Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
Mischievous and edgy stand up comedy from India
Sumit Anand's show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Nothing About Godzilla, delivers what it promises: zero references to Godzilla. It also delivers what you'd hope for when you buy a ticket to a stand-up comedy event: a ton of laughs and a pretty good time.
Anand brings this show to Melbourne from India, and while his content has broad appeal and he performs it entirely in English, his subject matter and comedic style retains a uniquely Indian flavour (without in any way feeding into popular stereotypes). His take on everything he jokes about is both unusual and engaging: he talks about class, privilege, family, emotions, competing with household appliances, and being a troublemaker, among other things. He occasionally throws in some tense and edgy content, especially when he talks about things like death, the patriarchy and communal conflict. But the overall tone of the show is light and mischievous, and his delivery is mostly endearing.
Nothing About Godzilla is a show that will resonate best with anyone who has experienced life in India first hand. It would also be a good pick for anyone who is planning to travel to India. Or anyone who wants to experience something other than what's usually on offer in the Melbourne stand up scene. Anand makes numerous references to cultural staples, such as living with one's parents even in one's 30s, playing cricket instead of attending class, and being spammed by fast food chains via text, to name a few. These references are subtle, though, and are not designed to educate, but simply to entertain (which is how they work best). Anand's projection of himself as an impish stirrer with a devil-may-care attitude may come across as mildly abrasive at times, but he balances it with generous servings of self-deprecation, and ultimately stands before his audience as just a regular guy living a regular life, just in another part of the world.
Anand does like to chat with his audience and engage in a bit of banter, especially towards the start to get some energy going in the room. If he decides you're going to be his main callback reference for the evening, a sense of humour will serve you well. The night I attended, audience interaction really worked in Anand's favour, bringing out his natural wit with unscripted playful jibes, also accenting the impish persona that is central to his show.