Hilariously funny, articulate, witty and keen observer — Mehrbano is one of the comedians of the “Auratnaak” troupe, a climate change activist, a feminist but what she does to eat is work in the development sector.
How interesting that the troupe is all women — a rarity in the world of stand-up comedy, that is often dominated by male performers. We had a tete-a-tete with the stand up comedian and delved deeper into her life and journey as an “auratnaak”
Let us know about your foray into stand up comedy (reasons, motivation)?
I use humour to channel my anger over some of Pakistan’s societal norms. So my last routine was inspired by my anger over underage domestic workers in affluent Pakistani households. Needless to say it gets a bit dark sometimes…
“It’s an amalgamation of ‘aurat’ and ‘khatarnaak’ meaning dangerous women,” explains Faiza Saleem, who gave the group its name. “The content was very raw and the women presenting it are bold and outspoken hence the name. The vibe was ‘Don’t mess with us!” The short version is that we are a stand up comedy troupe spread across 3 cities. The long version is that we see ourselves as a diverse collective of voices of resistance, including women and gender queer/non binary comedians.
What do you plan for it in the future
I want the movement to spread across other cities – next being Peshawar hopefully. We all have stories to tell. Every performer builds their set on a lifetime of experiences. It’s a beautiful thing to even see the process of writing, the inspiration, the underlying joy and pain
How does your day job figure in with your interest in the performing arts?
With great difficulty. I try to keep these worlds apart and my feminist comedian persona out of the office