Are women funny? At the first edition of SheThePeople.TV’s Bangalore Rani held at Atta Galatta last week, authors Andaleeb Wajid and Rachna Singh dissected the existence or the lack of the funny bone among women authors. Moderated by Sunayana Roy editor, blogger and content professional, the discussion explored all facets of humour, the droll, the hilarious, the wry, the ironic and the subtle undertones of humour that characterise Bangaloreans.

A veteran author, Andaleeb has written over 13 books, the more famous amongst them being More Than Just Biryani, Asmara’s Summer and The Crunch Factor. Set with varying themes, she has explored YA, Horror, romance and sci-fi in her books. Her writing has an undercurrent of drollness in some parts, which adds nuance. Rachna has a day job in HR and has written the wonderfully laugh out loud book, Band Bajaa and Boys.

As a category, humour has always been the dominion of men. From stand-up to acting to writing, men have been the vanguards of the humour banner, with women have often just been expected to provide the adoring background laughter to masculine humour.

But things are changing, and not too soon. We have women doing fabulous stand up, and women writing humour and doing so exceedingly adeptly.

Why do they write humour

“When I write Humour or my latest found love the Horror genre, I write from an angle that this is something I would love to read. Something that I would like to enjoy reading and writing as well. So you can say I, more or less, write for myself,” replies Andaleeb when asked about what informs her writing, and the choosing of a narrative style. Rachna, on the other hand, has a different approach. She says, “My humour comes from a darker place, I write from the pain one has experienced. I present issues that are actually distressing, but do so through humour. If I am able to use my talent to share all those pains, all those emotions, I would keep doing it all my life,”

READ: Unfunny stories of funny women: Why comedy lacks enough female talent

She further added, “The stories I write act as a buffer between people and pain. And, finding a path of humour in between those lines is my biggest motivation. When a young girl came up to me saying she likes my books and reads them every now and then, I realized maybe our intended readers morph into something bigger or different than we know of.”

As writers, they find attention to humour in writing is sadly missing. “When I doll up and post pictures online, positive comments pour in. But the minute I update something funny, no one is even interested in liking it. It’s hard to catch attention as a woman writer,” says Rachna.

Does Bangalore have a specific sense of humour intrinsic to the city?

Paradoxically both authors had different takes on whether Bangalore had a specific style of humour that embodied the city. While Andaleeb Wajid claimed “Bangalore is too cosmopolitan to have a specific brand of humour,” Rachna reacted stating, “Bangalore has a specific droll deadpan sense of humour.”

Who do they write for, themselves or an audience? 

“The idea is that whatever you write must resonate with yourself and the reader. The number doesn’t matter. When at the end of the day, somebody comes to me praising my writing, telling me that I have been able to take away the sadness in them, even if for a few hours, that’s hugely rewarding,” Rachna states. Both authors spoke about the elitism with which women writing humour are received. “There is a resistance to being seen reading a funny or a chicklit novel,” says Rachna. “Most people say ‘Oh I don’t read chicklit,” in a very deprecatory way,” adds Andaleeb.

Also Read: Kenny Sebastian On How Feminist Comedy Can Break Taboos

“For me, I don’t consistently think about comedy when writing humour. If a funny thing happens it happens naturally. I don’t consciously set out to make people laugh. The story, a tight plot line, are the main factors and if in between a funny line comes up that I would like to call as ‘icing on the cake’,” Andaleeb claims.

“Humour, for a long time, has been used as something that you say directly that may offend or make people laugh and happy, plus it also could be a huge medium to send out message across. And, that’s where my endeavour lies,” Rachna concludes.

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