Radhika Vaz Lets Her Hair Down
Have you met Radical – I mean – Radhika Vaz? Known as Rad for short, this stand up comic and sketch artist is the mouthpiece for all that women have been dying to say – but were too afraid to, or perhaps too ladylike. Vaz’s new one woman show ‘Unladylike’ takes on everything one would hesitate to discuss in polite company. It’s all about letting your hair down and speaking your mind.
Were does she get the inspiration – real life or imagination? “Real life,” says Vaz without blinking an eye. “ My one-woman show ‘Unladylike’ is essentially all truth – I am a nag, I have cellulite melting down the sides of my thighs, I pass wind, I am not a natural talent when it comes to oral sex – and all of these delightful topics and more are explored in the show.”
So is ‘Unladylike’ her alter-ego or a mix of all the women she’s ever known? She says, “I believe that all women have an ‘unladylike’ alter ego that is just waiting to get out. ‘Unladylike’ is a word that when I was growing up would have described most of my behavior. I went to boarding school and then to a college run by Catholic nuns and I was always in trouble for various unladylike endeavors – swearing loudly and ‘running about with boys’ jump to mind!”
Indeed, Vaz has had lots of experience letting her imagination run wild and then following it. As an only child growing up in Bombay, she entertained herslf by making up stuff, talking to her toys and to the mirror. Although life went the usually predictable way with a predictable real life job in the US, a new zing came into her day with classes with improv teachers Holly Mandel and Mona Mansour of the Los Angeles improv company The Groundlings. Vaz not only acts but also writes her own material.
Vaz recalls her first sketch: “ It was about a geeky woman whose big dream was to get all tarted up in red lipstick and high heels so she could go pick up a man in a bar – basically the character wanted to be a sexy vixen – and let’s be honest – what woman doesn’t?”
‘Unladylike’, which is directed by Brock Savage, at the Producer’s Club had Radhika Vaz, all prim and propah in a polka dotted frock and pearls, sipping from a cup of tea and nibbling on a biscuit while all the time talking about the most unladylike things. The audience, men and women, squirmed at first, looked a little glassy-eyed, and then chortled wildly as the Radical Rad launched into all the four-letter topics that a group of women or couples discuss behind closed doors anyway.
‘Unladylike’ is about equality for women – equal raunchiness, to be precise, all tongue-in-cheek. Says Vaz, “There are all the age-old double standards and stupid rules that we women participate in keeping alive – like men are allowed to be hairy but I have to wax every last hair out of BOTH my happy cavities to be considered attractive.
Or a man can merrily pass wind and he and his friends think its HIGHlarious – we women on the other hand have to pretend to take a phone call and leave the room thus creating a situation in which men have forgotten we fart at all. Basically you have to be a ‘lady’ and follow the rules or you are screwed. So all I am saying is stop waxing and start farting. Ok, maybe not all at once – but you know what I mean!”
Besides making a living from outrageous and embarrassing pronouncements, Vaz also teaches others how to do it. She teaches at Holly Mandel’s improv school Improvolution! – teaching a Level One class.
“I love teaching beginners. They are frightened out of their wits and it is amazing to see them transform from people who hid in the background to performers who can’t shut up and sit down! Holly calls me an improv Nazi because I am all about the rules of improv. Personally I see myself as more of a Queen of Hearts type. Off with their heads! Yes – I am a little ‘rule-oriented’ because it helps you keep your head on actually!”
Radhika Vaz Goes Unladylike…
India is the land of the Kama Sutra but of great public propriety where you’d think women conceive by just an act of imagination or maybe by butterflies flittering around the flowers. It’s almost ‘No sex please, we’re Indian!’ So how have audiences, especially desis, reacted to the more racy parts of her script?
“As a full-blown FOB I knew that there was nothing a fellow desi wouldn’t be able to handle and I was right,” says Vaz. “They love the raunchiest pieces. I have a friend who came to the show with her girl-friends and then came back the next day with her husband so she could watch his reaction to the oral sex rant – he is a nice Indian, banker and he laughed his ass off – I could actually see him from the stage and it made me very happy. Plus my mum and dad sat through it and they approve.”
For those of you who missed ‘Unladylike’ it can be seen on March 18, 25 and 26th at the Producer’s Club in Manhattan. More information is here