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Park Slope Couple Will Be Laughing All the Way to South Beach

When Pratikshya Patil first met Apurva Narechania, she didn’t even like him. “I couldn’t stand him for the first few years,” she says, in fact. But that was way back in high school, before Narechania had a chance to grow on Patil. Today, the loving Park Slope couple is 11 years into their relationship and they’ve just been named winners of the Laugh Factory’s “My Funny Valentine” contest. Patil, a veterinarian who practices at the New York Veterinary Hospital, and Narechania, a genomics scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, were enjoying a cool night on the town to mark Valentine’s Day together when they decided to slip into the Laugh Factory on 8th Avenue and 43rd Street for a drink and a few giggles. “We were just sitting at the bar when someone approached us and asked us if we wanted to join the contest,” Patil says. All they would have to do was get up on stage and tell a room full of strangers about the funniest moments they’d shared as a couple. “I was immediately interested,” Patil says. “We have a lot of funny stories.” So, as other, more practiced couples took their turn behind the mic, Patil and Narechania, both 29, put their heads together and started listing their top eight funniest moments in order of hilarity. “We were thinking of things that would appeal to a New York City audience,” says Chicago transplant Patil. It didn’t take them long to zero in on the time the two were at the opera while traveling abroad in Budapest, Hungary. “It was a German opera translated into Hungarian and we were really bored,” Patil explains. To break the monotony of the evening’s entertainment, Narechania – a man who now spends his days helping to crack the secrets of the human genome – began to absentmindedly tie his best gal’s arm up in the string that happened to be holding up his pants. “When we finally got up to go, his pants fell down, and everybody was looking at me wondering what I had been doing,” Patil laughs. The couple followed up with the time they tried traversing a treacherous patch of icy snow back in Chicago laden down with armfuls of newly-bought pet supplies and one live hamster they dubbed “Chin.” “I only dropped him once,” the caring veterinarian confessed. Alas, the hamster Patil would later treat for injuries sustained in a tragic accident involving a freefalling radio would not fare quite as well — its owners decided that it would be cheaper to get a new hamster then foot the bill for the necessary treatment. “I told them I could set the broken bones,” Patil says in a small voice. This was the first year Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada staged a “My Funny Valentine” contest at his New York club, but he’s betting it won’t be the last. “It’s not always so easy for people to show their sensitive side even on Valentine’s Day,” he says. “This contest was a chance for audience members to express themselves through comedy.” It certainly wasn’t easy for Patil and Narechania up there on stage. “People were yelling at me,” Patil says. “I didn’t know if they could even hear me. I was very confused.” Narechania was a little smoother on stage, benefiting from years of theater experience back in college. But both were shocked when they were granted the first prize – two round-trip airline tickets to sunny South Beach, Florida. “We were very surprised when we won,” says Patil. “But we went into the contest thinking, ‘what do we have to lose?’” When they’re not treating sick cats and dogs or plumbing the depths of human genetics, the couple enjoys spending time a lot of time at Prospect Park. “I think we’re funny separately,” says Patil. “And we feed off of each other when we’re together.” Attending a bunch of Second City shows back in Chicago might have helped them hone their sense of humor as well. While the two have not yet officially tied the knot, Patil says that they are talking about getting engaged. “I wanted to wait until I finished with school,” she says. They’ll have a year to figure out just when they want to jet down to South Beach — perhaps to celebrate their new union. “We’re thinking of a weekend getaway,” Patil says.

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