Little Miss Sunshine: Aditi Mittal
Funny woman Aditi Mittal talks on why comedy is her way of life, and how these performances are getting big in India.
She believes that humour is the best fix for gravitas. Exuding an easy charm, Aditi Mittal, a fan of Tina Fey and Kirsten Wiig, stepped into the stand-up comedy scene after quitting her job in New York and moving to India. Allured by the burgeoning interest in it, she trained herself, subsequently moving on to live performances. One of the first women to do stand-up in the country, Mittal has ushered in a new space for others like her to step into and showcase their talent. Today, she says she has found her true calling in life, and is proving Christopher Hitchens wrong, who proclaimed that women aren't funny after all.
Tell us a little about your journey from a corporate job to stand-up comedy
I was working with an Indian media channel in New York, loathing every minute of it. I reached my breaking point and decided it was time to head back home, in true Bollywood style. I've watched stand-up comedy all my life, even enrolled in comedy classes back in the States. When I came back to Mumbai, the stand-up scene was just taking off, and everyone suggested that I give it a shot.
What makes your act entertaining?
I was your typical fat girl, with a dire need for attention and loving every minute of being on stage. Let's just say maintaining a defense mechanism is my full-time job. Usually, when a fat guy is funny, everyone talks about how he is like a big teddy bear. Not so much with women. So naturally I work harder on my routine, practicing every day in front of the mirror, in my head, and in front of my dad (who also thinks I'm the funniest person on the face of this earth).
What does being funny mean to you?
I come from a family where pulling each other's legs and putting people on the spot is pretty routine. Ours is a family that laughs together (yes, it isn't a Bollywood cliche). So, being funny has always been an important virtue to me. But other than that, laughing is cathartic. Infact it's an exaggeration of all the other emotions, only softening their impact in every way. Humour is a way of life.
According to you, what is the scope for women performers in the country?
I'm done with hearing about women unable to grasp humour. Even nurses and secretaries were men at one point, but things change. Live performances are big in India today, and it's only natural that urban women want to participate. Singer Monica Dogra is one of the best examples. It's an upward climb, but I think we can handle it.
What is your alternate profession?
My profession is in itself alternative. I've been doing voice-overs, acting, and writing. I have worked on the late night comedy show Jay Hind for the past three years, and also performed with Cyrus Broacha on Comedy Central and CNN-IBN.
Your comic inspirations?
Simon Cotter, a permanent fixture at The Comedy Store world over, has come to Mumbai a couple of times and I am convinced he's the funniest man alive. He praises India for 20 minutes and then cracks the routine jokes about the mess on the roads, sex taboos, etc., and makes them sound hilarious. In India, it'll be Sourabh Pant, the writer of Pants on Fire.
Which was your best gig so far?
I've performed in all the metros, and wonders of wonders, even in Hooghly. Me and my fellow Comedy Store comedians once performed for a charity show in Pune, and close to a 1000 people turned up.