To celebrate Pride Month this year, comedian Navin Noronha will be hosting India’s first-ever all-queer standup comedy show on 27 June. “Each of them is hilarious, filthy and queer af,” Noronha said in an Instagram post yesterday, announcing the lineup for the show which features Aayushi Jagad, Madhvendra Singh, Qais Palekar, Ankur Tangade, Sumedhu Natu and Goaty in addition to some special surprise guests.
When Noronha started off, comedians Nick Pillow and Vasu Primlani—both of whom have discontinued stage comedy—were the only ones representing the LGBTQ+ community in Indian standup. “I generally feel there have been queer comics but they didn’t come out on stage because of the general perception before 2018,” Noronha told DeadAnt.
Initially, the comic had to try and cushion his material to make it palatable for the masses. “But that was not something I could do,” he said. “I would build sets around my queer experiences, and the more I built on it, the more we had to laugh about in the grand scheme of things. And now due to the awareness and people being cool with it, we have more comics who are willing to talk about it on a public forum.”
Noronha’s idea behind the show was to give a platform to the community’s diverse voices and build their confidence to talk about their experiences on stage when venues open up again. “Mine is just a gay male’s experience, but there’s an entire spectrum and we want to get everybody to talk,” said Noronha. “The queer experience is a very unique experience. We are giving the space to queer comics in the lineup but it isn’t strictly about the community either. We are going to have fun with it.”
The greenroom aesthetic and the promotions around LGBTQ+ comics often make them feel uncomfortable said Noronha. “For the longest time, I was promoted as India’s first gay comedian. That’s what they would call me,” Noronha told us. “People get too devolved with labels. So through this show, we are going to take back the platform that we want.”
All the acts on the show have been polishing their material at Zoom open mics organised by Noronha since October 2020. “We called out to people who were queer and wanted to share their experience. We have had people registering from all over the country for these open mics but the 6-7 acts you’ll see at this show are the ones who have been constantly good,” said the comic.
Noronha was sceptical about a show centred on the queer experience but over the last few months, he’s realised it is going to be a great experience for the audience and the performers. “It’s a very fun show. The people who do these sets are the ones who are the heroes over here,” Noronha told us. “They bring so much of their lives and themselves and their perspectives to it, it’s amazing.”
“I also put on a little bit of makeup which I don’t usually do, because I don’t feel as comfortable being visibly queer at a general open mic, so to say. But here I can be myself,” he added.
Noronha is hopeful that the success of these virtual shows will allow them to hit the road in the months to come.
You can register for the show for free here.