We chat up Niveditha Prakasam, the winner of TLC’s Queens of Comedy, who is known for her wry humour, deadpan expressions, intelligent jokes and strong punchlines
She’s witty, she’s funny, and she’s is smart. Every line she speaks is simultaneously rib-tickling and though-provoking. Loved by one and all, Niveditha Prakasam, has been known for her strong writing and intelligent punchlines. Winner of TLC’s Queens of Comedy, India’s first-ever female comedy show, Chennai-based Prakasam, a former vehicle engineer-turned-language editor is here to rule the comedy scene. Judged by Richa Chadha, Kaneez Surka and Rohan Joshi, and hosted by Varun Thakur, the show proved that women can give men a run for their money when it comes to being funny. Prakasam, who received rave reviews throughout the show, has created a unique style of her own and without a doubt, her blank face and her voice work in her favour. Here’s chatting her up:
How does it feel to become India’s first ‘Queen of Comedy’?
It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I remember a friend telling me, “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be friends with someone on TV, but now I know you, and I don’t feel any different.” I said, “I’ve been on TV, and I don’t feel any different.” I wasn’t quite prepared for this level of attention though. A few people recognised me on the streets, and I don’t know how to react to that. I’m a very awkward person like that.
When and how did you decide to take up comedy?
I did my first open mic in 2014 — it was the first open mic in Chennai. And my second was in 2016 because there weren’t many mics in Chennai back then, or they were too far away, so I wouldn’t be able to reach on time after work. Over a span of three years, I’ve done around 30 open mics, which is a bad number. And honestly, if I had the opportunity to do comedy earlier, I would have.
What are the pros and cons of doing comedy in India?
The pros are that it’s new, and there’s a lot of space for experimentation and innovation. The industry is young, and so is everyone in it. It’s a good time to be in the scene because the future is going to be excellent.
The only con I can think of is the reach. Comedy, especially English comedy, doesn’t have the reach it deserves yet. Open mics happen only in a few big cities, so the opportunities are less for people living in smaller cities. I’m sure we’re missing out on some great comedians because they can’t afford to be in the comedy scene.
What is your comedy of style like?
Comedy has always been my favourite genre of entertainment. It started with TV shows and movies. I started watching stand-up much later; in my late teens. I didn’t have access to stand-up before that. I haven’t quite figured out my style yet since I’m new to it and have a lot to explore. However, it’s mostly observational right now.
Do you think it is difficult to be a female comic?
I think it’s difficult to be a female anything. There is a dearth of women in every field, and that’s the only issue. This is changing quickly though.
Which form of comedy do you enjoy the most — writing, sketch, stand up or improv?
Stand-up, writing and sketch are at the same level for me. I’m not very confident about improv, but I’m working on it. I love anything funny, doesn’t matter what platform. My preferences are based on what I’m more confident doing.
As a comedian, do you approve of sexist and religious jokes? Where can one draw a line when working around such subjects?
Comedy is very tricky because of how subjective it is. Usually, if a joke is funny enough, it will get a pass even if it has a sexist or religious context. The problem is always the intention — like the difference between making fun of your friend and ganging up and bullying a kid younger and more vulnerable than you for no apparent reason.
You are going to have your own show on TLC. Tell us about that.
I don’t know anything about the show yet. But I do know I’ll work hard on it. I will do more stand-up in the meantime.
Who is your favourite comedian in India?
There are so many people in India that I like. There are times when I watch people at open mics and become a fan. There’s so much talent out there that hasn’t been discovered yet. Maybe 10 years from now, I’ll have a favourite; I’m just going to enjoy all the fresh content until then. I’m very excited about the future of comedy in India.