Are our male stand-up comics failing to make women laugh? Here's an analysis

Fewer women watch online stand-up comedy videos, but that is no reason to assert for the skewed ratio of female stand-up comics as opposed to men.

Stand-up comedy in India has been dominated by the boys club for quite some time now and while some women are trying to break through the clutter most of their peers or members of the audience tend to tell them that they are “not funny enough” to make the cut. While men are found funny, women comic artists are called ‘bold’ and ‘over the line’.

When film critic Anupama Chopra recently had a discussion on ‘sexism in the comedy industry,’ social media began questioning the roots of the argument in the Indian comic scenario. The fact that Aditi Mittal was hardly allowed to speak during the roundtable discussion, with Anupama Chopra choosing a 1 woman to 5 men ratio, the entire point of the debate on sexism fell face forwards on the male-dominated stage.

When Biswa Kalyan Rath took to social media announcing that he was going to be one of the 14 stand-up comedians with a comedy special for Amazon Prime Video, he forgot to mention that not one of them was a girl. His followers were quick to point that out. Did Amazon not find a single funny female comedian who could make that cut? Another stand-up comedian, Vipul Goyal, said that it was a deal between Amazon Prime and OML, and has nothing to do with the fact that there are women or men. Enter Biswa, who added that it is “a situational outcome” and also owed it to “female comics not having an hour of material”.

Questions were also raised whether women stand-up comics are commercially viable. However, Tanmay Bhatt of AIB fame told Anupama that someone needs to sit people down and explain how it makes monetary senses for the others to invest in female comics. Tanmay said, “It makes business sense to have more women doing stand-up. So many more people will then come and watch stand-up, so many more people will then consume stand-up comedy.” Perhaps if they mainstreamed more female narratives in comedy, perhaps if people invested and saw the worth of female-centric content, there could be a chance of it becoming a reality.

Rajneesh Kapoor is a stand-up comedian, the creator of the daily comic strip ‘This is our Life’. the Delhi-based stand-up comedian, who performs “clean comedy”, decided to express his views on the sexism debate.

To which the female stand-up comic, Radhika Vaz, known for her book “Unladylike”, said:

What may be perceived from these tweets is that fewer women watch stand-up comedy, and when they do, it is usually a female comic. While this is only a deduction of the given stats by the comedians, there is some truth to learn from the way women are consuming the net or are not consuming the net.

InUth reached out to Rajneesh and based on the Google Analytics of his own Stand-up YouTube video, he said:

Take my latest comedy special ‘I love Indian English’ is gender neutral and when I was preparing for it I believed that both men and women will be able to relate to it. I look at YouTube to see where the hits are coming from and I am dissapointed. If I see the hits from outside India, say from the UK, the ratio is obviously better. Even in a comedy club when you are performing, the men outweigh the women.

A lot of male comics have more often than not had a fan girl base dying for their next video to be out. Based on this very notion, Rajneesh says:

For Kenny Sebastian or Kannan Gill the numbers maybe different because of their female fan base, but only slightly so.

In a research done on YouTube statistics, it was found that the out of all the users in India, 62% are male and only 38% are female. It was also stated that men spend 60% more time on the internet than women. Loosely translated, this means that not only are there more men than women, but there are more men online, consuming the internet and watching videos.

Here are some interesting stats from The Male Dominated World of YouTube India for The Viral Fever and All India Bakchod. While TVF is one of the first YouTube channels to join the 1 million club of subscribers  AIB is one of the most popular youtube channels in India. Judging by the Male: Female ratio, the pulse of the issue becomes quite evident.

DEMOGRAPHY: FEMALE – 12.56% MALE – 87.26%



DEMOGRAPHY: FEMALE – 10.21% MALE – 89.6%


From the bro-code between the big players who dominate the online video game in India to the disproportionate representation of female comics, there are several allegations against the male comics at large.

The only reason why sexism in the industry exists is because of idiots in the industry. I have seen women quitting the enterprise altogether after being shot down by their male peers. The bro-code is for real. They make it impossible for a new female comic to breakthrough. Not a single female comic from Delhi has ever made it beyond Open Mics. It is impossible for me to believe women are not funny.

Radhika Vaz, on the other hand, has a different view of sexism in the industry

Sexism exists in comedy, just like it exists in any other industry. We have to admit to ourselves that India is an inheently sexist country. It is all about content. Even women are so used to consumng male-centric content, that they take a while to get used to content meant for women alone. Sexist men and women have raised sexist comedians, who make the industry sexist. It is that simple. Accessibility to the internet is one large reason why women don’t consume as much of the online media.

But Rajneesh did not want to limit the discourse to just women in stand-up comedy. Rajneesh not only voiced his comments on more representation of women but has also spoken about greater inclusion of other sections of the society whether there are Dalits or stand-up comedians who speak in Hindi.


Male comics are mostly identical these days. You learn a lot from comedy and the more varied backgrounds the comedians come from, the better it is. Gender, education, language and even class barriers are being broken, why can’t we have that in comedy?

Also Read: Neeti Palta to Mallika Dua: 9 female stand-up comics you definitely need to follow

On breaking stereotypes, Radhika says:

Stand-up comedy has the same challenges as being a woman. You have to take risks and you have to turn around and say, “I don’t care.” In the misogynistic culture, don’t forget that this is nature of India, and we must understand that. It will not change drastically unless more women comics come up with female driven content. Then it becomes essential to get support from both women in the community and men. And somewhere we have to introspect and accept that we may as well be part of the problem.

In the words of the great comedian Amy Poehler, “Girls, if boys say something that’s not funny, you don’t have to laugh.” Perhaps it is time to reflect on that.

Note: The copy has been updated with the full quote of stand-up comic Tanmay Bhatt. An earlier version of the article had quoted him partially without providing the context.

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