Discover Studying Abroad

Meet the Livewire Comedian: Radhika Vaz

She might be funny now, but Radhika Vaz wasn’t always headed down that path – she started out with a postgraduate degree in Advertising. Vaz spoke with braingainmag about pursuing a career that fulfilled her passion, and the best advice she ever received.
BY Uttara Choudhury |   23-09-2013
Comedy artist Radhika Vaz;
Photo Courtesy of Katarina Kojic Kaplan
Radhika Vaz is one of those people who offers effortless comedy to those around her. She has performed widely on TV, stage and film and frequently  tours India and the U.S. as a stand-up comedienne. Her current show, Older. Angrier. Hairier is live at the Producer’s Club in New York.

Vaz holds a Masters in advertising from Syracuse University - and actually worked as an advertising-executive in Chennai and New York before discovering a strong love for improvisational theatre. She slipped into New York’s tough-as-nails, male-dominated comedy circuit from her buttoned-down corporate world of advertising, with her breakthrough show: Unladylike: The Pitfalls of Propriety. U.S. audiences loved Vaz’s impertinent, honest exploration of what it is like to be a woman.

Her other credits include The Kat and Rad Show, a sketch comedy for MTV Desi, a spot on Comedy Central’s Instant Comedy, two independent films - Homeland, and The Triumph of William Henry Harrison, as well as the off-Broadway play A First Class Man.

Vaz talked to about how a master improvisational instructor in New York helped her to find her feet in a tough industry.

  1. What did you do before being a comedienne and writing your own material?

    I worked in an advertising agency selling credit cards, before that I worked for a hotel company selling rooms. Now I sell tickets to my shows. So while things change, they also stay the same.

  2. What do you think had the biggest influence on your journey to your current career?

    My first improv class with Holly Mandel in New York. I felt like I had finally found something I wanted to be good at. Improv helped me find my feet as a performer and a writer.

  3. What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?

    There is no creativity without discipline.

  4. After a Masters in advertising from Syracuse University and working in advertising, you traded in the nine-to-five world for the vagaries of theatre life. Any regrets?

    None. Yet!

  5. Any tips for a South Asian student wanting to study in America?

    Make loads of friends from other countries. The best place to do this is at University. Be that person who socializes all the time with everyone. I didn’t do that as much as I wished I had. Grades are important but so are networks.

  6. Would you describe yourself as a gypsy?

    I would say that — I was born in Bombay and because my dad was in the Air Force I was raised all over India. I moved to America about 14 years ago and lived in Syracuse and in New York City — which happens to be the longest I have ever lived anywhere. I have a t-shirt I got in Jamaica a few years ago. It’s got an image of Bob Marley on the front and this quote on the back “My home is in my head.” I own no real estate anywhere so I guess it really spoke to me!

  7. What's the biggest myth about being a comedian?

    That we are all extroverts and can handle any social situation.

  8. Have you had a hard time opening up in front of people?
    I think I did. I have a loud personality so people often assume I am very open about everything – this isn’t really true, I was open but in a very superficial way. That changed when I started working on my one-woman shows. I got much more comfortable about how I felt about everything. I guess performing material that is so personal pushes you to becoming a more open person.

  9. What is the one thing you would recommend packing for anyone planning to go study in the U.S?

    A toilet mug. Hey, you can take the Indian out of India but you can’t take India out of the Indian!



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