If you are a lover of great comedy mixed with a dash of intellect in it, you would know who Sumukhi Suresh is. Her Behti Naak series on YouTube is the kind of comedy that’s progressive, issue-based and yet tickles your funnybone. Basically, Sumukhi is the master of deadpan humour. Her style of comedy shows that there is a lot more in it beyond cross-dressing and stereotyping which is usually the case with comedy today.
One of the best comedians out there, Sumukhi grew up in Nagpur and studied Home Science for a year after school in 2005. “It is safe to say that I was not the best at that!” Sumukhi told SheThePeople.TV.
She then discontinued that and moved to Chennai to study Food Science. Three glorious years later, she moved to Bangalore in 2009 to work. She tells us that her first job was as a librarian at a children’s library. Then she moved on to work as a chef at ITC Royal Gardenia.
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Sumukhi quite liked her work but telling jokes and making people laugh was always her personality so she gave a shot to improv comedy and 2013 was when she first performed it in front of a crowd. “It was more to distract myself but a year down the road, I started doing more improv shows. By Nov 2015, I was doing sketch and stand-up comedy as well. And during the same time, I quit my day job and took up Comedy as a full time profession,” said Sumukhi as a matter-of-factly.
If you ask her why? She will say, “why not! I want to see if I put my all to comedy, how things work out for me!”
Before starting Behti Naak, Sumukhi was a part of an acclaimed comedy web series called Better Life Foundation where she played a sensible character who is the only responsible person in the NGO that genuinely wants to help the underprivileged. The series is by a Bangalore-based comedy collective and Youtube channel, Them Boxer Shorts.
She tells us how her famous Behti Naak series happened, “I was just improv-ing and fooling around as that character during the shoot of Better Life Foundation. I remember Kanan suggested that I should make something with this character. A simple suggestion lead me to writing a few episodes of it.”
She added, “I just wanted to do a character of a kid who isn’t all pink and blue but is obnoxious. We all know kids are very honest in their reaction, they don’t have filters. So I escalated that trait!”
I just wanted to do a character of a kid who isn’t all pink and blue but is obnoxious – Sumukhi on “Behti Naak”
As the content of Behti Naak is issue-based mostly talking about America being the superpower, homophobia, women’s issues, etc, but is it really a conscious effort she says, “To be honest, I don’t write the script to educate the viewers. I write and perform to have fun with the character and to make sure I stick to the reality of Behti Naak as a character.
“Apart from the wife/ girlfriend, mother and maid, there are so many other roles women can play and I hoping to write as many for myself since others are not”
So what were the challenges the comedian faced while starting out as it is still new as a profession and her being a female in the industry, did she face any gender bias? She tells us, “I don’t think I am a female comedian, I am a comedian with different set of hormones. On top of the challenges all comics face anyway, I think there are times when a joke doesn’t land well from me. You don’t want to blame it on anything but yourself but there have been instances where I can’t help but notice that it’s a gender thing. Hopefully, with more number of comics who are female, this will change!”
Since comedy just like any other genre is also male-dominated, Sumukhi felt a bit shy and overwhelmed to perform in the beginning. But she contends that, “To be honest most of the comics in the profession are absolutely supportive and are helpful and the number of women in comedy is increasing so that’s great news!”
“Even if feminism is misunderstood by some men and women we should focus on its right meaning and stick to it. The more we digress the more number of people will get confused and not want to accept being one”
Sumukhi is a self-proclaimed feminist and she does a lot of work around it. She recently did a funny video about “The Recipe of a Feminist” which was quite hilarious and everyone out there must check it out.
So, Sumukhi tells us what she thinks about the term and the people who say “oh but I am not the feminist kind”. “I feel sad for them because they haven’t understood feminism and that it’s a simple concept. Even if it is misunderstood by some men and women we should focus on its right meaning and stick to it. The more we digress the more number of people will get confused and not want to accept being one.”
The last year for the comedian was quite a hit with Behti Naak, Better Life Foundation and starting her solo stand-up “Disgust Me” but she is of the view that it is still a long way to go.
Sumukhi’s favourites in comedy are Tina Fey, Ellen DeGeneres, Kirsten Wig. “I have always had a blast to work with Kaneez Surka and wait for the day when I will be cast with Nidhi Bisht,” she said.