After spending 15 years in New York, stand-up and sketch comedy artist Radhika Vaz recently moved back to Mumbai. Her latest show, Older, Angrier, Hairier, focussing on gender roles, ageing and double standards, was sold out in Delhi, Gurgaon, Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai. Vaz chats about George Carlin, Johnny Depp and Rahul Gandhi. In that order.
One of the best jokes I have heard was by George Carlin. He had a list of people he wanted to kill. It included parents who send pictures of their children during Christmas. He begins, “I don’t even look at the card. Who is this? Luanne? I don’t give a shit how old she is. Does she have any tits yet? Send me a picture of her tits.” It nailed it. I shared it with my dad and we both laughed hard.
I make a lot of fun of my husband and father (in her latest show). I use them as my male archetypes and reference point even though they are very supportive people.
Men in Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore are different in the clothes they wear when they go to bed. Delhi boys like pyjama-kurta, Chennai men are happy in their lungis, Mumbai boys wear shorts and, as far as I know, Bangalore guys sleep naked. Yes, that’s right.I think Indian men shouldn’t be afraid of feminists. It’s been proved they are better at conversation, arithmetic and sex. I would advise them to call their mother every damn day if they have to, but to make sure they never do it in front of their wife. It will just annoy her. If you own what they are calling a ‘compact’ car and have hired a driver, sit in the front passenger seat. Support your sister’s unconventional choices. It’s the least you can do. Don’t expect your girl to shave if you are not man-scaping yourself. Men love blowjob jokes. But, more than that, they like jokes on shit. What do you think most of them are doing now? Sitting on the pot, reading this esteemed publication. After a show, a guy came up to me to tell me that he and his close friends take pictures of their ‘productions’ and WhatsApp it to each other. Can you imagine how much more liberated the world would be if women started taking pride in their shit?
Any joke on Rahul Gandhi works here. The poor man is the low hanging fruit of the comedy world and we are making the most of it.
I like men who are confident and strong. Physical strength can be sexy, but not aggressiveness. I also like men who smell good, read and are animal lovers. And androgynous men, and those with long hair. One example is Johnny Depp who wears more jewellery than a Sindhi girl at a wedding.
Audience in the west is more experimental. They are willing to take the plunge. New York has an evolved culture of live performance. We are beginning to get there.
I get the same reaction everywhere, be it New York, or Mumbai. It has always been extreme. There will be one set that will be laughing and clapping, while another lot will be quiet and red with embarrassment.
I give men an opportunity to sit back and laugh at the ridiculous things women do. I try to give them a view into our world in my shows.
By Madhuwanti Saha