The new Amazon Prime show LOL Hasse Toh Phassee is an experimental comedy show where ten comedians are locked inside a house for six hours and have to entertain each other. However, there is a catch, they cannot laugh or even smile. The comedian who can make it 6 hours without laughing takes home a whopping rupees 25 lakh.
LOL: Hassee Toh Phassee has been remade from the Australian show Last One Laughing which is hosted by Hollywood star Rebel Wilson and features 10 seasoned Australian comedians. The show has also been remade into German, with Michael Bully Herbig as host.
In the Indian version, we see Arshad Warsi and Boman Irani as hosts and judges, who keep a keen eye on all the contestants. The camaraderie of the actors, added with the Munnabhai connect, has a special effect on the audience as they command our attention from the get go.
They explain the rules of the game. A comedian has to ensure that they don’t laugh or smile. The first time they break, they get a yellow card and the second time they are eliminated. They also have to actively keep participating in the game. If a contestant is “too passive," they can get a yellow card.
The group of comedians chosen are diverse. We have veterans like Cyrus Broacha, Suresh Menon, Gaurav Gera, we have a TV personality in the form of Sunil Grover. There are stand-up comics like Aditi Mittal, Aakash Gupta and Aadar Malik. From the internet-favourite group, we get Mallika Dua, Kusha Kapila and Ankita Shrivastava.
Even when these seasoned comedians get together and do their best, it takes almost three episodes for the awkwardness of it all to lessen. For the first couple of hours, most comedians are stiff and play on the defensive. Once they get acclimated to the game, the comedy starts getting better.
To be fair, LOL Hasse Toh Phassee is not a show for a Hanna Gadsby, Dave Chappell, Daniel Sloss or even a Biswa Kalyan Rath level of comedy. Every comedian in this show has to engage in slapstick. This is because there is no structure inside the house. Everyone is doing their thing, and if another comic does not do something as extravagant as the next person, they will be drowned out. Hence expect a lot of Naagin dances and penis jokes. Don’t expect intellectual stimulation.
There are also a few slightly transphobic and sexist jokes that get brushed below the carpet. In their gags, a lot of comedians try to portray women and it gets uncomfortable to watch.
However, as a whole the show isn’t a boring or even an unfunny one. Even when comedians like Cyrus Broacha, Ankita Shrivastava and Aakash Gupta cannot adapt enough to put on memorable performances, the others make up for it.
Gaurav Gera, especially, carries the entire show on his back. Despite performing only slapstick, he stands out due to his consistency. Sunil Grover, too, brings in a lot of charm to his act. Kusha Kapila and Mallika Dua are funny too, but we have seen them doing the same thing in their Instagram videos. Aditi Mittal and Suresh Menon start with a bang but get eliminated soon.
LOL Hasse Toh Phassee is a good three hour distraction from the intense trauma of the Covid-19 crisis right now. The comedians are also locked inside a house for a long time, which makes it easier for us to relate with them.