Originally published on 10 March 2017.
We caught up with everybody’s favourite stand-up comedian Aditi Mittal in a live Facebook chat on International Women’s Day to talk about work, comedy, sexism, condoms, empowerment awards and more. After some initial technical difficulties we got the call rolling, and Aditi Mittal was, as usual, absolutely on fire. Here are some of the best moments from our interview.
On our initial technical difficulties and starting trouble:
This is what my grandchildren are going to hear about. You know, hamare time pe, internet itna slow hota tha…
On the best piece of work advice she’s ever received:
Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. I think those two are things that we penalise ourselves so strongly for (hehe, penalise). Getting rid of the fear of failure is one of the biggest stepping stones to success. Dealing with failure comes later, first you get rid of the fear of failure. It’s the most solid advice I’ve been given. I mean frankly what’s the worst that can happen? You’re not going to be dead, right?
I think stand-up comedy is one of those fields where your success depends on how many times you fail. You try out a joke for the first time, you might write three pages, but only four jokes out of those three pages will work. But the fear of those jokes that won’t work stop us from getting up on stage and finding the ones that do.
On the dumbest bit of feedback she’s gotten.
Yeh sab band karo, otherwise accha ladka nahi milega. Because the central point of my existence is apparently to find a man. And this was someone who came up to me after a show. They were like, “Good job, very funny beta. But do your parents know you’re doing all this? Accha ladka kaisa milega?” I said, “Please, Uncle I will not propose to you, don’t worry, I will not be hitting on you anytime soon.”
On how she decided to become a stand up comedian.
I’m still not sure this is what I want to do. My mother still thinks I will find a proper job that’s permanently paying and will feed me for the rest of my life. I don’t tell people I do stand up. I tell ridiculous lies. I’m a dupatta designer! A flower collector!
On the hazards of the profession.
Every time someone figures out I’m a stand-up comedian, they immediately say, “Ey, tell joke na?” I tell them to buy a ticket and come to the show.
On sexist jokes.
When I see sexist jokes in my family Whatsapp group, I just say “Chacha, is that really what you think about Chachi?”. But when I see other comedians telling sexist jokes, I think the strongest response to sexist jokes is for me to go up on that very stage and use that very microphone that someone used to tell a sexist joke, and use it tell my side of the story.
On boy-girl relationships
Your whole life you’re separated from the opposite sex, don’t touch, don’t look, don’t talk, okay now go marry a stranger.
On smashing expectations from female comedians.
Bras, sanitary napkins, chaddis, they’re all funny. And people think, “oh female comedian, she will talk about her periods now. She will have a baby now,” and I’m like yeah, why not? I hope for the next 20 years female comics have babies on stage and talk about periods, because I don’t think there’s enough comedy out there that talks about sanitary napkins and chaddis and bras, and it’s time! It’s time for us to be filthy!
On smart condoms that measure velocity and count number of sex positions
First of all, I don’t want a sentient condom! That’s a threesome, not sex. Might as well have a guy in a safari suit there just measuring, one, two, three, seven, thoda huddle maro please. Oh god, that’s horrifying.
On her inspirations in life.
Radhika Vaz, she’s completely run out of fucks to give and now she has no filter. It’s the most delightful thing to be around her at any point of time. I met her and I realised, oh my god, she does not fear anything, this is amazing! There’s also Nidhi Goel, a visually challenged stand-up comedian. I think I admire mad people more than sane people. The more you live out loud, the more I’m in awe of you. Nidhi is one of those people. We’re working on a web series ironically called Bad Girls. Vir Das and I have a great mentor-student relationship with respect to comedy, especially back from the time when no one else was doing this. He’s taught me a lot about the ethics and practice of comedy. And Paromita Vohra! She runs Agents of Ishq, I love her, I want to grow up to be her so badly! Plus the usual, all the Tina Feys and the Amy Poehlers.
On the “woman card”:
My woman card is the card that I use to swipe and get my money so I can spend my cash that I made.
You can watch the full interview here.