Ask Vasu Pramlani, one of the well-known names among stand up comics, if being a woman and cracking jokes on stage is a challenge, she reponds matter-of-factly, “It is both an advantage and a disadvantage. People assume that women are not funny. But when we get up on stage people cannot get over how funny we are!”
All set to perform in the city this weekend, Vasu is a familiar face who also loves the Hyderabadi audience. For her, it all started with a casual conversation with her friend.
“I was talking to a dear friend, Vidur Kapur, who is a famous comedian in the US. He was telling me how great stand-up comedy is. He adviced me and six years later, here I am!,” she recalls. While that conversation triggered the comic in her, she owes her talent to her parents.
“They have a great sense of humour. My father once got me a book to read, the Encyclopedia of Murders and Murderers. Then he put a butter knife to my throat with ‘I am going to kill you.’ And I was like, “MAAAAA!” He promptly dropped the knife, walked away, and said, “I’m so kind,” she adds.
Known for her deadpan expressions, where the humour is subtle and classy, Vasu addresses social issues through her comedy. Being an environmentalist by profession is an added advantage.
“I crack environmental jokes to promote environmental understanding. It is, however, awkward when my B-school students demand I do a stand-up gig for them in the middle of class. One of my reviews after class complained that I did not do comedy in my sustainability class!,” laughs the multi-faceted Vasu, who is a corporate trainer, triathlete training for Ironman, a somatic practitioner working with rape victims and rapists, a rock climbing teacher and also a B-School teacher.
Talking about her routine on stage, she admits that a well made script will not work as audiences have a varied sense of humour. She improvises on the spot after analysing the audience. She shares one instance. “In one of my Delhi shows, a guy was drunk. And he made this weird yell in the middle of my set. I looked at him, and said, what was that? Your mating call? And it brought the house down!” she recalls.
The 41-year-old is also impressed by the current set of comics who are setting the stage on fire, where almost all of them have an underlying agenda. “It is burgeoning. Indian comics are absolutely brilliant and can make you pee your pants. They are also the greatest thinkers in society - they are the defenders of democracy, and truth. Three years ago it was almost unheard of. Before that, it was the times of Jaspal Bhatti. Now it is exploded, and Indians have discovered professional comedy,” she observes.
Swearing and taking a dig at a community or an individual is common in the comic scene currently. While Vasu feels that swearing is only an amateur’s act. “Professional comics don’t swear, except in context. If you hear a comedian swear as punctuation, he is generally an amateur. But on the other hand, taking a dig is a lot of fun.You ‘mock insult’ someone you love and trust they will understand you are teasing them. Teasing is a great tool to build trust, and provides the audience an opportunity to laugh at themselves,” opines Vasu. On the same note, responding to a question on the recent AIB Roast, Vasu simply feels that if the subject of humour has no problem being ribbed in that way, no one else has no right to be offended on their behalf. “It’s much ado about nothing. A roast is meant to be below-the-belt humor. The AIB is to be respected in being the front runners of Indian comedy; they are professional comics and are incredible people,” appreciates Vasu.
Details: Saturday, February 28 from 8 pm onwards at Tease, Vivanta by Taj - Begumpet.