Human resources professional Shivani Kapila makes short, funny videos with her mother-in-law for short video app Moj and has so far garnered 4.1 million fans.
Twenty-eight-year-old Niharicka Singh is one of the most popular comic stars on YouTube, dipping into her observations of the everyday life of a woman for her funny lines.
India is seeing a wave of female comic stars on social media, inspired by the first generation of women – including Aditi Mittal, Neeti Palta and Kaneez Surka – who made their mark in standup comedy in the last decade, and these are just a few of the many who are achieving success in a genre long dominated by men.
These female comics are debuting and testing newer formats on social media and not restricting themselves only to standup gigs.
“Earlier, there were 3-4 female standup comics in the country. As they started putting up their content on YouTube, we started seeing them, and more women started doing comedy,” said Ramya Ramapriya, a standup comedian. “Earlier, content was male-oriented, but that is changing slowly.”
These comics, fighting off trolls and biases, have also managed to garner millions of subscribers on YouTube, MX TakaTak, Moj and other short video platforms.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which has been a death knell for live events, is also one reasons why female comics are exploring social media.
Palta believes that being a female comic is not a novelty anymore as acceptability has grown towards the genre. “There is a flood of content online on comedy by female creators. Every now and then you will have a breakout video by someone,” she said.
More than 60% of creators in the acting genre on Moj are females, of which more than 25% post fun and humorous content and the number is rapidly expanding, the company said. “The audience base for female comedy creators is gradually increasing, with them putting up a brave attempt to experiment with a tough skillset like humour and comedy,” said Shashank Shekhar, director, Content Strategy and Operations, Moj, the short-video app owned by ShareChat.
The rise in popularity of women comedians on social media has been in line with more women joining the internet in India.
According to data platform Statista, women account for 40% of internet users in India now compared to 30% four years ago.
“Female content creators constitute a large part of the pie and are as popular in the comic dialogue dub categories as their male counterparts,” said Karan Bedi, CEO of MX Player. “Women are coming onboard as users, thus their contribution is rising in tandem.”
MX TakaTak is owned by MX Player, a Times Internet company. Times Internet is part of The Times of India Group that also publishes The Economic Times.
“When I started in 2016, my reference channel was Lilly Singh on how women are supposed to do comedy and how it is received,” said Niharicka Singh, whose YouTube channel Captain Nick has 1.73 million subscribers. “I made my content women-centric. Initially, guys didn’t receive it well, but women found it very relatable.”
According to YouTube, the community of comics, both male and female, have now come together to help each other grow.
“YouTube’s scale has, over the years, vastly expanded the boundaries of each genre – comedy and especially its sub-genres like observational comedy, have immense potential for richness because it comes from an individual’s gaze upon the world,” said Satya Raghavan, director – content partnerships, YouTube India.