In her one-woman show Unladylike: The Pitfalls of Propriety, comedian Radhika Vaz tackles subjects like “proper” female behavior, modern relationships, and the ubiquity of bikini waxes. Having recently returned from touring India, Vaz will be performing Unladylike at the The Producers Club in New York City on Friday, December 9 (more details below). I recently had the chance to ask her a few questions about the show.
What inspired you to write Unladylike?
I had been doing improv for a really long time and then I started writing monologues. I always wanted to do a one-hour show on my own for a few reasons. I was auditioning for parts and wasn’t getting anything. You know, I am practically 40. I am Indian with an Indian accent, I’m not even an Indian with an American accent, so I wasn’t fitting into any of the roles. Writing the show was what really pushed me out there.
Stories about your husband and family often appear in your work. Have any of your relatives ever told you that something was off-limits?
No, they haven’t. I definitely do believe that I have to at least show them the piece before I post it to my blog. Most of my pieces start out on the blog, I usually post it before it is performed.
I remember I posted something once and my husband was like, “You really should have shown me this before you posted.” If it is something related something like alcohol abuse or anything embarrassing, I show it to them. When writing about my friends I change names a lot.
Do you consider Unladylike to be a feminist show?
I hope it is. I am certainly not the first person to talk about these things, but I definitely hope that people look at it that way. To elaborate a little bit, I definitely think that I speak a lot about the wide disparity in the way that men and women are viewed.
You took Unladylike to India this fall. What was that like? Did you have to change the show in any way?
No, I performed the same material I had performed in New York a year ago. A lot of people have asked me if I changed anything before performing in India. I was raised in India, in Bombay, and I moved here when I was 28. A lot of my college friends came to the Bombay show and one of the girls came up to me afterwards and said, “the things that you talked about, they still happen here today.” And that was both funny and a little bit discouraging.
Did anything surprise you about performing the show in India?
I think that with any show of this nature, I was just very relieved I pulled the crowd that I did. Comedy is still very new in India and most of the comedians are men. I wasn’t sure how it would work.
Lastly, you write a lot about female grooming and your routine on bikini waxes in particular seems to have struck a chord with a lot of people. Why do you think that is? And on a scale of 1 to 10, how evil are bikini waxes?
They are at 10, pretty much. They represent everything that’s wrong with the culture. I mean, that’s the last f—ing place, you know? That’s probably why everybody responds to the piece. Look, I get them from time to time, and I have friends who get them all of the time. But it’s in that weird category like plastic surgery, that everyone has to fit in the same box.
Tickets to see Unladylike can be purchased online at www.unladylike.eventbrite.com. Sepia Mutiny readers can enter the discount code MOUSETRAP to receive a $5 discount off of the online price. You can also follow her on Twitter @radvaz, become a fan of her official Facebook page, or check out her official website radvaz.com.
Photo credit: Katarina Kojic Photography and Design.