She’s 26. A stand-up comedian. A writer. An actress. A teacher. But more than anything else, Aditi Mittal is fun. So. Much. Fun. The Mumbai-based stand-up comedian turned the Ladies Night show presented by Kalkutta Komedians from blah to wow at GD Birla Sabhagar on Friday. A chat:
Were you always this funny?
I was always bizarre. Normally, the role of class clown is taken over by guys but I was in this all-chick school. So I was like someone’s gotta bring on the dumbassary here. Someone’s gotta be idiotic in class. That was me. When I meet school friends now, they’re like, ‘Hiiieee Aditi! What else did you think you could become?’ And I’m like, ‘This is quite insulting but thank you.’
Did you have to convince your parents that stand-up comedy is a real career?
They still don’t think it is. They are convinced I’m going to get a real job some day.
You said you teach. Do your students take you seriously?
A lot of them will come for my show and arrive late in class and say, ‘But ma’am, we came for your show!’ And I’m like, ‘Just shut up. And get out of my class RIGHT NOW.’
Stand-up comedy is a nascent industry in India. Is the audience funny and forgiving?
There’s been a marked change in the urban attitude. People like us are not getting shot for saying what we’re saying. Thank god the Indian audience claps generously, appreciates jokes or well-crafted lines. They’re not 100 per cent sure of what to expect and we love that!
Well, they couldn’t stop laughing at your sanitary napkin act!
What’s it with Indian women and the euphemisms for periods? Someone told me that day, ‘Tera MC parade chal raha hai kya?’ And I was like, ‘Parade? Where?’ Then I realised MC was like Menstrual Cycle! There’s also chums, which is a personal favourite. ‘We’re like friends. We’re just chilling with our chums!’ Whatever!
What happens when people make a deal about a girl being a stand-up comedian?
This discontinuing dialogue of women can’t be, women can’t do this, women can’t do thatů it’s just unfair. You don’t want to feel like a special monkey because you’re doing what only men do. Just because I’ve got different things in my pants doesn’t mean I’m less funny.
What would you do on Snapchat?
I don’t have anyone to flash my boobs to.
Where can one pursue stand-up comedy in India?
Right now there’s no official outlet for teaching. It’s a fledgling industry, so it’s mostly workshop-based. I hold workshops, so do All India Bakchod and The East India Co.medy, which has a Cheer Festival coming up where comedian Sorabh Pant will be teaching kids stand-up.
What do you do when you’re not making people laugh?
Trying to make people laugh!
Finally, how do you feel at the end of a good show?
I feel damn lucky that my defence mechanism is my job. At the end of the day, you’re going from stage to stage, making people laugh. Nothing else makes you feel better. Not even the comfort of a constant pay cheque.
On meeting legendary comedian Bill Cosby:
I had no idea we were going to! It was in LA during a TV show called Stand Up Planet. We went to someone’s house and there’s this guy sitting in ganjee, you know, that inner ganjee, and track pants. And so I’m looking at him and I’m like, ‘That’s f***ing Bill Cosby.’ Bill Cosby is 87 years old. He’s 6ft-something tall. And he turned around and started interrogating us. We got our minds blown. He asked us things like, ‘When’s the first time you did comedy? How embarrassed did you feel when your jokes bombed?’ Then he asked me, ‘Are you married yet?’ And I’m like, ‘Noooo.’ Then, he went, ‘Aaah, nice boyfriend?’ And I’m like, ‘Noooo’. He’s like ‘Yah, you won’t.’ And I’m like ‘What? That’s horrible!’ ‘No, no, no you will be too pretty and too intimidating for half the men out there.’ And I just sat there shrinking into a ball of overexcitement.
That meeting made me realise how much of stand-up comedy is about attitude. The fact that now you are here, someone has paid you money and they didn’t come here to have a f***-all evening. They’re here to have a good time and it’s your responsibility. So no matter how shitty you’re feeling, your dog has died, your cat is dying, your man has left you, you roll up your sleeves and you go to work.