Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai)


After Agrima Joshua’s controvers­y, comedians say jokes are a serious business in the stand-up circuit

- PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM/ EXLOLAKUTT­Y AND HT PHOTO PHOTO: TWITTER Mallika Bhagat mallika.bhagat@hindustant­imes.com

The recent controvers­y over an old video of Mumbai-based stand-up comedienne Agrima Joshua has exposed the ‘unfunny’ reality of female comic artists, who continue to get targeted. Joshua’s year-old joke — on the proposed statue of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapat­i Shivaji Maharaj in Maharashtr­a — resurfaced on the internet and caused a massive uproar on the social media accusing her of hurting religious sentiments. The comic took down the video and issued an apology, but the row didn’t stop there and prompted rape threats including one that had an abusive video message from a 26-year-old Vadodara resident named Shubham Mishra, who was later arrested.

Comedienne Neeti Palta agrees that the trolling faced by Joshua is the reality of most comedians in the country. “As of now, we are all being trolled. But, if you are a comedian and an outspoken woman, you will eventually hit the sexist brickwall,” opines Palta.

“It’s tougher for a woman to make her mark because as soon as a woman enters the stage, she is judged; people often don’t hear her out but simply look at her,” says standup comedian Amit Tandon.

Comedienne Anuradha Menon says that many a times female artists in the stand-up realm have to reconsider their jokes due to intolerant attitudes. “Most people come in with a bias that women lack a funny bone. The trolling starts with comments on our physicalit­y; we often hear things like ‘You are ugly, fat and are not funny’.”

“Many female comedians have left the profession because of this constant badgering,” says popular stand up comedian Vasu Primlani.

However, once a comic, male or female, takes a dig at something, and it goes viral, it becomes difficult to then explain one’s stance and render an apology. Tandon says when a joke goes wrong “You can’t give clarificat­ion on social media, because 95% people have already made up their minds.”

Menon adds, “As comics, we are asked to punch up, but how do we do that when there is so much push back from society.”

 ??  ?? (Above) Anu Menon; (right) Vasu Primlani; (below) Agrima Joshua’s tweet
(Above) Anu Menon; (right) Vasu Primlani; (below) Agrima Joshua’s tweet
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