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Gender bias trips women comedians 

One complaint is that they talk about things too real to be funny

Seema Rao has to balance her career and family.

Female stand-ups in Bengaluru say they have to overcome prejudice before they get gigs.

Shrirupa Sengupta, who performs regularly at Urban Solace, says expectations are higher when women comics get on stage.

“I was not quite aware of the bias. I was only prepared for it at a superficial level,” she says.

One problem could be that the jokes women crack make men uncomfortable.

“A lot of people think women onstage would speak about experiences that are too real to be comical in nature,” she says.

Then come other restrictions, such as what the audiences consider appropriate for women comedians.

“They expect us to talk decently and in a mature manner, and follow a code of conduct,” she says, adding that such expectations create creative blocks.

Not everyone is deterred by the restrictions, though. 

“Despite all the heckling challenges and hindrances, it’s really gratifying to prove with your work what you stand for,” says stand-up Sunetra Pandit, whose last show was at Prayog Studio at Kattaraguppe , Bangalore.

For Seema Rao, being a female comedian is ‘a bit gruelling.’ As a mother and stand-up comic, she often finds it difficult to balance her art and domestic responsibilities.

“If there is a show, I have to make arrangements for someone to take care of my daughter,” she says.

She finds a ‘disparity of response’ when she performs: the audience is set to hear jokes from a male perspective. 

“There is definitely a barrier to verbalising things that don’t fit in,” she says.

Women’s narratives

Seema Rao: As part of ‘Hysterical hormones’, which had an all woman line up, she talked about being called an aunty, polygamy vs polyandry etc. This was at a gig performed at the Teal Door Cafe in Indiranagar.

Shrirupa Rao: “I am Dating a radical feminist. A Feminazi. And I am not Gay” — a quote from her show ‘P.S Bring 12 Tomatoes’ at Evam Stand-Up Tamasha

Sunetra Pandit said this at a gig at Vyoma Art Space “Logic never works. Only Mom’s magic works.”

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