Vijay Nathan, a standup comedian of considerable gifts, takes us through a whirling tour of her amusing life in this pleasant romp at the fabulous Chief Ike’s Mambo Room. Despite the title, there is little gynecology in her routine. There’s hardly time for it, or for the subject of medicine at all.
That’s all right. There’s plenty of other stuff. We cover her anxieties about her sexual desires (“Vijay,” her sister patiently explains, “in order to be a nymphomaniac you have to actually have sex”), her childhood addiction to romance novels, her time in the slow reader’s class, her constant battle with her weight (Nathan is mildly zaftig), her adventures with spanx – which, to my fellow unintiates, appears to be a sleek modern fabric whose intention is the same as the old-fashioned girdles and corsets – her dating practices, internet and otherwise, the wildly useless advice she gets from Cosmo magazine, her encounters with her conservative relatives from the old country, her beginnings in the comedy business (locally, she has been seen most often at SpeakeasyDC) and the surprising support she gets from her father. It is, in short, the quotidian life she shares with all of us, done up in a way which is warm and funny.
Give Them Vagina has the feel of a routine which is still in the tryout stage, and Nathan may be adding and subtracting material as she goes along. Much of the routine deserves to be kept – in particular a marvelous story about the night her parents accidentally watched a soft-core porn movie. Some of it (I’m thinking of her story about dating a German fellow) will probably end up on the discard pile. But even when she tells a clunker, she does so in such a sweet and ingenuous way that though the audience loses the joke, they don’t lose her.
Nathan has a gently interactive way with the crowd, poking amiable fun at audience members while at the same time making much more pointed fun of herself. This is particularly effective in a small venue like Chief Ike’s, where we gather around her like kids at a campfire listening to a popular counselor.
Before this becomes a fully satisfying comedy experience, Nathan will probably have to pare down her enormous list of topics and come up with a clearer overarching theme. In addition, Nathan, who has a rich and powerful voice, stands too close to the microphone for my money. At Chief Ike’s, she might consider doing the show without a microphone at all. Notwithstanding all these snarls and quibbles, though, Give Them Vagina is a lot of fun just as it is.
Give Them Vagina
Written, Directed and Performed by Vijay Nathan
Reviewed by Tim Treanor
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see the show? What did you think?