Anu Vaidyanathan’s job is writing patents, but that has never stopped her from being an artist. Stand-up comic Anu Vaidyanathan is an engineer, and an international triathlete, who became a mum and then a comic and filmmaker.
Vaidyanathan is married to a Punjabi guy and acknowledges that life is not 2 States. It is more like 25 states and the whole United nation thrown in. So, she feels if you allow levity, there is so much laughter around you. Live comedy is what appeals to her. SheThePeople got a chance to catch up with Vaidyanathan and spoke about being a woman comic, a working mother, her upcoming multi-city tour and much more.
Comedy would have happened anyway
Vaidyanathan dabbled with many things before trying comedy. To our question, did motherhood lend itself to comedy? She responded, “Even if the filmmaking or the writing had happened, comedy would have found its way. Parenting lends itself to comedy. You can’t do much because it is so stressful as the complexity in life multiplies, and you work through your cornucopia of stress. You have to deal with it in a very light vein if you want to manage the rest of your life.”
My children are my first audience
Vaidyanathan believes that being an engineer is overrated, and had she not embraced motherhood, this transition of going from something so objective to so subjective wouldn’t have happened. Her children are her first level of testers “because if my idea is rubbish, they will say, Ok, mom stop boring us,” she says.
Before Child: After Diaper (BC: AD)
Anu Vaidyanathan is one of the first Indian women to debut a comedy hour at the fringe. The stand-up comedian has done 45 shows BC: AD in the last year, and she has been professionally doing stand-up comedy. She says, “before and after having children is a very big change in anybody’s life, be it man or woman” She laughs and says, “my mom is a chemistry major, and I am an Engineer. We love routines, but there is no manual for child raising, there is no manual for how to be a good mom and tons of things that life is going to throw at you. So when my mother left me with my baby in my hands, that was the moment I latched on to tell the tale.”
Her mother deeply influences Vaidyanathan. She shares that there never was any pressure on her to choose “engineering” it was what she wanted to do. She says “the freedom at home let me what I rather be, and I always loved engineering.” She agrees that engineering allowed her to thrive as an artist because the world is not particularly kind to artists.
“We love routines, but there is no manual for child raising, there is no manual for how to be a good mom and tons of things that life is going to throw at you.”
It is a great time to be a comic
She has largely played outside of India, like Germany and UK and built up her comic pieces. Vaidyanathan shares that she has gone up on stage mostly as an immigrant woman, so she is not just a female comic. She brings several other layers when she walks up on the stage. She recollects her first set in Hindi and how it was an eye-opener. However, she believes that as a stand-up comic, as a performer, you can control your narrative, which is the beauty of live comedy. You are there to play, and if you can understand what they are after, you can control the room. You have the control to weave through whatever situation you find yourself in you can give it back to them.”
Balancing home and work
Talking about her upcoming tour in which she is going to have 15 stops, she said it was surprising that her stories about motherhood were appreciated by a cross-section of people, not just other mothers. But Vaidyanathan doesn’t like touring, and she says tours are stressful. So, motherhood guilt? She acknowledges that we are in a generation where our spouses/partners are cognizant of a working woman spouse. She says, “the guilt never leaves us even though there are so many things we can do to sustain our aspirations as mothers.” She says in talking to more and more men, she finds that they also have anxiety as new parents, but they deal with it differently. Women are far more expressive about it and take it on themselves. So as mothers, we then handpick what we need to do.”
Suggested Reading: Meet Deepika Mahtre, A Maid-Turned Stand-Up Comedian