Astana’s Comedians Have New Platform for Stand-Up Performances

ASTANA – Humour and raw fish rolls are on the menu every two weeks when the Astana stand-up show entertains the audience. The latest live performance, on March 28, was heldat the Daikon sushi bar on the right bank of the Ishim River.


Approximately 60 people showed up to watch the five to ten-minute monologues, many delivered by student performers on stage for the first time. The jokes ranged from relationship misunderstandings and self-criticism of Kazakh national qualities to poking fun at local advertisement techniques.

Organised by Dias Zhumadilov, a fifth-year student at Astana Medical University, the stand-up show attracts mainly a young crowd of students and professionals and the occasional high schooler.

Born in Semey and raised in Almaty, 23-year-old Zhumadilov said that despite his chosen profession, he has always aimed to develop his creativity. His interests range from politics and economics to more down-to-earth activities such as watching a good movie, having some homemade food or swimming in the pool.

Zhumadilov has been trying to develop his entrepreneurial skills since fifth grade in pursuit of financial independence. Starting from sales of A3 paper in art class, he smoothly went the way of speculative trading.

“At 19-20, I began to study the production of various small items and tried selling them. But I soon realised that large profits require large-scale production, for which I had no resources, neither material nor human,” he said.

In his quest for financial gain, the stand-up show was a minor one of ten other projects Zhumadilov started to realise.

“In time the financial attractiveness of it has disappeared, but I became more involved in it when I realised this was a field for creative self-realisation,” he explained. “I’m not a fan of these shows on TV. I must confess I found out about the stand-up genre in late August and we had our first event in September. It is more interesting that KVN, which as they say ‘is not the same as it used to be.’ Although stand-up comedy is humorous in my opinion, it is much more versatile and the thoughts of the performer are deeper. It is rather satirical, ironic and often very sarcastic.”

He shared his story and plans for the future in an interview with this reporter.

Have you ever had experience in organising events before?

I had a little experience in the organisation of stand-up. For a whole year prior to it I organised small student parties. We had workshops in preparing interesting dishes such as maqluba, sushi rolls and tiramisu. We played board and video games. The main goal was to meet new people and to strengthen ties with friends. Sometimes we often see good people, but due to the fact that they do not ride the same bus home or are enrolled in a parallel class, we cannot communicate with them closely, although we want to. I decided that it is necessary to create such circumstances. I have organised almost 30 events per year, including two trips to Burabai with a big, friendly company.

Has anything changed between the first stand-up show and the tenth?

Changed? Yes, everything changed. Venues changed from the informal Kotokafe and Nekafe to Rivas Café and Art Café. We then held the event in a karaoke club, but soon we were invited to Daikon sushi bar where we currently operate. The participants also changed. Anyone can take part in the event, but there is always a core group. I’m happy with my small team with whom we are working on new material, rehearsing jokes. There are also changes in the audience, in their age as well as liveliness. Photographers and assistants have hanged, but some things have remained the same, which are a packed hall and myself as the host. This is not the limit of the metamorphosis; I hope that soon we will grow even more.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans for the future are very diverse. As for the stand-up show, we plan to find sponsors. We want to raise the level of the quality of the events. We want to reach a bigger audience. We want to hit the big screen. And finally, we want to fully institute the stand-up genre just as KVN was once established. There are other ideas, but I won’t say anything about them yet.

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