Ladies Up Review: Three Thumbs Down

2.0 rating based on 1,234 ratings

Where it wins the 2 Stars

I give the special 3 stars, but that’s coming a lot from someone who doesn’t laugh easily. Ladies Special had all the hype about it—but lacked a certain all-round charm. It starts with Prashasti Singh going up on the mic and cracking jokes that I’ve never heard of before. I’ve heard the Bombay jokes, the Delhi jokes, the Bombay v/s Delhi jokes, the Chennai jokes, but I have never heard the UP jokes. She was funny, the material felt fresh, and comedy seemed to come naturally to her. I found myself laughing quite a bit, before she began talking about topics that are overdone: dating and sex. But it’s fine, I told myself, because she says the same stories with a unique twist.

Then Kaneez Surka went up, and this she seemed to really enjoy herself. It’s obvious that she loves performing, that she goes up on stage to make the audience laugh, but also to have a good time herself. Her jokes were new, bold, talked about casual racism and sexism in a subtle, not-in-your-face way. Until, of course, she too brought up dating and sex. But that was fine too, because she made me laugh with her stories about NRIs, divorce, and sexual fetishes.

Where it loses the 3 stars

Unfortunately, by the time I watched the last two performers, Supriya Joshi and Niveditha Prakasam, I was all out of giggles. All that I could offer was a snort here, and release of air there. It felt more like I was practicing Anuloma-Viloma, rather than watching comedy. The jokes were repetitive and didn’t land—fat jokes, North Indians v/s South Indians and, of course, sex and dating. Except this time, the stories on sex and dating didn’t feel like stories; they felt like carefully tailored jokes. The energy was low, audience interaction was either less or forced, and they simply couldn’t hold my attention.

While I understand that comedy was a rather male-dominated field for too long, and Ladies Special isn’t just for girls, I still find a female-only event to be counterintuitive. Ladies Special feels like a Ladies Compartment: bursting at the seams with potential, but unable to reach the level-playing field of the general compartment. In other words, segregating women off to their own corner, giving them their own special, doesn’t have much value. Neither does milking the same sex, dating, North v/s South Indian jokes. We want to laugh about something else, now.

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