IT IS NO surprise that Sumukhi Suresh delivered one of this year’s best stand-up comedy performances. Her critically acclaimed show Hoemonal at Soho Theatre in central London demonstrated her incredible ability in front of a live audience and immense skills as a writer because it combined magnificent entertainment with meaning.
This added to diverse projects, including creating acclaimed streaming site serials like Pushpavalli, which have shown off her immense versatility as a comedian and actress. Her other works include co-writing and starring in the sketch show Go Straight Take Left on Amazon Prime, along with a stand-up special on the same streaming site.
Eastern Eye caught up with her to speak about comedy and her unforgettable UK shows.
What first connected you to comedy?
Getting into comedy was not a planned decision. So, the connection was more with the stage rather than comedy. Comedy, like every good decision, weaved itself into my life organically.
What do you remember about your first standup gig?
It was in Chennai. I had never done stand-up before. I did 45 minutes. My college principal, late Dr Nirmala Prasad was sitting in the front row. It was like a sign that I would be doing stand-up forever. Dr Nirmala Prasad and her MOP Vaishnav College for Women was the beginning of everything good in my life.
What has been the most memorable moment of your comedy journey so far?
Thankfully, there have been quite a few memorable moments. Some of them are when I made (YouTube series) Behti Naak and the first standing ovation for my show Hoemonal. Also, when (web series) Pushpavalli premiered and then won a Filmfare award for it.
How do you feel being on stage?
Being in front of a live audience is one filled with an energy and happiness that I cannot contain.
How did you feel performing your latest show Hoemonal for UK audiences at Soho Theatre in London?
These five shows were so important. It re-taught me the importance of being present on stage. Since I am doing this show again and again, it is muscle memory now. But these shows made me live the show again. I improvised so much on stage and added it to the special.
What inspired your new show?
My hormonal imbalance. My gynaecologist. Dating after 30 and the pressure to pay rent.
Do you know if a joke will work before going on stage?
So, my rule is if I am sure a joke will work already and that I don’t have to sell it to the audience, then it might be a first thought. Like a sex joke or a political one. But if there is an observation or joke that I am excited about, is honest and I am eager to perform it, then I know it will work.
What inspires you as a stand-up comedian?
I get to talk for hours and people are instantly reacting and validating me. I get to travel the world to do this. Every time when I am on stage, the audience inspires me.
Would you say that you are a fearless comedian?
I am becoming one. But it is going to take time for me. Will I sell tickets? Will people enjoy the show? Will I be able to do bigger seater shows? These thoughts still crowd me. Until these questions become less important, I will be a scared comedian.
Who is your own comedy hero?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I know she isn’t a stand-up comedian. But she is an absolute legend. And if she wants to do stand-up, she will ace that like she aces everything else.
Who is the funniest person you know in real life?
My father, nieces, and eldest brother.
Has being funny ever helped you get out of trouble?
Yes. Also no. Sometimes It has helped if I say how unfunny I am, and that gets me out of trouble.
Do you sometimes feel like you’re revealing too much about yourself on stage?
(Laughs) Oh please! I am revealing too much all the time. Ask my friends and acquaintances. I am an over-sharer. I share the least on stage.
Why do you love comedy?
I get to be exactly who I am and do it wearing whatever I want. My life and body will change, and it can be a bit on stage, instead of ending my career.