City-based stand-up comedian Aayushi Jagad tells us about her experience of being a part of the Queens of Comedy show on television
and how comedy is no cakewalk
Aayushi Jagad does what she loves, and loves what she does. This city-based comic, vocalist, stylist and writer has been challenging stereotypes and is absolutely unapologetic about everything — from the way she appears, to her sense of humour and the punches in her jokes. The 25-year-old who is among the top eight contestants on TLC’s Queens of Comedy — India’s first all-women comedy show — is completely comfortable in her own skin and doesn’t regret dropping out of college to pursue what comedy.
Jagad, who started out as a fashion stylist, soon switched to comedy because she had reached a point where she wasn’t loving her work. “My writing partner Sumedh Natu pushed me to try stand-up comedy and much to my surprise, it went well! I loved the reaction I got at my first open mic, and a little later I got to learn from some amazing comics, so I just kept doing open mics,” says Jagad who confesses that the switch wasn’t easy and comedy is hard but she enjoys it immensely.
So what is it like to be among the top eight contestants on Queens of Comedy, we ask her. “Getting on the show was an amazing surprise,” says Jagad, adding, “We shot for five weeks in Mumbai and it was such a pleasure to work alongside these really talented and funny women. TLC and OML (Only Much Louder) indeed treated us like queens.”
The show is judged by actress Richa Chadha, and comics Kaneez Surka and Rohan Joshi. Talking about her experience of being judged by them, Jagad says that the contestants got some valuable feedback, especially from Rohan, who she has looked up to for many years and still does. “It was cool getting feedback from people who are at the top of their game,” she adds. When asked what’s the one thing that sets her apart from other contestants, she promptly replies, “Crippling anxiety and insecurity, mostly.”
Jagad admits that stand-up comedy is one of those few things where there’s no guarantee that a comic will have a good night on stage. “Nobody is exempt from the uncertainty. The goal is to become better at the craft, learn and be a better comic than when you started,” says she.
Like most stand-up comedians, Jagad draws inspiration from her own life and personal experiences. “My self-involvement and narcissism shows in my set, I think. As new open micers, we’re told to talk about what we know. When I try to deviate from that, I end up sounding disingenuous, because I don’t truly believe what I’m saying. Conviction of your own opinions goes a long way in comedy, so I usually start there, with the things I know to be true, and things I find amusing,” she explains.
Queens of Comedy is India’s first all-women comedy show. “I think as more women start to prove otherwise, like my fellow contestants on the show, slowly people will forget gender and just listen to the jokes. But even then, there’s bound to be hate, the problem is systemic. The beauty is we get to do what we love anyway, it’s a nice little ‘f@%k you’ to the system,” Jugad says.
She had a short stint with AIB (All India Bakchod) as a writer and says that she got to learn a lot from comics who were the best in the business, while working alongside a group of writers who were supremely witty and very talented. “I wish I’d been more useful. I’d joined AIB as the First Draft coordinator, and then Tanmay (Bhatt) let me work with the writing teams in my last couple of months. I had done one open mic when I’d joined them, and my novice status showed. After six months, it wasn’t working out for them, so they asked me to leave, which I did with a heavy heart. But they’ve remained very supportive to this day. They are very encouraging of new talent, and I’ll always be grateful that they gave me my start,” informs Jagad.
When asked about the comedy scene in Pune, Jagad says that comedy in Pune is newer than it has been in Mumbai or Delhi. “Audiences here respond very well to bigger names in the industry, but the support for local and new talent is still scarce. The scene hasn’t had much time to grow in this city yet, but since it’s been functional for a little over a year now, it’s growing steadily. The only way to go is up. Collectives like Stand Up Fever Pune and The Dapper Room are organising open mics consistently, and I’m excited to see how the scene develops.”