Radhika Vaz: Older, Angrier, Hairier | Gig review by Steve Bennett at Soho Theatre, London
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Radhika Vaz: Older, Angrier, Hairier

Gig review by Steve Bennett at Soho Theatre, London

Indian comic Radhika Vaz seeks to take issue with a lot of society’s presumptions, particularly in relation to the different expectations demanded of men and women. It’s a worthy ideal, but also means a lot of her comedy is based in those supposed differences between the genders, and gives a dated feel to the material behind the woke message.

So it’s jokes about men being pigs in the bathroom, while women try to pretend they never defecate. Meanwhile, women do all the housework lest they be considered slovenly. She makes the point of a double-standard, but the substance of the material is in repeating the stereotypical behaviour.

She certainly proves equality in one sense: all the talk about her vagina, possibly intended to shock or chip away at a taboo, proves equally as unexciting as a mediocre male comic talking about his dick.

Similarly, she’s outspoken about being a porn addict – probably nothing a respectable Indian wife is supposed to do, yet, as she tells us, the nation’s women are the world’s second biggest consumers of online pornography. As a devotee, her comments on this extend to how the women don’t have bushy pubic hair any more, a tired, hack observation. Equally every man is portrayed as being obsessed with anal, another hoary comedy convention. But #notallmen.

On the real use of that hashtag, she derides those who suspect it will lead to the end of flirtation, making a distinction between romance and unwanted attention with a decent joke, but not one that recognises any subtleties of the situation.

Much of her material about the expectations that fall on women regard motherhood, that somehow she’s considered to have failed her gender by failing to procreate. She’s certainly a child-hater, expressing impatience with having to entertain them, while arguing that ‘having it all’ is a myth, certainly when her definition of all includes £5,000 handbags and a second home in the country…

That pressure to reprodue is fading, though, as this 45-year-old describes going through the menopause, amid a flurry of observations about ageing: the lightheadness she gets when she sits up too quickly and he way her bones creek when she tries to get into a sexual position. Then there’s the pressure to look young – and yes she does consider vaginoplasty to save the sagging 

There are lots of ‘hmm, that’s true’s here, but few revelations that you might not have considered before. 

Much of this also feels more like the output of an essayist or a columnist than a more conversational stand-up. There’s a touch of American storyteller David Sedaris to her technique, even if the content is more generic and simplistic that the master raconteur. 

Her arguments are robustly  laid out and with witty turns of phrase but few thigh-slapping jokes. And she delivers with confidence, even if slightly detached from the audience. 

In her favour are a malleable face, useful for acting out her incredulity, and a practised physically to dramatically emphasise the delivery. Her well-spoken voice, complete with long-rolling Rs, give an elegant authority to the set-ups, while sing-song payoffs emphasise the laughs point.

But while feminism is front and centre of today’s comedy scene, Vaz feels very much among the crowded ranks, not in the vanguard. 

Review date: 26 Sep 2018
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Soho Theatre

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