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Radicle Comedy Karachi: Liberating Women Through Comedy!

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Natalie Diddams has been conducting the workshop ‘Radicle Comedy’ in the U.K., every year since 2016. She is a U.K based theatre director who developed this project and now she is writing her Ph.D. thesis about it. The project is all about empowering women through comedy. Her Ph.D. is based on the importance of humor within the fourth wave of feminism.

This is the first time that the workshop is conducted in Karachi. This year the workshop was conducted in collaboration with a Karachi-based stand-up comedian; Natalia Gul Jilani. This year the weekly event was conducted virtually where participants were women and Karachiities. Sophie Ling assisted Natalie during the virtual sessions of the workshop. This was the fifth cycle of the yearly workshops where the participants get to perform for the Women of the World (WOW) festival stage on Women’s day on 8th March 2021 and the Napa Laughter Festival on 12th March 2021.

The festival is currently happening live.

As funny as it may sound, this participatory event could be conducted in Karachi only due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Natalie moved the whole U.K.-based workshop online where the funding was provided by the British Council. Other sponsors included the Theatre in the Mill, a theatre in Bradford, U.K., and the Arts Council, U.K.

Due to Covid-19, the three weekly workshops were presented virtually but the last session was conducted physically at Napa by Natalia and Natalie on Zoom, this Saturday on 6th March 2021.

Natalia hosted the event while Napa presented the venue for it. The 14 participants were from various backgrounds and performed stand-up comedy to their best potential. A few were already a part of theatre who explored their potential for comedy. The participants included Shabana Hassan, Rida Zainab, Aisha Khan, Afreen Naz, Farah Mehmood, Habiba Nadeem, Mahrukh Shahira, Samia Iftikhar, Zainab Agha, Aisha Hassan, Masooma Nadir, Dilshad Bano, Zahra Salahuddin (Germany), and Kainat Kadir (Multan). The last two participants were not present for the last session at Napa for the recorded performances but they were present in spirit.

All the performers presented their bits about their life experiences, observations, and general solutions. Mostly we see that the ratio of women is very little to that of men. But now, after witnessing so many women being funny on stage, it can be said that the ratio will almost be equal.

The stand-up comedy scene in Karachi is arriving a little late but the least you can say that it is happening. Open mics play a huge role in bringing out these performers.

Now we can surely say that the stand-up comedy scene in Karachi is lit!

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Naya Daur