Inside the Head of a ‘Female’ Comedian in India

By Vasundhara Dudeja in Starting Up 09/10/2018

Since, the inception of comedy, from Charlie Chaplin’s silent muse to the new age era of stand-up comedy, the funny face has always belonged to men. The question that remains is, how does a woman in India get to a point where she can make a room full of people listen to her and appreciate what she’s saying.

 

The answer is with great difficulty.

 

Jeeya Sethi is a 37-year-old unapologetic ambitious woman who wants to make the world a better place by making people laugh.

 

The path to success in a creative field is a bumpy ride. And in the world of comedy, according to Jeeya, women start out with even lesser platforms and greater stereotypes. Having herself experienced being introduced as ‘Female’ comedian and facing rooms full of silence on her ‘lady’ jokes, it is easy to see through her story, the plight of women in the world of comedy.

 

“A lot of men say that they are doing a joke on women “ironically” and when a woman turns around and does the same “irony,” everybody turns back to say “She’s a bitch and that’s why she’s doing this””

 

Despite all the negativity and demotivation, what carves out Jeeya’s special journey in the age of Comicstaan is her drive to do something about it.

 

Being an actor, improviser, stand-up comedian and a producer, Jeeya founded a platform called  Come4Come i.e Come for Comedy Open Mic Evenings. Come4Come has had 150 shows till now.

 

But this was not the end of Jeeya’s thrive to give women more space in the world of comedy.

 

Jeeya started a platform exclusively reserved for women called Femapalooza: An all-women line-up with an all-women audience!

 

“When I started Femaplooza, the audience was open for both men and women and it was really great just to make men listen to women for once! Femaplooza made it shows exclusively for women so that women can think “Wow! There are only women? I think this will be a great space to perform”

 

According to her, being sexist towards females for a change after generations of facing sexism at the hands of a man doesn’t really matter to her.

 

“I created a show exclusively for women because I want them to find the courage to come out, to open up and to let their hair down. You can’t just be beautiful and be nice, you need to be NASTY!”

 

It is the efforts made by people like Jeeya that the posters on comedy shows now speak a different and more equally represented stories. Abiding by the mantra of breaking away from pleasing society to do her own thing is what guides her to do more shows, act in many plays and sketches.

 

She believes she can very well do acting but maybe not “actress-ing”

 

But, why not?

 

“I will never go to the gym!”

 

Vasundhara is an in-house content creator. Other than past experiences of writing including writing as an Intern for The Hindu and various other platforms, she is also an engineer, a dancer, and a bibliophile.

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