“Here To Stay, Whether Meninists Like It Or Not!” : with Saadiya Ali

Aishwarya Shrivastav

This solo-yolo-er, actor and pet mom of two from Chennai participates in mundane conversations for free food, says her tagline on TLC Queens of comedy. For the rest of us, we know her as the super energetic comic with edgy jokes which always hit the spot. Saadiya Ali has come a long way from being your girl next door to being the girl in our hearts!

What’s your comedy origin story?

I’ve always been drawn to the stage. And I’ve also always been slightly nuts. Earlier people used to laugh at me, now some of them laugh at my jokes also so I guess stand up has sort of helped me find that balance. Comedy is essential for everyone and I say so because it has helped and shaped the way I perceive things. So yeah, life was pretty much same before comedy just that now I have more friends. Hahaha!

Why do you think there are such few female comedians?

Because a lot of times women aren’t allowed to be funny. If you go online and look at the comments under a female comic’s video you’ll see so much hate! These men complain about how the comic is cracking jokes on “uterus and vageena, I cant relate!” or how “women will never be funny” and shit like that. I mean, I get you don’t relate to content, then don’t watch, no? We never said our audience was a bunch of testosterone driven men. But I see the scene changing now. Women are stepping up. And we’re here to stay whether “meninists” like it or not.

Describe your creative process.

I rely heavily on personal experiences because sometimes, life itself is a joke. I’ve been told that I tend to pick uncomfortable topics and honestly, this has never been intentional. I just speak about things that I feel like speaking about.

How do you navigate gender norms of this country while being a comedian?

The trick is to break these expectations at a young age. I did my homework with my family and now they never come to me with ridiculous ideas like, hey maybe you should get married! Or be more sanskaari! They don’t say these things because they know how redundant and silly they are. And I am fiercely proud of how my folks have changed the way they think as well.

Your take on comedy while female.

It’s definitely a mix of both, the fact that a woman is speaking and the fact that a woman is talking about things women don’t usually talk about, out in public at least. When I sense the audience getting too distant, I try to crack a few harmless jokes just to get them comfortable again, or I’ll act out something just to change the vibes. I’m glad to be influenced by theatre and improv because under the spotlight its kinda necessary to know how to navigate your set to get the maximum response.

What does the future look like for Saadiya Ali?

I am working on few personal projects which Im hoping will be out soon! I think women are going to make a huge HUGE difference not just in comedy but in pretty much every other field. And I’m really excited because what a time to be alive!

You can follow Ali here!

Aishwarya Shrivastav

About our writer: Aishwarya Shrivastav is a history graduate from University of Delhi. A spoken word poet, she likes to describe herself as a woman taking up more space than she was allotted by the society. Raging through words.