A Russian revolution

Bringing stand-up to Moscow

British comic Ian Stone is taking part in a new venture to try to launch stand-up comedy in Russia.

The circuit veteran is appearing alongside a handful of amateur Russian acts in a five-day festival in Moscow’s Club na Brestskoi.

Though Russia has a strong history of clowning and satire, it has no tradition of stand-up as Britain or America knows it.

So magazine Afisha magazine is trying to launch the genre, with a line-up that includes a sex therapist, two actresses, a TV host and a poet.

Stone, who has practiced his act with the aid of a translator, told the Moscow Times: "We've done a few test runs for some people, and they seemed to think it was funny, even in translation."

Festival organiser Yelena Kovalskaya addedd: "We were sitting around a year ago asking ourselves, 'What's missing in Moscow that would make people happy?’ We finally settled on stand-up comedy.

"People want to listen to someone who talks to them like real people. What we have on television now are comedians that TV producers select and make into stars. There's no real connection between the performers and the audience."

But Stone warned the aspiring Russian stand-ups that the ability to interact with audiences was not easy to master. "It's scary," he said. "Things can go horribly wrong for anyone at any time. Even if you've been doing this for 13 years like I have."

>> The full Moscow Times article

Published: 25 Nov 2004

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