Being on stage is the love of my life, says Anuradha Menon

The Asian Age.  | Ruth Prarthana

Entertainment, TV

Anuradha Menon talks about her love for theatre, the craft of writing a set, the art of being vulnerable on stage and yet having a laugh at it.

Anuradha Menon

Anuradha Menon is a stand-up comedienne known for her jokes based on personal experiences. In a chat with us, she talks about her life, comedy and more.

Growing up Anu (as she is called)  was  a quiet and hardworking child. It was only at the age of 14 that her teacher heard her speak during a play. “We rented out videos of the Bill Cosby show and watched it as a family. I also saw other shows like Who’s the Boss and Full House. But it was only in my teens that I started watching stand-up comedy.”

Majoring in Drama from London, the initial idea was to come back and get a job in television. She adds, “I did this to support my theatre habits. Being on stage is the love of my life. But the truth is one can’t earn a living by doing theatre. Initially, I never thought of doing stand-up as an option until it became one.”

It was only when her son turned two that she got to do stand-up. She says, “When I write down sets I don’t know if people will find it funny and appreciate it. Every show is different, one should be ready to deal with days when some shows receive love while others don’t.  It’s sort of the art of being vulnerable on stage and yet having a laugh at it.”

On who inspires her she says, “I love Joan Rivers.  The fact that she was 80 and doing a stand-up comedy show was really great. She was sarcastic, vocal and witty while hosting The Tonight Show.”

Anu  respects people with an opinion. She may not agree with your opinion but it is important to have one.

This South-Indian girl never had the pressure to become a doctor or an engineer or a lawyer. “My mother was very encouraging and gave me her go ahead very soon. Stand-up comedy is just an expansion of what I do and not the only thing I do and I think this makes it more exciting.”

Recalling her first time on stage she says, “It was a school play that I had co-written with a friend. I played a coy character and was really blown away by the response and laughter I got from the audience,” she adds.

Anu never had to deal with a hostile crowd but she did encounter a a dead audience. “They thought brick-laying and kitchen fittings more hilarious than my jokes,” she laughs.

Anu feels that while working on a particular set it is important to give it time. She adds, “Write a set, walk away, then come back and see if anything from what you have written strikes you. People told me to be more proactive and my only answer to them is not to put pressure of the entire gender on me.”

This mother of a five-year-old feels that there is a lot of assumptions made about things women talk about in stand-up comedy shows. “People think women talk only about those so called womanly stuff but it’s not true at all. There are different people with different voices and different take on things,” she adds.