Fearless and funny

Laughter brigade

Fearless and funny

Strain your ears for a second. Do you hear a sound? It’s the heartening echo of glass barriers cracking. Females all over the world are stepping forward to take on jobs that were hitherto considered suitable only for men.

One of these fields is standup comedy. Typically considered a male bastion, this area is seeing an increasing presence of comediennes. From global sensations Ellen DeGeneres and Lilly Singh to homegrown laugh riots Sumukhi Suresh, Kaneez Surka and Mallika Dua, women have proved that they can tickle the funnybones just as well.

Which is why ‘Queens of Comedy’, a reality show exclusively for female comedy talent in the country, has garnered so much interest on social media. Supported by bigwigs like ‘AIB’, the show will be judged by standup comedians Rohan Joshi and Kaneez Surka along with Bollywood actor Richa Chadda, and is seen by many as a step in the right direction.

Standup comedian Shrirupa Sengupta says, “The show will put the spotlight on women and will definitely help improve the scene. Seeing is believing. You see other women do comedy and you see them getting a platform and you feel ‘I can be there too’. It’s pretty inspiring for upcoming youngsters.”

“One of the biggest hurdles that young women who do comedy face are the questions from parents and peer groups. They are told how comedy is not appropriate for women, how making jokes means you will not be taken seriously, safety concerns and more. So shows like these make the parents understand that there should be no gender stereotyping when it comes to comedy,” she adds.

Aarti Shastry, who is part of ‘Adamant Eves’ with ‘Improv Comedy Bangalore’, says “There are just eight participants on the show. It is too small a number but every drop in the ocean counts. ‘AIB’ is a huge name and them supporting women comedians will be a boost for the community. What you need is a larger movement where a lot more women step up on stage and a lot more people come to watch them, setting aside their prejudices and biases.”

But there are others who are calling for a complete change in the mindset and highlighting the problem of gender segregation.

Sneha Suhas, who is also a part of ‘Adamant Eves’, standup comedian and an RJ, says, “What I found not so attractive about the idea is that it’s an all-women thing. I think that’s really regressive in the sense of a competition. Why are you segregating women and saying compete against yourselves? As if they are not good enough to compete against men.”

Sejal Bhat agrees. The standup comedian notes, “I did have a concern that this show might pit women against each other, thereby not serving the purpose of creating a good atmosphere around comedy. Instead of a competition, if it was just a platform to showcase female standup artistes, it would have been better.”

“But on a long enough timeline, this does help the larger cause. You want more people to come to events and such a show, no matter how commercial it is, helps,” she adds.

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