From Seinfeld to Russell Peters, stand-up comedy has as a rule been a stage for the privileged. Sure, over the years, people of colour like Peters and Chris Rock, and queer comics like Hannah Gadsby have carved out their own spaces. Closer to home, women like Radhika Vaz and Aditi Mittal are taking over a largely male-dominated comedy scene. Ethnicity, sexuality and gender have found their way into (according to this writer) the otherwise bland environment of wife-and-boss jokes. But have Indian comedy audiences seen the barrier of class being broken?
Well, we know of at least one such instance. That’s right. Domestic worker and jewellery hawker Deepika Mhatre is on the case.
In a delightful five-minute long set, she spills some hot tea on class hierarchies and prejudice, teasing out the idiosyncracies of upper class Indians, among other things. For example, the many illogical ways upper class people ascribe value to things, as well as the standards they set for what upward social mobility looks like to everyone.
Wouldn’t it be great to see more women like Mhatre take the stage? Share their experiences? Make us laugh, especially at ourselves, and, in doing so, begin to see ourselves more clearly?