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‘You’re funny for a woman,’ time to say good-bye to this notion for we finally have Poornima Toprani taking over the female comedy scene and how!
If you are someone who watches a lot of comedy shows and stand-ups, I am sure you must have noticed there isn’t a lot of variety in the people we see. We are usually met with good looking men with an Engineering degree who quit their nine to five job to pursue their passion. It is definitely admirable what these men do. But I have never seen anyone ask, why aren’t there too many women in comedy?
I recently had a chat with comedian Poornima Toprani and she told me how she took up the space in comedy which is often left blank. She presents a wider perspective in that field. A mother, daughter, wife and a daughter-in-law, she may not be a millennial but when she’s on stage, she won’t make you feel that!
“I watched a lot of stand-up and that’s when I sensed that being a middle-aged woman, there is no one doing any stand-up. And my whole life revolves around being a daughter, being a mother and being a wife but it wasn’t reflected in any of these videos.
“Also I found that there was no woman in my age group. There are lot of comics who are way younger, most of them are single and they are rabid feminists. And there is nothing wrong with that, it’s just that there’s no one in this married family space who finds humour in everyday life. I am here to do the wo-mann ki baat”
Her stint with comedy began six months ago when she decided to try her hand at stand-up. She says she’s always been funny but held herself back due to her lack of confidence when one day something clicked. That was when she finally mustered enough courage to go on stage. And since then, there has been no going back for Poornima.
It was her social media activity that led her to the discovery of her hidden passion for comedy and once that happened, there was no stopping her. Her followers interacted with her through her posts, encouraged her to do more of what she does and supporting her through everything.
She says, “The thing is I have always been active on social media especially on Facebook and Twitter- putting up humorous one liner every day. And slowly I realised that maybe I do have a funny bone in my body. The stand-up comedy scene was booming so I decided to go on one of the open mikes.
Because I put out my stuff on social media, I’d get great responses from friends and people would say that they looked forward to logging in and seeing my thoughts on something. So, all these things encouraged me.”
Her first trial wasn’t met with the kind of support that she would’ve liked. And her experiences led her to believe that she might not be able to do it, after all. But it was because of the support she received from her husband and daughters that she regained her confidence and decided to give it another try.
She hasn’t slowed down since, “When you cross a certain age, there’s a spark. And after that, you stop caring what people would think or what would they say. So I thought if I go on the stage, they are either going to laugh at me or laugh at my jokes, either way I’ve got nothing to lose.”
Poornima wears her various hats with pride. She is also a creative director for movies. When asked if she would choose movies or comedy she said she can’t possibly choose.
“I have not reached a point in comedy that it would take up my whole day, so it’s just an evening job for a few hours. But movies take up a long time and it requires a lot of people,” Poornima says.
She says both the experiences are completely different. With comedy, she has instant gratification which is not how it works with movies. They are two different things she loves and choosing would be a difficult task for her since she enjoys them both equally.
For someone who rose really fast into the scene, Poornima knows where she comes from and what she stands on. She advises people, looking to join the scene to go for it since they have a lot to gain and practically nothing to lose. There is no dearth of audience in any language and no matter which one they choose, they should just go for it!
“When I started, I was also scared because there was nobody in my age group. It was weird because the crowd was young and whether people would connect with it was a major scare.
“But then I did a Mother’s Day show, and the other girls were cracking jokes on their moms. And I was cracking jokes on my kids and my whole set was on motherhood. So I realised for whatever kind of humour there is an audience, and if your jokes are good then you will create an audience,” she said.
It is important for people like Poornima to take up the stage because one has to realise that there are people who are interested in comedy. However, they can’t relate to the material out there because it’s rarely relatable to them.
How many times have we sent videos that we like to our parents and our parents have failed to find it funny? That’s where people like Poornima come in. She makes jokes about the things that mothers go through with their kids on a daily basis.
Funny, witty and wonderful, Poornima is performing for you all at the Orange Flower Festival 2020 in Mumbai on 25th January.
Orange Flower Festival 2020 is the annual event brought to you by Women’s Web. An event where women come together and roar for a change and have a ton of fun with it. A daylong fest in Mumbai, our speaker list is amazing, with men and women who’re wonderful as they are great!
What’s more, we have a poetry slam, a comic performance and an art installation too! Why wait when you can book your tickets right here?
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