great success with Russian TV audiences as well as Russian comedians, and its popularity has led to the creation of branches of Comedy Club Russia across the country. There are now clubs in St Petersburg, Rostov, Krasnodar, Saratov and Ivejsk, each with their own particular style. Comedy Club has also gone international, and there are now Comedy Club Ukraine and Comedy Club Belarus branches.
The show’s star is comedian Garik Martirosyan, an Armenian comedian who, as well as acting as Comedy Club host, co-produces the show with Djanibekyan. Martirosyan has also achieved wider fame in Russia, and hosted the first seasons of Minuta Slavy, which is Russia’s answer to America’s Got Talent.
Other stars of Comedy Club Russia include Pavel Volya, Aleksander Ravva and Timur Batrudinov. Famous guests on the show have included Russian pop duo t.A.T.u.
In 2008, Comedy Club produced its first full length feature film – The Best Movie – which lampoons many of Russia’s most famous films of past and present. Here’s a video clip from the film: