Anu Menon aka Lola Kutty talks about how she is using stand-up comedy to carve out a new identity
Anu Menon, aka Lola Kutty, is using her stand-up act to carve out a new identity - that of a mother-wife-career woman, all in one
At a time when music channels were still cool, there was a character called Lola Kutty - a bespectacled, Kanjeevaram-clad Mallu girl, with jasmine flowers in her hair, who interviewed Bollywood celebrities. If her accent didn't make you laugh, her astute and hilarious observations did. "I think at my stand-up shows, people are either thrilled to know I am nothing like Lola, or very disappointed. They come up to me, and looking puzzled say, 'you are really pretty', or they say, 'I really like Lola, but you are good too'," laughs comedienne Anu Menon, who has got used to living in the shadow of her character.
These days, the 36-year-old is busy with performances of Wonder Menon, "obviously meant to be a pun on Wonder Woman, which I so am not". Her son is now five, and Menon who is married to a marine engineer, says that she now finally has time to travel and be more proactive about her career. "I am a theatre actor, so the stage is my home. It's also the reason my material is usually in story format. I talk about marriage and parenting. For example, I did a whole set on how it was to get my son into school. And I am not a helicopter mom, who knows where the best organic cookies can come from. I am also the only curly-haired-Malyalee married-to-a-Gujarati comic, so my perspective on everything is different," she tells us on the eve of the Mumbai show at Hard Rock Cafe.
We are talking about the American show The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, about a female comic in the New York of the '50s, and how she uses her every-day situations to make people laugh. "I love that show, and it resonates - people still want women comics to behave in a certain way. When a male comic makes fun of his child, it's cute. When I do it, it's not 'mother-like'. But I say, 'to buy material goods for my son, I can make material out of him'," she laughs.
Menon recalls a show in Chennai, her hometown, where members from the audience came up to her husband and expressed their sympathy. "They were like, 'Oh my god, she makes so much fun of you', 'more power to you'." Menon was 22 when she played Lola, and ever since, the comedy world has created its own extremely successful niche. "I am not completely embedded in it. But it's really blown up. There are veritable options, and huger competition. It's also a much difficult space to make your mark in now. You just have to follow the truth of comedy - tell the truth, and do it a way only you can."
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