Women don't have access to half the spaces in comedy, says Aditi Mittal

Durga M Sengupta @the_bongrel | First published: 15 October 2016, 19:13 IST
Aditi Mittal

Women aren't funny, or so many believe. Witty women, thanks to patriarchy, are often considered too smart, unattractive, too fat, ugly, or all of the above.

Not that any of these things are as offensive as the assumption that women can't joke, or worse, can't take a joke.

While these dynamics between women and wit are fairly global, things get a lot more tricky in the Indian subcontinent. Sexist humour keeps our WhatsApp group chats alive, despite most of these jokes being abysmally unfunny.

That unfunny men get to dictate what a good joke is, is a problem. And that our female comics must convince these men otherwise, is frankly, a pain.

Also read - I cannot escape the jungle of patriarchy, confesses Dibakar Banerjee

Famous Indian stand-up comic, Aditi Mittal, lamented this phenomenon on The Bridge Talks stage in Delhi recently. Always introduced as a 'female comedian', Mittal claimed that the girls in the audience swoon all over male comics, but she doesn't get such attentionBecause, you see, to top everything, a funny woman is also unsexy.

Catch interviewed Aditi Mittal and she talked about being an 'added expenditure', how she asserts her identity as an Indian woman on international shows, and more.

DS: Is there a wage gap in the comedy industry that you've encountered?

AM: Is there? Is society patriarchal? Of course it is. Yes, there's a wage gap. In fact, it's not even a wage gap, it's a hiring gap. In fact we don't have access to half the spaces guys would get hired into.

I've been called for gigs and then told, 'Engineering college hai, Aditi. All boys. Tereko khajayenge.' I've had to let go of gigs because [I've been told], 'Listen, there's you and seven men travelling. And on any given occasion, we'd have men partner up for rooms [at the venue], but since it's just you travelling alone, it's an added expenditure.'

DS: Wait, you're an 'added expenditure?'

AM: Yep, I'm an added expenditure. Because, you see, my room will be single and therefore an added expenditure. This is more expensive for producers to take on.