A returning performer to Fringe, Vijai won hearts over at last year’s festival with Give Them Vagina. This year she performs Good Girls Don’t, But Indian Girls Do, autobiographical vignettes that she delivers with an uproarious aftereffect.
Vijai had big dreams about becoming a performer and got her start as a stand-up comedian in ’97 through a comedy course at The Learning Annex. Despite the incessant plug from her father to go to med school or become a lawyer, Vijai could not deny her inner comedian.
Good Girls Don’t, But Indian Girls Do is not a stand-up comedy routine, but instead a carefully told one-woman stream of stories that leads us to know and appreciate the person Vijai has become. For anyone who has found struggle and amusement, perhaps even both, at the crossroads of cultural intersection, Vijai will speak to it.
She has a natural stage presence, is sharp and unraveled even the most seemingly stiff audience members into fits of laughter.
Vijai is an Indian-American and the first of her three sisters to be born in the United States. Originally from Rockville, Maryland, Vijai recounts her experiences as a suburban teenager and a college undergrad amidst the backdrop of her formal Indian upbringing. She brings her cultural history to life as she pokes fun at the idiosyncrasies of her mother, father, grandmother and sisters. Each character that she introduces takes on a different voice that Vijai captures with convincing accuracy.
As we learn about Vijai’s cultural background we experience the various standpoints she took to both identify and detach from it. She tells stories of being introduced to different Indian gods and goddesses, such as the Indian goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. But instead, Vijai finds refuge in the more wild, multi-disciplinary goddesses.
She tells of the strange experience of meeting her college boyfriend’s parents, who are Jewish and from Long Island, NY. Their small-town world mixed with Vijai’s Indian background brings out a hilarious contrast. At one point, the boyfriend’s father pulls Vijai aside and remarks if ever her and his son birthed children, they would be called “Hinjews.”
Each of her stories is told with a clear-cut, direct and smart-witted smile. Her talent rests in her personable nature as a comedian and storyteller as evidenced by her ability to reel the audience in from the beginning.
Good Girls Don’t, But Indian Girls Do has 3 more performances at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room, 1725 Columbia Road NW, Washington, DC.