AAnuradha Menon is a stand-up comedienne who’s known to tickle the funny bone with her jokes based on personal experiences. In a conversation with us before her comedy show ‘Wonder Menon’, she talks about her life as an uncool kid in Chennai, being a female comedian, a south Indian in a thepla-loving Gujju family, being a wonder without having it all together and more.
This South-Indian girl never had the pressure to become a doctor or an engineer or a lawyer. “I was a real nerd in school, I went to an all girls school and also to an all girls college, I am very convent educated (laughs). I was the hardworking student in the corner and acting or anything similar to it was never really an option until my mom asked me to go to London to a drama school, and then I went to the drama school for two years”.
Despite theatre being her first love she always knew that she cannot earn a living by doing theatres so she planned of getting a television job that would support her theatre habits. “Then I came to Mumbai and got a job in Channel V, luckily as Lola Kutty, and that supported my travelling all over the world for theatre and stuff like that. So I think even stand-ups are an extension of yourself, it’s the closest version of you on stage”, she added.
The Lola Kutty hangover has her fans hooked still. “I often come across people when I am performing and they would tell me with a Lola image in their mind “Oh! You look nothing like Lola Kutty” or “I still prefer you as Lola but I like you even better”. So I don’t really know if that’s a compliment. Half of them will really like Lola and the other half would actually like the character I am playing”, she says.
Anu definitely feels that stereotypes do still exist when it come to female comediennes. “Being a woman comedian I get some really strange compliments from women like “You have a great complexion” or “What curly hair product do you use”, and I am like ok that’s alright but you didn’t say anything about my performance. It’s a very female reaction that male comedians do not get. It’s a pre-conceived notion that women comedians would concentrate on women centric things and would only talk about women related problems, but I am like — we can talk about anything that’s funny, fun is fun, you don’t have to go through the same experience for it to be funny. Recently there was a guy who tweeted that women comedians only talk about boobs, bras and periods and I was like Oh! My god, I don’t talk about either of them, I feel like I have let my people down”, laughs Anu.
Ask her how she loves thepla and she would tell you — can’t stand Theplas, gujjus are very picky with their vegetables, they won’t eat paneer or mushrooms, and they will always have a problem with something or the other. Like when I am in Mumbai, they don’t get the concept of Udipi food.”
Speaking about how she feels performing in her home town, she says, “I am always excited about coming to Chennai as I grew up there and my mom would always ask me what exactly are you going to speak about, and I am like I am not going to tell you. And she takes offence and I will be like you watch it like everyone else would do. Then she’ll be like what are you wearing and I’ll tell her let’s not go there, and she’ll say what do you mean you gotta dress decently in Chennai. And everywhere else it’s like “Oh! You are Lola Kutty’s mother” and here in Chennai it’s like Oh! You are Minnie Menon’s daughter, so it kinda feels nice. But I get nervous as well since I am performing at home.”
We prodded her on why she thought of ‘Wonder Menon’ for her show and she had quite an explanation for this. “I think as a woman we all have this super woman complex, like we always have to be perfect in the way we look or whatever we do. We put on so much pressure on ourselves to be the best wife, a best daughter, best mother, best in bed, best cook or even best kitty-party leader and so on. So the point of it was to tell women that it’s alright to be a sloth in track pants, being an anti-superhero is also cool. It is ok to be a wonder and not have it all together”, states the ‘Wonder Menon’ herself. So don’t miss the opportunity and go grab your seats to see the wonder woman yourself, oops,I mean Wonder Menon on 17th at the Music Academy Mini Hall, Chennai.