In New Delhi on 5th July 2017, Bedlam Comedy presented ‘Women’s Open Mic Night’ that was hosted by Neeti Palta. The concept of Open Mic Night is to get women on stage and try stand-up comedy for the first time in their lives in front of a sizeable audience. The entry pass to the Bedlam Comedy show was charged at a reasonable amount of Rs.150. The stage room was non-intimidating (which can be quite a relief for someone who is trying to be funny on stage for the first time). The seating arrangement was informal and friendly. Next to the stage room was a library full of books and a bar that sold beer and popcorn. Around 7 women were scheduled to perform and were given 4 minutes each for the same.
Before I get to writing about the show, I must speak on something amazing related to the Bedlam Comedy. Ms. Reshma Ramachandran came across as a lovely person who warmly replied to my formal RSVP. Before the show started, I saw her stand at the entrance of the floor, smiling and warmly greeting the audience that walked in. The second amazing thing was the video Bedlam Comedy posted on Facebook that gave people the visual reference of directions to the destination, ‘A Little Anarky’. I could locate the building because I saw the video that told me how to reach it from Hauz Khas Village barricade that is next to the parking lot. The event was on the top floor of ‘A Little Anarky’ and I saw wild and beautiful graffiti on the walls as I went up the stairs. When I reached the floor, my socially-awkward-introvert side leapt up. Since my college got over, I have never seen such a big group of young guys and girls in one place. I can bet no one was above the age of 35 years. The crowd was a mix of artists, entrepreneurs, spouses and boyfriends of performers, college couples out on dates and single people looking for some fun. There was a lot of South Delhi swag going on and lot of people seemed to have known each other.
The show started with Neeti Palta warming the audience and getting their minds into the funny zone. She told the audience to be nice, warm and supportive to the performers for whom the first time experience can get quite daunting. She joked, “How many have seen me perform before?” When she saw quite a lot of hands go up, she said, “Damn! I can’t repeat the jokes!” The women stand-up comedy is so different from men! It has an aura of warmth and bonhomie. When I think of funny men, I think All India Bakchod [AIB] (Despite knowing there are women in the team.) When I think of funny women, I think of Mallika Dua and Aditi Mittal’s playful banter which is funny without having the sting of AIB Roast.
The easiest way to make people laugh is to either crack jokes on the self or those relating to sex. It is difficult to make people laugh on high heels, menstruation, idiosyncrasies of love and attraction. Since very little healthy humor goes round, we are yet to be programmed to appreciate it. However, the women who performed at the Open Mic were very funny. They had carefully not rehearsed which gave their performance spontaneity and the feeling of, “I don’t know what’s going to come out of my mouth next!” Mohak Pajni joked about her odd name and how it rhymes with ‘Momos’. Priya brought to light the humor in the way guys deal with rejection. Sangay (whose husband was cheering her from the audience) spoke of that one time she bargained at Lajpat Nagar, “Bhaiyya sahi daam batao. Aisa jo mujhe dene mein mazaa aaye aur aapko lene mein.”
The Open Mic event was the first ever of its kind hosted by the Bedlam Comedy who “Are a Community of Artists and Changemakers that celebrate ordered chaos and create a space for people to get together and make shit happen through workshops, screening, Open Mic sessions and mixers that they host as well as curate.” There is nothing like humor to get the ball rolling. There is nothing like getting women into that space, especially in India where as Neeti Palta says, “The Prime Minister has taken constructive steps to promote women…. Of the wrong species” (read – cows).