“It’s really hard to be a stand-up comedian in Gujarat because you’re always competing with food on one side and a joke on the other. Whereas in Bangalore people are already stuffed alcohol and it’s all funny anyway,” Shefali says. Pandey, co-founder of Mahila Manch who is presenting The Ma Behen Show, a stand-up comedy show, in Bangalore this weekend. The show explores themes of feminism, gender politics, marital rape and female sexuality.
Preeti Das, a former journalist and co-founder of Mahila Manch, says most comedic content is about men bashing women, talking about stereotypical notions of romance, body types and skin color. Mahila Manch was trained to counter this kind of comedy. It started as a show in a friend’s living room and the audience was of all ages, from children to grandparents. The show covered topics ranging from premarital sex to marital rape. One of the band members remembers how someone in the audience said to them, “You are doing something that future generations will thank you for.
What began as a collective of comedians and stand-up artists, Mahila Manch gradually gained popularity for her monthly comedy show, The Period Show, which covered topics such as LGBTQ issues, rape, identity, female sexuality and body shame.
Mahila Manch is keen to create an alternative voice and aims to become a platform that advocates for change and discusses topics considered taboo.
Mahila Manch performs in Benguluru on May 22 at Lahey Lahey, Kodihalli and Just Blr, Brigade Road