Long road ahead for comediennes on TV
Though there has been a rise of female comedians in the West, and we have seen a number of female stand-up comics and even few comic artists creating content for social media, the dearth of female comedians on television is quite noticeable.
On TV, while there have been a number of actors who excelled in comedy like Kavita Kaushik in FIR, Shilpa Shinde in Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain!, Disha Vakani in Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah etc, male comedians have been ruling the roost on the tube. For years now, Kapil Sharma, Sunil Grover, Kiku Sharda, Ali Asgar, Krushna Abhishek, and many more have showcased their talent in comedy shows but when it comes to women, there’s Bharti Singh, Sugandha Mishra, Upasana Singh to name a few.
Sharda finds it interesting that female stand-up comics are rising, and he has a theory about the lack on female comedians on TV. He says, “It has a lot to do with upbringing as to be funny is a lifestyle. While joking with seniors or cracking one-liners, one might face resistance from seniors in the house or men might not like a joke from a woman. Joke from a woman is received differently. But things are changing these days and opinions of women matter. A joke is a joke no matter which gender.”
The stand-up comedy scene gives a wider scope for talent to joke and talk about a variety of things while catering to family audiences on TV, one has to be aware and filtered as opposed to comedy on digital or on stage, feels Sharda. “We are doing great comedy on TV, but comedy isn’t the biggest genre on TV as drama shows rate better,” he adds.
Mishra, who is popular for many imitating many celebs including singer Lata Mangeshkar, appreciates that female comedians are quite a hit on digital platforms and stand-up comedy as they don’t have to stick to “clean copy”. “One can give abuses or talk freely online which is not the case on TV which has its limitations. Moreover, the good looking girls, would rather act on TV than do comedy. They have better scope. While doing comedy, one has to look funny and dress up which isn’t glamorous always. Not everyone is ready to do that. It is challenging to work with such restrictions,” says Mishra.
Archana Puran Singh, who’s been entertaining audiences since the 90s in her comic avatar in TV shows such as Shrimaan Shrimati, and Karamchand, was one of the few who didn’t look like a “stereo typical comic”. “Female actors often are keen play heroines onscreen as they don’t want to look undiginified. Earlier, female comedians had to be overweight, or look awkward or appear a certain way to evoke laughter. Women don’t want to lose dignity onscreen and comedy can’t be done otherwise. That is a reason why women are less inclined to do comedy on TV. I was able to comedy when I let go of any desire to look a particular way on screen,” she says.
Singh is glad that women have breaking barriers in comedy online, if not TV. “The ones who are making waves are the ones who are on social media. They are creating their own content and setting standards for others,” she concludes
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