Arts & Culture
The multi-talented actor, writer and stand-up talks about her Alphabet tour and being honest.
“I am all about the 100% truth”. Acclaimed stand-up, actor, writer, and former investment banker Sindhu Vee has worked in businesses that may occasionally encourage people to be economical with the truth, so it’s pleasing to hear that lies to her are like kryptonite. “There is no need to tell people bullshit about yourself. As a stand-up, I think you guys should believe that I thought these things. It speaks volumes about how much I love my audiences and how much I trust them.”
The love between audiences and Sindhu has been a two-way street since the India-born stand-up broke through on the UK comedy scene in 2018. Her full debut show Sandhog went down a storm with crowds and critics alike (she earned rave reviews and an Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nomination), and having taken it out onto the road, she’s desperate to bring fresh material to venues across the country.
Her new show, Alphabet, will tour this year, and takes in a whole range of different subjects and ideas. There’s no overarching theme, just a series of very funny stories, all of which are, remember, 100% true. Sindhu feels that this is as much about her process as anything else.
“There’s no explicit theme but, yes, there’s something in there about the alphabet. When I’m putting material together, typically my heart is in one place. I tend not to write for a show, I just write material. I am someone who believes that an hour of stand-up can be different bits, in what can be broadly called the American model: there might be turnips and then shoes and then my mother-in-law, but there’s no big theme. If that does happen, it’s not on purpose.”
Alphabet may turn out not to include root vegetables, footwear and family members, but like every other comic producing a show this year, there is one over-riding subject that will be almost impossible to ignore. “I’m someone who will only talk about what they care about at the time. Maybe all stand-ups do that, I don’t know. For a lot of people, lockdown was about being with your family but for me it was about being inward. I discovered a few things about my life that I thought ‘well this is shit: am I really that shallow?’ And, well, yes, I am. And, yes, it’s all in the show.”
A lot has happened to Sindhu since she made that breakthrough three years ago. Her TV credits have included acting spots on hit comedy-dramas such as Sex Education and Feel Good, while she has been funny as herself on the likes of Live At The Apollo, Mock The Week, QI, and Have I Got News For You. For radio, she’s made Sindhustan and Things My Mother Never Told Me About Lockdown, while she also co-hosts the Child Labour podcast with fellow comic and parent Stuart Goldsmith. On the horizon is an appearance in the movie version of Tim Minchin’s musical Matilda which will be released in 2022.
“Though stand-up is definitely my big love, I discovered over time that comedy isn’t just one thing; you can exercise your comedy muscles in various ways and you have to have the discipline. There’s something about stand-up that requires discipline but is very sociable as well. A lot of your different needs are met; it’s not like writing where it’s all on you. Lockdown taught me a lot; there was no gigging and no clubs, so if you’re a comic, you have to self-generate your stuff.”
With a fully self-generated show to now take to her public, Sindhu is fully aware from her Sandhog experience that being on the road for a national tour has its ups and downs. “Before, I had never had a reason to travel the UK so much. I’m from India so when I went on holiday I would go back to India: why would I go to Kettering? So the biggest positive thing for me on tour was to look at all of this UK! Also I had zero geography. I’d say, ‘why is there water here?’ and my tour manager would say ‘oh god, do I have to show you a map?’ Another big pro is simply getting to tour and having an audience; it really is a highlight of doing this as a profession.”
And what of the cons? “Before I got a tour manager, in a couple of places there were hotels that were a combination of Fawlty Towers and that one from The Shining. They were so weird. I thought ‘I’m going to die here and no one is going to know where I am’. I have a very vivid imagination and I was addicted to all kinds of true crime before true crime became a thing. Another con is that I have come from very full families and touring can be very lonely. But, by and large, I am very excited to be on tour and I feel very lucky.”
Sindhu has one final message for those coming to see Alphabet, whether they’re already fans of her stand-up or those who have come to her through the TV programmes she’s appeared in or the radio shows and podcasts she’s recorded. “I feel like Sandhog was an introduction: this is who I am, this is who I’m married to, this is what I think. Whereas Alphabet is actually less about who I am on the outside, all the stuff you could have picked up on Wikipedia, and more about who I am on the inside. I think that’s the real difference. Pretty much everything I’m going to say in Alphabet you wouldn’t know if you didn’t come to the show. I have too much respect for stand-up as an artform and for the audiences who come to see me to not write and perform what’s really coursing through me.”
Sindhu Vee will be appearing at the Key Theatre in Peterborough as part of her national tour on 10 February 2022.