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Embrace who you are - My Take by Pooja Vijay, India's first stuttering comedian

December 1, 2017

My Take this week is by comedian Pooja Vijay, who refuses to let her stutter come in the way of a fantastic sense of humour. Pooja is based in Bengaluru and has performed on sellout shows across the country.

Comedy happened to me at the spur of the moment. I saw a colleague's standup routine and thought why not give it a hand? I really enjoyed it and got a lot of positive feedback. I started going for many open mic events and I find it a great way to express myself in a way that connects with others.

I had a stutter all my life. My mother noticed it when I was very young, probably in KG. It became more pronounced when I was 11-12 years old but it was never an issue while growing up. Later my sister's friend, who is a speech therapist, pointed it out and I went for speech therapy classes.

When I am on stage there is stuttering in my act. In fact, it becomes quite visible and obvious when I am on stage. Initially I was teased and made fun of. People would mock me and that still happens. Sometimes when I say a sentence people say it back at me and that is weird. People think I am fumbling and one time a friend of mine actually had to say - 'Hey, she really has a stutter, so don't do that'. I am lucky to have supportive friends and family so even if a few say something its OK.

My stutter does not make me nervous. I actually embrace it. Every time I go onstage I am nervous, but that is true for every comedian. It is who I am. Its just like some people are thin and some are fat. A stutter is just another way of speaking. Why should everyone sound the same? That's been my philosophy.

I do have my bad days when I get bothered when people say something nasty like - 'Why you don't fix it?' They even tell me that I am faking the stutter for publicity. But the point is that whoever you are, people will always find something to say something about you.

I make my stutter a part of my set for the first few minutes. That is because I want people to get comfortable with the fact that I stutter. A lot of people feel worried about laughing at my jokes about my stutter and I want to break that. I want to tell people to move beyond it.

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