By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Westborough – Attorneys, in general, aren's known for their senses of humor, but don's lump Sumedha Ahuja-Bahri into that humorless category. This Westborough resident has successfully managed to merge a career as a lawyer and an interest in writing comedy. The result is an interactive live comedy production, FishNet-NetWorks.Net!, that has been performed at several Boston locations over the past year.
Ahuja-Bahri said she has always loved the arts, and has been “super creative” since she was a child. But, growing up in her Indian-American family, she was encouraged to pursue a vocation that was deemed “more serious.” She earned her engineering degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and then got her law degree at Northeastern University. But it was while she was working as a patent attorney that she really started pursuing her interest in comedy.
Working at a law firm where there were many different types of personalities gave her plenty of comedic material, she said.
“I started doing stand-up [comedy] for professional organizations, including the Women's Bar Association,” she said.
After meeting her writing partner, John Robert Murphy, the two came up with the concept of an interactive comedy that would parody a typical office meeting.
The play's premise is a “welcome meeting” for new employees at FishNet-NetWorks.Net, a company that uses fish to carry Internet protocol. Each member of the audience is given a nametag at the start of the show and they participate in different skits throughout the performance.
“Everyone is identifiable,” Ahuja-Bahri said of the show's characters. “They are based on real people. We are also just poking fun at stereotypes, because sometimes people just say or think things that are so ridiculous. But it's all done in good spirits.”
For example, she noted Prema Patel is a white girl who was adopted by an Indian family.
“But everyone asks her questions about India even though she herself is not Indian. They just assume she is an authority on India because of her name,” she said.
Other characters include an arrogant manager who only speaks in “buzz words,” the office “ditz,” a “brown noser,” and an Indian technical guru who, while very knowledgeable, is hard to understand because of his heavy accent.
Upper-corporate management is not spared, Ahuja-Bahri added.
“We also do four to five improvisational games which are spoofs on teambuilding and how those games really end up instead humiliating employees,” she said.
“We start out with a “PG-13” rating but sometimes it's taken to an “R.” We keep it very current and incorporate local news and stories that everyone is talking about,” she added.
Although she is the show's co-creator, Ahuja-Bahri's law skills also play an important part in the show's success.
“I's a really good negotiator and very detail-oriented,” she said. “That has come in handy when we were looking for places to perform. When you are responsible for everything, you learn what works and what doesn's.”
“But what I love the most is the writing, especially as a team, and creating entertainment,” she added.
So far, the show has been held at several venues in Boston, including the Doubletree Hotel in the theater district, Nick's Comedy Stop and the Club Café in the South End. Dates for the next production will be announced soon on the show's website, www.fishnet-networks.info.