Comedy without sexism

Weighing in at 98 pounds, Dhaya Lakshminarayanan, a Massachusetts Institute of Techology grad turned venture capitalist-turned-comedian, isn’t small onstage.

The nerdy class clown describes her act as cerebral, witty and reflective; real-world events and her traditional Indian upbringing in the Deep South are the foundation for her jokes.

Teachers loved her smarts, but with her propensity for mouthing off, she racked up a hefty time-out schedule, which dates back to her days in kindergarten. “I grew up in a family where being funny was rewarded, but it always got me in trouble at school,” says the comedian, who appears Wednesday in the 11th annual Funny Girlz, billed as “a smorgasbord of women comedians.”

The lineup also features San Francisco native Carla Clayy, hostess Lisa Geduldig and English comedian Shazia Mirza.

Upon entering the business world, Lakshminarayanan started to channel her sense of humor constructively: “I was never the massive linebacker that could smoke cigars and talk about the game last night; my equalizing force was making people laugh,” she says.

Geduldig, Funny Girlz’ producer, created the show in 1999 to fill the void of female stand-up comedy in The City.

“When I see the bookings every week at The Punchline and Cobb’s, I ask myself, ‘Why all men?’” says Geduldig. “I want to showcase women comedians, but just because the show’s called Funny Girlz it doesn’t mean that it will be a show about tampons or that men shouldn’t attend. Funny is funny.”

Geduldig chooses comedians who are both smart and funny, so Lakshminarayanan was a perfect fit. “I also booked Dhaya because Lakshminarayanan makes Geduldig look as pronounceable as Smith.” (Note: It’s “gi (as in give)-dull-dig”).

Lakshminarayanan — pronounced “lack-shmi-nar-ee-in-ian” — foresees adding her Funny Girlz gig to her list of career highlights, which includes listening to her idol Robin Williams chat with Dick Gregory about old-time comedy backstage, hosting “High School Quiz Show” on PBS, and performing at last year’s Comedy Day in Golden Gate Park.

“It’s all about being able to elicit laughter in people,” the comedian says. “People come to a comedy show for a reason, so if I’m able to do my job and make them laugh, then hopefully I’ve made their life a little better.”

While she plans to always do stand-up, Lakshminarayanan says she eventually wants to have her own show that combines the two sides of her personality. “Talking about nerdy subjects in a funny way is my ultimate goal,” she says.

IF YOU GO

Funny Girlz
Where: Brava Theater, 2781 24th St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Tickets: $25

Contact: (415) 522-3737, (800) 838-3006, www.koshercomedy.com

artsentertainmentNEPOther Arts

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