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Lavanya Bahuguna

Blogger-in-Chief

Sharul Channa, Singapore’s First Female Comedian, Lets Dead Bodies Of Douchebags Out Of Her Bag

  • IWB Post
  •  September 9, 2019

For the longest time, the world preferred a male voice on the comedy stage. But now, thanks to women like Sharul Channa, who’re slowly becoming the trailblazers in this line, the spotlight is finally on the new heroes. The way women comedians use the real-life instances of chauvinism and boldly speak about political and social issues makes them masters of humor with a cause.

Sharul, who’s originally from India, is Singapore’s first female comedian. IWB talked to the talented stand-up artist about her latest India-tour, her life on stage and behind-the-scenes of the laugh-industry.

What I love doing the most.. #standupcomedy . #sharulchanna #standupcomedy #Singapore #standupscene #merrylion #clubasiacomedy @thecomedyclubsg @themerrylion

64 Likes, 0 Comments – Sharul Channa (@thesharulchanna) on Instagram: “What I love doing the most.. #standupcomedy . #sharulchanna #standupcomedy #Singapore…”

Excerpts below:

Introduce yourself to our readers.

Hello! I was born in Indore, India in 1986 and when I was a month-old, my father was posted to Singapore. And so, the kids were brought up there. My father started working at Holiday Inn Singapore; he is a Northern Indian Chef and was well equipped to set up their new North Indian restaurant.

Having said that, every year we would visit India so that we could stay in touch with our roots and learn how to be “street-smart” as my parents didn’t want us to feel too protected in Singapore. This was my parent’s way of throwing us at the deep end of the pool when the only thing we did was stay at the farm and learn how to milk the cow. So, now when someone is trying to cheat me of money, I just offer them to milk their cow!

How’s life in Singapore after all these years?

It’s efficient, clean, safe and happy. I am married but have no children as yet. I am not sure if we need more kids in the world.

Is there any interesting story behind your first date with fellow comedian-husband, Rishi?

Yes! He asked me out for a date, we took take-away from McDonald’s and sat in his car doing what couples do on first dates. We spoke! Haha.

Happy Birthday, @rishibudhrani . Wishing you all the love,success,happiness and great health. Love you so much. ❤😊 Thanks for being the best a man can be. #sharulchanna #rishibudhrani #birthdayboy #heart #gratitude #grateful #lovelivelife💯

328 Likes, 6 Comments – Sharul Channa (@thesharulchanna) on Instagram: “Happy Birthday, @rishibudhrani . Wishing you all the love,success,happiness and great health. Love…”

What were you doing before becoming a full-time female comedian?

Before stand-up comedy happened to me, I was training myself in theatre at Lasalle College of the Arts. Simultaneously, I was teaching speech and drama to children. I always wanted to be a theatre practitioner but due to the lack of opportunities for brown people, I was forced to buy time and pursue this degree. It all worked out as my Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University at Buffalo further gave me an ability to expand my horizons. I think education helps develop your critical thinking abilities even though you might not professionally pursue a career in it.

Interestingly, after my degree, I was still auditioning for theatre roles when one day, sitting outside the first open-mic in Singapore, I got approached to try a three-minute stand-up gig as there were no women attempting it at that time. After I got the first laugh, I got hooked. It’s been more than eight years now.

In one of the interviews, you mentioned living in a conservative family. Were there struggles choosing your desired career path in the beginning, especially in an Asian set-up?

The major struggle was breaking the set perception about this career choice. Gender roles weren’t really defined in my house mainly because my dad is a Chef, who spent most of his days in the kitchen. Although we, the siblings, were taught that hard work is everything, my parents were actually more worried about the acceptance of this career by society. ‘What if the career itself proved not to be monetarily beneficial’ – they had this particular question in their minds. Like most parents, they, too, thought the world was pretty hostile towards anything theatre and comedy. For them, these careers had a small shelf-life and somewhere, their prediction was the reality.

However, after spending many years in the field, I strongly believe that stand-up comedy is on a rise in Asia. If we ride with the wave, we can help it reach places. For example, there are some art spaces in Singapore that don’t consider stand-up comedy to be an art-form. In this case, it becomes our responsibility to discuss, argue, and educate concerned people on this point.

As Singapore’s first female comedian, did you come across any discrimination in terms of your color, race, gender?

There were fewer opportunities for brown people in the past but not anymore. Racism, sexism, and the glass-ceiling are everywhere, aren’t they? And, Singapore is no exception either! However, having said that, I think Singapore has one of the friendliest stand-up comedy scenes as this culture teaches you to be more inclusive of everything around you. Things are changing as people from different origins are either settling down here or visiting frequently as tourists.

Talking about being a successful stand-up comedian, the only important thing is to be funny. If you are funny, I’ve found that people forget who you are and are only listening to a comic.

As you polished yourself as a stand-up comedian, what else did you ‘stand up’ for in your life?

I often raise the topics of gender equality and women’s rights in my scripts. That’s what I guess I’ve stood up for as an artist. Thanks to Aware, the leading-women organization in Singapore – I was able to write a show about low-income single mothers in Singapore trying to find the means to bring up their children in a developed and expensive nation like Singapore. It deals with the issue of poverty. In fact, I am performing it again this month for a charity organization called Project Smile. This is a dark comedy monologue but since I break the fourth-wall here as well, you can say it’s stand-up, too.

The astrologer had told my mother that I would be working late in the nights to earn a living when I grow up. Let’s just say that she is thankful that I am a stand-up comedian. 📸 : Fiona @shimmers999 #standupcomedy #sharulchanna #gratitude #grateful #lovelivelife💯 #happiness #profession #singapore

94 Likes, 0 Comments – Sharul Channa (@thesharulchanna) on Instagram: “The astrologer had told my mother that I would be working late in the nights to earn a living when…”

On that note, how fun was your gig in India?

Loved every moment of it! Indian audiences are, hands down, one of those most loving and giving audiences ever.

How common is gender-bashing and fat-shaming in the scripts of Western comedians? In India, it’s a common phenomenon.

Gender-bashing and fat-shaming are very deep-rooted in a majority of cultures all across the globe. Fortunately, or unfortunately, our society is always replicated in art. So, when society changes, art also gets transformed. If you think you’re progressive, you must use that talent in your art to educate your audience. This is the only solution. It starts with us taking the responsibility to change the toxic orthodox thinking.

I would suggest to roll the audience in with what they want to see/hear and then teach them what they need to learn without being too preachy. Meanwhile, keep inspiring more women and LGBTQ+ representatives to come into power. Well, we should remain hopeful until global warming doesn’t kill us.

We’ve got some quick questions for you. We only expect funny punches as answers.

Last gift your comedian-husband gave you was?

Space.

What’s your spirit animal, and why?

Cows. They can sit anywhere and chew their food for as long as they want.

What’s written in your CV?

Hire me for 20 minutes and I will make you happy!

They say ‘women can’t have it all.’ Your answer to this is?

Of course, women don’t want it all. Definitely not the expectations put on us.

Your ultimate answer to ‘what’s in your bag’ would be?

The dead bodies of douchebags.

Lastly, if you were to start a cult group, what would be its mission?

My cult-group would be educating men on buying the right-sized underwear so they stop pulling it out of their bums all the time. It is unsightly.

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