by Sanjay Vattamreddy
As performers, Sanjay Vattamreddy, Rudy Arora, and Sriyansh Shah were initially devastated by the circumstances resulting from the pandemic. The Standup Comedy, and Speech and Debate performances they had worked on for so long all got postponed or canceled.
At the same time, the teens were disappointed to learn that their grandparents were struggling because of the limited social interaction and entertainment options available to them. When Sanjay’s grandfather, unfortunately, passed away due to COVID, he regretted that he was unable to perform his standup comedy routine in front of him. This led him to come up with a unique idea.
Fueled by their passion for making others laugh and public speaking, Sanjay, Rudy, and Sriyansh set up comedy performances at Victoria Gardens of Frisco. For their first show, they had no idea what to expect. Sanjay prepared as many jokes as possible, but they were left with much remaining time. Then Sriyansh and Rudy had the brilliant idea to converse with the crowd and open a discussion about their lives. This simple conversation was met with much enthusiasm from the crowd and connected them in a way they never imagined. The pandemic truly isolated this group of people, and this conversation lit up their faces by providing a form of humanizing contact that they lacked for so long. They realized the impact of this idea and knew they had to keep it in the show by the end.
After their first performance, the teens realized that they were onto something. They founded L.O.L (Love of Laughter) to reach more people, a youth-led organization that bridges the gap between generations by organizing artistic performances at retirement communities and nursing homes, Sanjay as acting president and Rudy and Sriyansh and Co Vice Presidents. “It started with just the three of us cold calling nursing homes and asking them if we could perform for them. It sort of organically grew from there,” said Sriyansh. Once word got out about what they were doing, many of the teens’ artistic peers reached out to them, asking for an opportunity to perform. “Once it got to the point that we had dozens of performers reaching out to us, we thought it would be a good idea to expand beyond standup comedy,” proclaimed Rudy. The teens grew the organization by adding singers, guitar players, public speakers, and piano players to their team of performers.
L.O.L has two primary goals. On the one hand, the organization helps bridge the gap between generations by spreading laughter and joy at retirement communities and nursing homes. Moreover, it simultaneously helps its volunteer performers, composed entirely of aspiring teen artists, test new content and gain confidence by performing in front of non-judgemental audiences. “During the peak of Covid, performing at L.O.L events helped me continue practicing my standup comedy skills even though a lot of my other performances got postponed. I received great feedback that I used to tweak some aspects of my routine before delivering it at a professional show. It allowed me to connect with an older generation that I couldn’t with my grandfather.” said Sanjay.
A typical performance features 3-4 performers and lasts for about an hour. “At our last performance, we started performing a 20-minute standup comedy set by Sanjay. Our singer, Niyati Ram, then sang four songs from the 70s, and we followed that up with a 15 minute piano performance by Myles Martin. Both Niyati and Myles have a passion for connecting with the elderly and are aspiring artists. We ended by having a long genuine conversation with the audience by Sriyansh and I,” said Rudy.” My favorite part is the conversations we have with people at the end of our performances. It gives us a chance to form a deep personal connection. It feels like talking to my grandparents”, expressed Sriyansh.
Recently, the teens were featured on FOX news for their fantastic work, and they hope to continue spreading their love of laughter and grow their organization through their new partnership with Celebration Magazine. They have a great upcoming show planned and are very excited for this newfound partnership.
See LOL Youth Performance Outreach at The SPOT on Saturday, May 14th as the opening act before VIVA LAS ELVIS! To purchase your tickets, call 469-532-2622.