'Pottymouth' takes it in her stride

Sharul Channa (above) will be performing alongside local star Michelle Chong, Malaysia’s Joanne Kam and American comic Jenny Yang in Laugh You Long Time, an all-female comedy showcase.
Sharul Channa (above) will be performing alongside local star Michelle Chong, Malaysia’s Joanne Kam and American comic Jenny Yang in Laugh You Long Time, an all-female comedy showcase. PHOTO: KC ENG

A reviewer had called female stand-up comic Sharul Channa's routine "potty-mouthed", but she is unfazed

Local stand-up comic Sharul Channa called her debut solo show last month Pottymouth because a reviewer once described her routine as "potty-mouthed".

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, am I right?" says Channa, 30.

In her next gig, from April 20 to 22, at Marina Bay Sands, she will be performing alongside local multi-hyphenate star Michelle Chong, Malaysia's Joanne Kam and American comic Jenny Yang.

Laugh You Long Time, an all- female comedy showcase, will see each of them offer her take on what it is like to be a woman in her culture.

Channa, the only full-time Singaporean female stand-up comic working the circuit now, embraces her identity as a woman.

"It's a label I'm proud to have in a scene dominated by men," she says, adding that she hopes to bust misconceptions of female comics.

  • BOOK IT / LAUGH YOU LONG TIME

  • WHERE: Sands Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue

    WHEN: April 20 to 22, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $45 to $135 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

    INFO: Only for those aged 16 and older

"When male comedians go up on stage and talk about being men, that's considered 'normal' comedy. But when a comedienne does the same, people tend to judge that as a 'female' brand of comedy.

"Whatever you call it, comedy is comedy. A good comedian's gender should not matter."

Since performing at her first stand-up comedy open mic night five years ago, she has been working hard at writing material, performing at comedy gigs and putting her name out there.

Before doing comedy full-time, Channa used to conduct speech and drama classes and acted in theatre productions such as Rafta Rafta by HuM Theatre.

Last year, she was the first Singaporean to be part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. She will be heading Down Under this year too.

It helps her career that her husband, Rishi Budhrani, is a fellow full-time stand-up comic.

"We bounce jokes off each other and are very critical of each other. If Rishi makes a facial expression when I test a joke on him, I know it's funny," says Channa.

The couple have no children.

In no way does she see her husband as competition.

"We have different perspectives of comedy and I will always be happy for any success Rishi has."

To supplement her income, she hosts events such as weddings.

"That's what you have to do to sustain yourself financially. I will do it until I break through and have my own movie like Lulu The Movie," she says, referring to Chong's hit movie.

With a bachelor of arts in communication and a diploma in theatre arts (acting), the quick-witted comedienne intends to pursue more theatre roles.

Channa directed a play that was part of Dastak, Singapore's first Hindi theatre festival last year and will be doing so again for this year's edition.

She hopes for more English- speaking Indian performers to join the scene.

"I have a lot of stuff happening, but I had to make them happen. You need to keep putting yourself out there."

Even if it means being called a pottymouth.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2017, with the headline ''Pottymouth' takes it in her stride'. Print Edition | Subscribe