(Dis)abled and funny

Updated: Dec 04, 2019, 09:22 IST | Ritu Ailani | Mumbai

A comedy show in Andheri featuring differently-abled artist Sweta Mantrii, will normalise conversations around disability

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What is disability? Should people with disabilities be called disabled or differently-abled? What makes their stories stand out? Why do we look at them for inspiration? Do they need our sympathy or do they want us to be empathetic? Can a disability stop you from leading a regular life and aspiring for more? Can you date someone with a disability? Should you? Why are people with disabilities discriminated against?

When a topic like this is broached, we realise that there is so little we know. Either the subject is made to sound too serious or it has been marginalised by those who don’t have a first-hand experience with people with disabilities (PWD). As a result, all we are left with is a general lack of awareness and indifference.

However, Sweta Mantrii, an MBA graduate and writer, who is also a disability rights activist, decided to change that perception. She jokes that she stumbled upon stand-up comedy recently, like all the other things she stumbles upon while walking. Now, she uses the medium to make lighthearted jokes about what people with disabilities experience on a daily basis. Her disability is her superpower, as she observes that her crutches suddenly turn cab drivers into extra nice people and scare children away.

In her upcoming show, With this Ability, Mantrii attempts to break the psychological barriers and biases against PWD and engages people in meaningful conversation about it. “I’ve been doing comedy for two years now; initially, people would pull back if I was too direct and honest. Over time, I have developed a technique. I make my audience feel comfortable before delving into darker subjects” Mantrii shares.

Her jokes are cool and candid, such that they immediately make the audience switch from feeling awkward and pitiful to viewing her as a potential friend who is relatable, quirky and effortlessly funny. For instance, in one of her previous shows, she started off by stating — with a poker-straight face — that she gets invited to perform a 10-minute long stand-up set but it takes her five minutes to settle down, which, as one can imagine, completely broke the ice and released the tension in the room.

On December 8, 8 pm
At Redbrick Offices, Kaledonia, first floor, Sahar Road, Navpada, Andheri East.
Log on to insider.in
Cost Rs 250

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