‘Ladies Up’ on Netflix: A much-needed win for women’s comedy in India

‘Ladies Up’ is currently streaming on Netflix

‘Ladies Up’ is currently streaming on Netflix  

Kaneez Surka, Niveditha Prakasam, Prashasti Singh and Supriya Joshi talk to us about their Netflix all-female stand-up special and how it’s all about keeping it relatable

Over the last week, Netflix India’s all-female stand-up special Ladies Up has been the talk of the town — and for good reason. Starring Comicstaan alumni Prashasti Singh and Supriya Joshi, Queens of Comedy winner Niveditha Prakasam, and the most experienced performer of the lot, improv artist and actor Kaneez Surka, the show has struck a chord with watchers across the country.

With an aim to change perception, the special, which is a collection of four 15-odd minute sets by the women, doesn’t stick to a constant unifying theme or agenda, as the topics keep shifting: everything from Tinder hook-ups and casual sex to comedy in Tamil cinema and body positivity is on the table.

However, it’s the interactive ability of the performers that truly make the show sparkle, and makes it a milestone for women’s comedy in India, with the promise of more to come. Talking to us from the confines of their quarantine (like the rest of us), here are the four talented artistes on what Ladies Up means to stand-up in India, the background behind their humour, and how the community of comics in India are reacting to the coronavirus lockdown.

Kaneez Surka

‘Ladies Up’ on Netflix: A much-needed win for women’s comedy in India

I think my set on the show is a reflection of who I am and where I come from; with all its context and background.

Though I’ve done a lot of improv comedy and acted in shows over the years, my experience with stand-up was always on the side. It’s an art form I started taking seriously only recently, so in many ways, Ladies Up is quite a new adventure for me.

I focus on a lot of themes during my bit, and one in particular involves me wanting to become a mom — however, now that I’m stuck in quarantine, I might be reconsidering that. (laughs) It’s important for me not to pander to the audience or try too hard, but keep it relatable: that’s always been the go-to philosophy. The fact that Netflix has put this together is fantastic: here’s hoping this forges a path ahead as I’m determined to get my solo one-hour special at the end of all this!

What am I doing during quarantine? Apart from working on new material, I’ve binge-watched Sex Education that i absolutely love, and for some reason, random episodes of Shark Tank always seem to be playing in my house.

Niveditha Prakasam

‘Ladies Up’ on Netflix: A much-needed win for women’s comedy in India

My comedy is derived a lot from my formative years as a young girl in Coimbatore and that involves movies of course. Given that Tamil films were a huge part of our culture growing up, I often found myself appalled at the humour — for instance, take the popular Angavai Sangavai scene from Sivaji? I was shocked that people found it funny!

Having said that, I also know that my grasp over Tamil is limited — so it’s not in my intention to try to change the comedy scene down south. However, I do believe that I can represent the culture on a larger platform; for instance I’ve had a lot of people from the US or other countries abroad tell me that they are happy that references from the south are finally being mentioned in mainstream comedy shows.

During this lockdown, the idea of live streaming shows or going on Instagram live sounds interesting, but a huge part of what I do depends on my interaction with the audience —in fact that’s one of the biggest wins a stand-up comic thrives on. I’m not sure it’s quite that easy to pull it off, but I’m mulling over it.

Prashasti Singh

‘Ladies Up’ on Netflix: A much-needed win for women’s comedy in India

My inspiration comes purely from anecdotes from my personal life and on this set, it revolves quite a bit around my painful dating exploits —the more painful they are, the more content they provide!

The process of preparing for a set like this is quite intense: testing the jokes with open mics, finding two among ten that work, further workshopping it and then fine-tuning it to be delivered. I also pay a lot of attention to the frequency of the jokes, how long the set-up for a punch line needs to be, and so on. However, there is no point in sticking to a formula nor do the jokes have any agenda — that’s the best way to make sure it connects with the audience.

We are all getting through the quarantine and figuring out if an online act would click. Of course, even on Instagram Live, the boys who hit on me are terribly young and end up calling me ‘Didi’.. hey, I even got a situation-appropriate line: Corona ke time pe masti karona?

Supriya Joshi

‘Ladies Up’ on Netflix: A much-needed win for women’s comedy in India

The thing about Ladies Up is that it dismantles all these silly stereotypes about women’s humour — that they all make the same jokes and can’t find unique topics. Here you have four different women, from various backgrounds, and talking about completely different things. It’s a great step forward for women’s comedy.

In a way, maybe it’s good that the show released during the lockdown and can be a light-hearted, quick watch for everyone stuck in quarantine. The essence of my segment, is to really focus on self-love and mental health, while not losing sight of who you are and how it’s important to understand that there are different definitions of beauty. I hope it resonates with women out there.

A lot of interesting collaborations are being planned in the comic community in India during this quarantine period, and we are definitely planning on releasing something soon.

Ladies Up is currently streaming on Netflix

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 11:43:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/ladies-up-a-much-needed-win-for-womens-comedy-in-india/article31256433.ece

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