A Kanjeevaram-clad woman with gajra in her hair, and spectacles as thick as her Malayali accent, became popular with those who had an appetite for comedy. Though Lola Kutty is an old stint that Menon only does for a few corporate shows here and there, she is making her mark on the comedy scene with sketches, and stand-up shows.
The witty woman is also a judge, along with comedian Varun Thakur, in a light-hearted, hilarious battle of the sexes that is TLC’s Queens vs Kings. “I am captain of the girls team and Varun (Thakur) is the captain of the boys team, considering I have never been a captain of anything in life, now becoming a captain in my 30s is great. In every episode, we will explore a topic — sexism, tourism, professionalism etc and do stand up and indulge in interesting fun games based on the topics. Whoever wins in all the rounds will be the winner of the episode,” says Anu, who will be performing her stand-up special titled ‘Wonder Menon’ at Hard Rock Cafe Pune on April 29. Queens vs Kings will premiere on Monday, April 23 at 9 pm on TLC and TLC’s YouTube channel - Rise by TLC.
Of boys and girls
Despite a considerable number of female comics in India, there is a popular misconception that women aren’t funny enough. Will the notion change and will people begin to think that women can be good comedians? “They still think that at the end of the show (laughs!),” exclaims Anu. She believes that this idea comes from that fact that women have always been brought up to follow mannerisms. “We are always told to act and be proper. On the contrary, men have been conditioned to be whatever they like to be, hence they get away easily with any kind of jokes. Even in my son’s school, I find that girls are far more superior than boys — they are good at debates, are phenomenal at stage performances, they know their lines better, are good with their homework and can tell their moms what happened in school. The boys are kamchor and get away with being cutesy. They crack a joke when they have to make an excuse, smile to avoid getting scolded. I think it all starts off like that and later in life, manifests in other ways,” explains Anu.
She says that everyone has a different sort of sense of humour. “Either you like a certain sense of humour or you don’t. I don’t necessarily feel that gender or sex has any part to play in it. For example, I personally do not like scatological humour, but I’m not saying that it is funnier when a guy says it or a girl says it. You don’t like something, you don’t like something. Period,” she adds.
It is not easy to be a female comedian in India. Talking about the challenges she faces, she says, “While the male comics get comments that they are so funny, I get ‘what lovely curls you have!’ ‘How do you maintain that wasteline having a five year old’, ‘Where did you get this dress from?’All these compliments are good but mere joke ke baare me bhi kuch bolo na! (say something about my jokes) Even the show (Queens vs Kings) talks about how differently both genders approach a joke and sell our jokes.”
When asked about the changing scene in comedy in India, she says that it is an industry that has suddenly mushroomed and has grown strength to strength. “It is such a young industry and now every city has an open mic and most bars have a stand-up show and I think at the end of the day, all you need is a geographical location and a mic and you are good to go,” says Anu.
When asked if today, comedy can be taken seriously, she answers, “The fact that it can now be a good profession to pursue, the profession has got a good boost — comedy is not something that you do as hobby anymore. Depending on how good you are, you will always find an audience for your set. The fact that some of the iconic comedians from the West are coming to India and performing here seems so surreal. Having said that, there are too many good players and in order to stand out, you need to be really really good at what you are doing."
The wonder of Menon
Coming to Wonder Menon, her performance in the city, she says that the set talks about her life as an uncool kid in Chennai, being a female comedian, a South Indian bahu in a thepla-loving Gujju family, life as an exhausted mother of a 5-year-old in being, a wonder without having it all together and more. “It is a bunch of fun stories about my life, my relationships, my marriage, my travels, my son. Obviously, I’m not not as tall, and half as beautiful as Gal Gadot, but that’s how ‘Wonder Menon’ is!” she quips.