UK-based stand-up comedienne Janine Harouni is in India this weekend, presenting her show Man’oushe, in Mumbai and Bengaluru


“Witty is my way of dealing with life,” says Janine Harouni ahead of her visit to India, where she will perform in Mumbai and Bengaluru. Titled Man'oosh, her show is set to be nominated for the main Edinburgh Comedy Awards in 2023. was made, and it has come to India courtesy of Soho Theater in the United Kingdom.

Soon you realize that this is not the usual thing you hear in a comic. “I was selling brownies at an outdoor market in London in the pouring rain at 10 in the morning and I thought, 'I'm about to turn 30, I haven't worked as an artist or in a job I enjoy. A year now. “Any kind of bombing or pushing on stage couldn't be worse than this,” says Janine.

“I always wanted to do comedy, but I was too scared. I had previously been in a West End play for a year and a half, but after a year of complete unemployment I had nothing to lose,'' she candidly admits, speaking from her home in London, adding “So towards the end of 2016, I signed up for my first open mic and a year after that, I started competing in competitions in London.

Janine Harouni

Janine Harouni | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Janine says these shows were the lead-up to her first hour-long show at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019, “That was basically when I became a professional comic.”

And with a sense of “the right time,” the universe came to a standstill due to COVID-19. “This is what every live artist wants, as their career is coming to an end and the entire live industry is shutting down. It was great,'' she says with the self-deprecating, conspiratorial tone that wins over her colleagues on the show.

Still, Janine believes the break helped her in the long run. “I think because I got success very quickly. I didn't really know who I was or what my sound was at that time. Many people wait longer than me to do their first hour-long show; I had been doing standup for about two years when I went to a show at the Fringe.

“My first show was nominated for Best Newcomer, but I thought I was better at writing than knowing who I was. So having time off, as well as the therapy I began attending at that time, helped me look inward. Assessing this early in my career has made me a much more confident artist.”

Janine Harouni

Janine Harouni | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

about manouche

That sense of perspective certainly shapes Janine's personality both on and off the stage.

“The show I'm bringing to India is probably the most personal thing I've written. I talk about the loss of my friend and the show's director who died suddenly at the age of 43. I also talk about the losses I suffered during pregnancy. I don't think I could do it without really being sure of who I was before I started.”

“In my life, comedy serves as a tonic for the terrible things that happen. The show deals a lot with death and grief, but it's also funny and cathartic,” says the comedian, who adds that a lot of people have written in saying how the show gave them a sense of relief because they too have been through something similar. Had gone through a lot.

“It's not to make fun of death or grief, but being able to laugh about it takes away a little of its power. It's about being able to laugh together and find levity in the subject matter.”

“When I started writing the show, it obviously had nothing to do with my friend because he was around and we were working on it together. But then when he died, it felt weird not talking about him on stage, because it was on my mind all the time. And once I started talking about him, it became clear that he was part of the narrative and it made sense to have him in Manoushe.

Janine Harouni

Janine Harouni | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Janine says the hour-long show includes new material. “I'm talking about the year it took me almost a year to get pregnant. It talks about all the things that go through your mind at that time – big life changes, sacrifices, trying, getting pregnant, losing a baby. I talk about what it means to be a mother and what impact it has on a woman's career.”

The comic, who has Lebanese, American, Italian and Irish ancestry and now lives in the United Kingdom, says that some aspects of the show reflect her grandmother's life. “My grandmother was an Arabic singer from Lebanon who started performing with Fairoz, probably one of the most famous singers in the Arab world. But, instead of continuing her career by staying in the Middle East, she moved to America to make a better life for her children. So the show talks about her sacrifices and makes me reflect on my life and what it means to be an artist who has to travel the world and who is also a mother.

Janine Harouni

Janine Harouni | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

universal subset

“I have a fun family,” says Janine, adding, “I write about my life and my family. I don't really do observational comedy. I have found that there is universality in specifics – the more specific I am about my family, husband or parents, the more universal it is because everyone has relationships in their life.

Janine says she was 10 when she told her mother she wanted to be an actor, so she enrolled in local musical theater. “Even in school, I was always playing funny roles.”

“Once, a nun who was directing our play said, 'You're a comedian,' and when I told her I thought of myself as an actress, she thought of my best friend. Looked at Joe, who was very beautiful and a wonderful singer, and said, 'No, he is an actress. You're a comedian' I guess because he said that, I wanted to prove him wrong.

Janine Harouni

Janine Harouni | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“So I stopped auditioning for drama school in the UK and enrolled at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. I thought I'd be a serious actor, playing Shakespeare, until I got the role of Julia, Orwell's lead character. 1984, Then I realized how boring it was and that I actually like being funny and making people laugh.”

“When I was doing that play, my two best friends would meet me in the dressing room every day and we would write sketches together. We would film them and put them online and I realized I didn't want to be an actor anymore. I would love to write my own work and be a comedian.”

life revolves

“Strangely enough, comedy is where I started getting acting roles. i was in the most recent batmanThe movie and some people came to the show because they're big Batman fans,” says Janine, who played Carla Diaz in it. Batman (2022), “It lasted about two weeks of my life,” she says, laughing.

She has also had roles in television shows such as buffering (2021-23) and movies like The people we hate in marriage (2022) and Colette (2018).

After performing Manoushe in Mumbai and Bengaluru, Janine will take the show to the United States in May. “This is my first visit to India, but unfortunately I am going there only for four days. But I will try as best I can. “I'm really excited to eat everything I can.”

Manoushe written by Janine Harouni will come to Mumbai on March 15 and 16 and Bengaluru on March 17. tickets on bookmyshow

Janine Harouni

Janine Harouni | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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