Radhika Vaz: “I Flirted With A Couple, Who Were Father And Daughter. I Creeped Myself Out”
Comedy probably seems like the easiest, most fun career to be in. But this is far from the truth.
The gift of the gab, the ability to make people laugh, and to make a living out of it, is a lot harder than it looks. And being a woman in this space — even harder. Which is why these hilarious women we’ve featured in our Women In Comedy series this month deserve your applause. They’re smart, they’re sassy, and they’ll leave you in splits. Read on about how comedy happened to them.
A vocal feminist and totally unapologetic, Radhika Vaz has a knack for tacking serious gender issues in such a funny way that you can’t help but agree (and laugh) with her. One of the first Indian women to hit the comedy scene, Radhika is a prolific writer as well. Her one-woman stand-up shows are consistently sold out, and she has garnered a wide fan base across the world.
She tells us how it all started for her, and that time she creeped herself out.
The Terrifying Beginning
The one thing that stands out about that night is the sheer terror I felt. It was so intense that I felt physically ill. The only thing that has come close was the moment before my first (and last) bungee jump.
I’d say I knew I wanted to make a living off of comedy sometime in 2006 — I had just started teaching improvisational comedy, and being able to teach something and make money from it made me feel like I had a useful skill.
Performing, I thought at the time, would always be supplementary. Then in 2012 that changed — I got lucky. I think the only thing I regret is not having a second language — I am insanely jealous of all my Hindi and Hinglish speaking compatriots.
While I’ve had plenty of ‘best’ shows, I think my worst was when I got into a fight with audience members in a club in Delhi. And perhaps the most embarrassing moment on stage was when I flirted with a couple, only to find out they were father and daughter. I creeped myself out.
Sometimes you do get a tough audience too, but you just keep going — you win some, you lose some. And on personal bad days, you fake it — it’s called acting. You don’t have a choice.
Even though the Indian comedy scene is thriving, there’s still a fair bit of gender discrimination that goes on — the same kind of pitfalls all women in entertainment face.
Producers are trained to cater to the male audience so, therefore, women get hired less and paid less too. It’s pretty blatant, to be honest.
Even journalists — no offence to you lovely people! — covering the industry have had lists of “top 10 comics”, with not one woman featured. The recent collaboration between Amazon Prime and Indian comics is just another example. It is surprising that such a large outfit wouldn’t research a new market. That is my only thought on it.
Me in three words: Tall, dark, and handsome.
Favourite one-liner joke: It’s too dirty to publish.
Current project: I am working on trying to reach more comedy lovers through my book Unladylike, A Memoir. It’s probably easier than getting to a show AND you can re-gift it! Now go buy one on Amazon or Flipkart!