Here, laughter reigns

Get ready for the battle of sexes on the stage of comedy with ‘Queens Vs Kings’. Anu Menon and Varun Thakur talk about the show and more...

For eons, men and women have battled each other. There have been endless debates on who’s stronger, who’s intelligent, who’s intellectual, and most importantly, who’s superior. But in Queens Vs Kings, men and women have only one title to compete for: who’s funnier? TLC’s first of its kind comedy show, hosted by Rahul Subramanian, has two teams: Queens, led by the supremely funny TV anchor Anu Menon, aka Lola Kutty, and Kings, led by the talented stand-up comedian and actor Varun Thakur. Each leader will have three comedians on their team, who will be put in the spotlight in the biggest stand-off that pits them against each other to be funny on the spot. So, you will find ‘queens’ Supriya Joshi, Kaavya Bector and Saadiya Ali battling with ‘kings’ Utsav Chakraborty, Kumar Varun and Sidhart Dudeja on gender-based biases and stereotypes.

Here are edited excerpts from an exclusive conversation with Varun Thakur and Anu Menon:

Tell us about the show ‘Queens Vs Kings’.

Varun Thakur: Queens Vs Kings is a first of its kind comedy show based on the battle of sexes. Each leader has three comedians on their team, and the teams have to make people laugh focusing on issues like sexism, sensationalism, classism, tourism, professionalism and much more.

Anu Menon: It’s a fun tu-tu-main-main, the battle of the sexes. As soon as I heard I am going to be a captain, I said yes without even knowing what the show is about because I have never been a captain in my life.

How do you plan to beat each other on the show?

Varun: What I feel will work for my team is our chemistry. I’m friends with and have worked with Utsav, Kumar and Sidhart for quite some time now. So, playing all the improv games becomes easier.

Anu: We are just going to be better than them. It’s as simple as that. It’s a novel concept. TLC first started off with Queens of Comedy, and now, it’s Queens Vs Kings. And we have had far more sponsors for Queens of Comedy. That itself should tell you girls are better than boys. But I do feel that Rahul (host) was biased on some occasions. I think he played the male card quite often. What more, since he is also a South Indian, it was a stab in the back for me!

What are the biggest stereotypes and biases you have witnessed in comedy?

Varun: Unfortunately, biases do exist. However, it’s important to look at comedians as comedians and not as male comic and female comic. But there are so many amazing women in the world of comedy today that are constantly pushing the envelope, and very soon these biases will be a thing of the past.

Anu: Male comedians will have many female fans going ga-ga over them. But the best a female comedian will get is ‘Oh! You were quite good, madam!’ Even women won’t have any feedback for me after my show, but will only talk about my hair or my waistline. Also, a male comedian can crack jokes about his family and get away with it. But, when I crack jokes about my husband or my son, the audience will sympathise with them.

How’s the comedy scene in India today?

Varun: In terms of awareness and the number of people taking up comedy as a profession, the scene is really good. We’re still in the nascent stage as compared to other countries, but we’re rapidly adapting. The sheer number of shows and comedians is enough testament to the fact that young people in India are looking at it as a legitimate career option.

Anu: It’s a young and rising industry with many players. Today, there are many comedy festivals in every city, and even international comedians want to come here and perform. Thanks to a variety of platforms, comedy has become accessible today. And it doesn’t demand much; all you need for comedy is a performance space and a mike.

Given the incessant trolling comedians are subjected to these days, do you feel Indians don’t have a good sense of humour?

Varun: Indians have a great sense of humour unless the said joke is about them. People, on the whole, need to calm down. There’s so much in this country to worry about. Let’s not add jokes to that list. Because, at the end of it, a joke is just a joke. From politicians to DJs, everybody gets offended easily. I think the only people who don’t mind jokes made on them these days are comedians.

Anu: Trolling isn’t just specific to comedians; everyone gets trolled. I can’t understand why someone would troll anybody for a joke? Because I don’t think anyone could be filled with so much hate they would say such mean things. I also feel social media gives people some anonymity, which is why they think they can get away with anything. But you have to understand that a joke is just somebody’s point of view. It’s not the gospel truth. We just want to make people laugh.

 What does it take to be a good comedian?

Varun: I’m still learning myself. It’s a never-ending process. Every time you go on the stage, you discover something new. You have to keep writing and not get lazy. It’s important to know your strengths as a comedian and focus on that. Don’t try and emulate somebody else. Be true to who you are and the fun will follow.

Anu: You have to keep working on your craft. You are never going to get it right the first time. As a comedian, you have to be true to the kind of person you are in real life. If you try to be someone else, it will show immediately. The base of comedy is the truth, but not everything has to have a deep sociological and philosophical impact. A joke can be stupid or dark, too.

 

Catch ‘Queens Vs Kings’ on TLC every Monday at 9.30 pm.

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