Cutting Chai with Urvi Majumdar

Meet a stand-up comedian, writer, actor and producer, currently working on her own new show Urvi Majumdar Went to an All-Girls School,

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Urvi Majumdar is a Melbourne-based stand-up comedian, writer, and producer, who has appeared on ABC’s Fisk and Channel 9’s Metro Sexual and currently writes for The Weekly with Charlie Pickering.

Your latest show is called Urvi Went to An All Girls School. Is the all-girls school experience all it’s hyped up to be?

Urvi Majumdar: I find it funny because it’s so intense. A lot of South Asian families want you to go to a selective school; I felt like the stakes were so high because all my parents’ hopes and dreams were pinned on this school, but I really wanted to be an actor, which was not part of the plan for them!

For some reason, I have crystal clear memory of everything up until I was 18. The intensity towards thinking about boys or life outside of that environment leads to a lot of comical moments, so I decided to make it into a show which is now being adapted for TV.

You’ve been doing stand-up for almost seven years now, during which time you’ve received the Stand UP! grant and earlier this year, performed in Brown Women Comedy. What kind of shifts have happened for women of colour in comedy?

Urvi Majumdar: When I first started, it was right before the #MeToo movement happened, and I personally noticed a really big change; it felt like more women were on lineups and diversity became something that people started talking about.

We still see a lot of tokenism and I think there’s still a long way to go, which is why I want the show I’m creating to have lots of diaspora people in front and behind the camera. But really, the change won’t happen until people in power are also from diverse communities, which we haven’t quite seen yet.

Lakshmi Ganapathy: You were also Senior Producer at Footscray Community Arts. What was it like facilitating rather than creating the art? 

Urvi Majumdar: I’ve really loved it. Working in a community art space has taught me about making way for others and the power in a multiplicity of voices. It’s been rewarding to meet other artists but also to give voice to the next generation. Footscray Community Arts really lives its values, and it’s the most diverse place I’ve worked in.

What’s something that you’re currently listening to/reading/playing/watching?

Urvi Majumdar: I’m rewatching the show PEN15 (Apple TV) because it’s a major inspiration for my own show. And I’m also reading Molly Shannon’s autobiography called Hello Molly, you’d recognise her from pretty much every comedy movie. She had a really harrowing life, but she’s got some great perspectives on stuff.

Lakshmi Ganapathy: What’s a word that you like in a South Asian language, and what does it mean?’

Urvi Majumdar: It sounds narcissistic, but I have a complex relationship with my name Urvi; it’s been hard for people to pronounce, and I code-switch depending on where I am. My grandmother chose it with my parents, and it derives from Sanskrit. It means ‘universe, world, the stars’; I really love the celestial meaning behind it.

Lakshmi Ganapathy: And finally, Soan Papdi or Papdi Chaat?

Urvi Majumdar: Papdi Chaat, because I am addicted! I’m going to India in two weeks and literally the main thing I’m looking forward to is street food. I’m a hardcore salt addict, it runs on my mum’s side. I just love anything salty and sour!

READ ALSO: Cutting Chai with Dr Shireen Morris

Lakshmi Ganapathy
Lakshmi Ganapathy
Lakshmi Ganapathy is an emerging journalist and theatre-maker based in Melbourne.

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