The concept of Amazon Prime Video’s new comedy reality show, LOL: Hasse Toh Phasse, is simple. Ten contestants, made up of stand-up comics, comedic actors and content creators are stuck in a house together for 6 hours. The task? They have to make each other laugh but they can’t laugh themselves. Last person standing gets Rs 25 lakh. Actors Arshad Warsi and Boman Irani are the judges.
For some reason the ‘humour’ they seem to use consists of crass gags, physical comedy and buffoonery that makes slipping on a banana peel look like high art. The result is a comedy show that plays out more like a psychological experiment gone wrong.
There’s something disturbing about watching talented artists you respect reduced to wearing ridiculous get ups and silly props. I found the trailer uncomfortable but the series is much worse. I’m sure it sounded like a promising concept on paper – blending together reality TV formats with comedy – but what you end up getting is the unfortunate love child of Big Boss and Comedy Nights With Kapil that nobody wanted.
It was admittedly interesting to see different schools of funny coming together. From the Comedy Nights brand there’s Sunil Grover and Gaurav Gehra. There’s stand-up comics such as Aakash Gupta and Aditi Mittal as well as digital creators such as Ankita Shrivastav, Mallika Dua and Kusha Kapila. But that intrigue lasts for about 3-minutes before the truly tragic experience of the show takes over.
Early on hosts Arshad and Boman announce that each person will take turns in getting the others to crack up, but the series is devoid of any sort of real structure. What we get is 10 contestants wearing false teeth, bad wigs and crazy glasses randomly walking into each other for hours in some sort of comedy cocktail party from hell. At one point someone starts doing a plank. Here are some of the lowest points of the show.
•Stand-up comic Aditi Mittal appears in a cat costume and crawls around on all fours for several (very long) minutes. It’s deeply unsettling. I hope she got paid a truckload for this.
•A bra-wearing Gaurav Gera engages in conversation with Suresh Menon and Sunil Grover (both wearing wigs). That is until Suresh takes said bra, and proceeds to wear it as a mask.
•Aadar Mallik, playing some sort of frustrated acting coach character, gets everyone to scream-sing Hamlet’s ‘to be or not to be’ speech while Suresh Menon watches on while eating a banana.
•Kusha Kapila does a naagin dance before lapping up milk from a jug like a puppy.
•At one point all 10 of them start screeching at each other. No context, not reason… just screeching.
The unique and truly baffling experience of this series is best described in a monologue by Cyrus Broacha (who maintains a rightfully concerned look of ‘what the hell did I get myself into?’ for much of the series). During the first episode he picks up a fake phone and says “Mummy I want to come home. I’ve lost my entire reputation in this house. It’s a bunch of complete idiots. They crack jokes that are not funny. One guy is playing with his hair.” The core concept of LOL: Hasse Toh Phasse is to get comedians to not laugh. For some reason, they ensured the audience never does either.