Stand-up comedienne Anu Menon on Lola Kutty and the gender divide in comedy
Anu Menon is a Mumbai-based stand-up comedienne. For people who don’t recognise her with this name, think of the bespectacled, Kanjeevaram-clad Kerala woman, with jasmine flowers in her hair and a Malayali accent, who interviewed Bollywood celebrities on an international music television channel. Yes, we’re talking about the popular VJ, Lola Kutty. Although the show doesn’t air anymore, the 36-year-old comedienne says that people continue to identify her as Lola and it’s not always a good feeling. “It’s amusing and I continue to do a few shows as Lola Kutty for corporate events. But there have been times when people walked up to me and said, ‘I can’t wait to see what’s behind the sari.’ You know, like it’s my Draupadi moment,” she confesses.
Anu is one of the first few women comediennes and VJs in the country. Having done about 150 shows, the comedienne feels the way audience react to jokes by male and female artistes is rather different. “When a woman talks about things like her sex life or periods, a large section says it’s unladylike to share such jokes. Nobody opposes when a male comedian shares his masturbation techniques. In fact, when my show is over, people, including women, come and ask me how I maintain my waistline, considering I have a son. Nobody goes to Daniel Fernandez (Mumbai-based comedian) and asks what gel he uses to keep his hair spiky,” she says.
Having spent her childhood in Chennai, Anu moved to Mumbai, after her course in theatre in London, to start her career as an artiste. “I wanted to find a job in television, which will help me fund my theatre job because the latter wouldn’t earn me much,” she says, adding that to bring Lola Kutty on screen was a risk she took without analysing too much. Luckily, it worked in her favour. “When you’re young, you don’t think much before doing a lot of things. Introducing this ‘uncool’ spinster with specs and oily hair was just an idea and it paid off!” shares the artiste.
On another note, a side of Anu that is not known to people is that she is quite the foodie. Her goal is to cook a complete Onam Sadhya one day. “I love Thai, Italian and Kerala food the most. In fact, I got this cookbook for my wedding and I experiment with a few dishes now and then,” she says. Talking about her show, Wonder Menon, in the city, she says, “It’ll be a one-hour special about my journey. I will share jokes about having a half-Gujarati son, marriage and more,” she says.
Tickets: Rs. 499. On February 17, 6.30 pm onwards. At The Fisherman’s Wharf.