When we ask 24-year-old Mumbai-born queer comic Navin Noronha, if he has faced any flack for his LGBT-themed jokes, he admits, “Surprisingly, there have been very few harsh reactions to my set. Most urban audiences come to a comedy show with an open mind and do have some knowledge about the issues faced by the LGBTQIA community. But then there are sceptics too, so I tend to converse with them to get their opinions on the topic. Once, in Mumbai itself, a woman got offended, but she never really made the effort of conveying her thoughts to me. She just blurted out that I am being rude and walked away.”
Tonight, Noronha, along with Nick Pillow (hailing from south coast of England) will perform at an hour-long LGBT-themed stand-up comedy special (touted as India’s first) at The Hive. Titled A Homo’s Odyssey, the show has been curated by Culture Shoq, as a part of its month-long irreverent theme-based comedy fest, The Leftovers. “Besides the two LGBT comedians, the show will also feature a surprise act by a third well-known comic who isn't openly out at the moment,” shares co-founder Sharin Bhatti.
What’s queer about it
Noronha, who recalls being wowed by a joke by Wanda Sykes who said that it’s harder being gay that it is to be African-American, admits, “There is no denying that being gay comes with its own share of problems. Not for you as an individual, but for those around you who cannot comprehend the fact that two people of the same gender can be in love. So, it eventually takes the form of homophobia and that is what we want to tackle through humour.”
Besides references to his own sexuality, the stand-up comic’s set will also include potshots at his own community. “When I write my material, I tend to make it as personal as possible. And I do not want to spare anyone or anything, not even the hypocrisy of the community I am standing up for.”
While the organisers believe that LGBT and queer identity isn’t a touchy subject anymore, they do have a few guidelines — to be original, brave and not to be disrespectful of any person in the audience or their peers. Probe Noronha to let us in one of the jokes from his set, after a cautionary aside (“I hope it isn’t too dark for print”), he goes: “The most common argument that homophobes have is that the gays are trying to brainwash their youngsters and trying to include them in their organisation. And I’m like, ‘Dude, that’s the ISIS. Not us. There is a difference between blowing people and blowing people up.’”
On: Today, 8.30 pm
At: The Hive, 50-A, Huma Mansion, next to Ahmed Bakery, Chuim Village Road, off Union Park, Khar (W).
Cost: Rs 250
Watch three budding female comedians — Pavitra Shetty, Agrima Joshua and Sonali Thakker — disprove the myth that women cannot be funny at the stand-up showcase titled Bitch, Please!
Sonali Thakker. courtesy/The Hive
On: February 27, 8.30 pm
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