islamabad - As the name suggests, Auratnaak is an amalgamation of aurat and khatarnaak, the word was penned down by Faiza Saleem, one of Pakistan’s most talented comediennes. This weekend, the all-girls troupe with a bombastic humour brought their totes full of PG13 jokes and lit up Islamabad with their stand-up comedic performances at Sattarbuksh. The troupe did full justice to their name since the show was dangerously comical and the performers managed to punch patriarchy right where it hurts the most. They danced on the floor of taboos and kicked misogyny out of the door. In a male-dominated industry of comedians, Auratnaak has made a name for itself in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. The encore show was a repeat performance of their previous show held in July. The show commenced with Orooj e Zafar’s original song about feminism, misogyny and being a woman, titled “Not the Auratnaak theme song”. It left the audience in stitches and it really set the mood for the following performances. The first comedienne was Nadine, who started her performance by proudly telling her age to the audience (Something most women are really wary about), she talked about cousin marriages, interracial marriages and the cast obsession during the rishta hunt, but what really shook the audience was her take at “Islamabad’s burger community” and left the audience wanting more. It was followed by Humay Waseem’s performance, a merciless comedienne and an empowered feminist, Humay had the audience in stitches, her well-articulated poem about Imran Khan and his anti-feminist stance not only received a thunderous applause but she also became my favorite comedienne within a few minutes. “Naya Pakistan is how his former wife used to live and Purana Pakistan is how his new wife lives” she exclaimed and the audience just couldn’t stop laughing. Her jokes were fresh, to the point and really savage. She ended her set with some beautiful words “A woman is not who you say she is, a woman is whoever she wants to be”.

 Next up was Orooj, her expressions were even more comical than her jokes and she soon had the audience eating out of her hand. She began her set with a joke about the government ignoring environmental issues, followed by narcissism, growing up as a brown girl in a whitewashed society and the “beta shaadi kab karogi, bache kab karogi” dilemma. While talking about feminism and tabdeeli she said “I wish I could drop a hint of feminism on a house situated on top of a hill in bani gala” and people began hooting and cheering with great fervor. Orooj’s performance was followed by Meherbano’s hilarious set where she shed light on slut-shaming, Qandeel Baloch and the hypocrisy that our elitist women are reeking of. “My favorite hobby is to grab a coffee from Mocca and attend a protest outside the press club, to fight for inequality, after my 11-year-old servant irons my karandi white kurta,” she explained in her satirical act, she also touched the desi feminist movement i.e.  “Khana khud garam karo” and had the audience falling off their chairs and hooting like hooligans.

The next performer Anusheh was introduced with a hilarious introduction “Our next performer deserves a round of applause because she crossed the border, yes she came from Pindi” and it left the audience in splits. She talked about the obsession with giving birth only to fair skinned children in desi households. While cracking a hilarious joke about fat-shaming she said: “My mom once told me, beta kapre sirf hanger pe hee ache lagte hain, while my nani the leader of the aunty brigade literally expected me to lose weight and get pregnant at the same time”. The audience really connected with Anusheh, who by the way is a Columbia graduate. While talking about living and studying in New York she exclaimed: “Now I’m too western liberal for my old friends and too middle class for new ones”. The audience seemed to love jokes about Hamza Ali Abbasi, Ali Zafar, and Imran Khan. Sehar Tariq’s comical performance was packed with energy, she obliterated rishta aunties, talked about the curse of being an only child, the self-righteousness of PTI supporters, not being able to tell a potential MIL that she studied “Women’s studies” in grad school due to a fear of being labelled as a feminist and resultantly being rejected by the potential husband and mother in law. In reference to Reham Khan’s book and the new supreme leader she said, “Any woman who wants to succeed should know how to use Kaali daal” and the audience burst out laughing. Sehar received a thunderous round of applause and she instantly became the audience’s favorite comedienne.

Sehar set the bar really high for the remaining performers but Anya managed to please the audience immediately, not only is she blessed with good looks but with a great humour as well. She talked about being raised in Islamabad with a foreign mother, consent or the lack thereof, being considered a gori in her own country and the audience’s favorite bulls eye i.e. Ali Zafar. The last three performers were Sabah “a fashion journalist not a blogger”, Hajra “self-proclaimed pure blooded Pashtun” and Zara “exterminator of gender stereotypes”. Three powerful (literally), fierce and unapologetic comediennes whose performances were jam-packed with puns and punches, Hajra being a former MMA trainer literally punched and kicked stereotypical notions and taboos. Sabah’s confidence was awe-inspiring, Hajra’s boldness and wit won more than a few hearts and Zara really made some men in the audience  insecure by her strong and fierce personality and brutal jokes.  Not only was the audience high on laughter but they seemed to be really proud to see this group of strong independent women strumming all the “Wrong” topics so bravely. For me, the highlight of the event was definitely the pad drive, the troupe had requested people in Islamabad to drop packets of sanitary pads in a box kept at the venue which would later be donated to a women’s shelter, the response that this drive received was overwhelming and the box was bursting before half of the audience even reached the venue. So they have decided to leave the box at Sattarbuksh F-7 for another week to give an opportunity to all those who were unaware about the drive. The event was a major success, given the ear-numbing and mind-blowing cheers from the audience.

The fact that there were women in hijabs, women with tattoos, Pakistani women, Foreign women, even men all sitting together in the same space without any judgment, is a ray of hope that one day we could have such an all-inclusive non-judgmental society instead of a non-inclusive “Naya Pakistan”.  Not only did I leave the venue with a numb jaw but also with sore eyes given the amount of tears I shed while laughing my heart out. In millennial words, this group of avant-garde women truly killed it.