Sindhu Vee: Sandhog review – marriage as a battle of wits – The Guardian

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Sindhu Vee has a more interesting hinterland than most debut standups. She’s an ex-banker, has been married for 20 years and has three children. In her maiden solo set, she ignores the world of finance – saving it for a future show, perhaps? – and talks exclusively about things domestic. Sandhog is her treatise on long-term marriage, asking: How do you make it last? What’s love got to do with it? And, most importantly – with frequent reference to Vee’s battle of wits with her Danish husband – who wins?



It can feel as much like a lesson as an entertainment. Vee (full name Venkatanarayanan) has a teacherly style: her pacing deliberate, her core principles imparted to the audience by rote, her high-status manner implying wisdom to convey. This feels a bit deflating early on, as you accept that the jokes here may be frugally disbursed. But it has its rewards. Yes, marital cliches crop up in Sandhog, but Vee’s spirit of inquiry feels genuine and she poses insightful questions about the rewards and unromantic realities of lifelong partnerships.

The cliches don’t detain us long. There are throwaway mother-in-law gags, and a routine about farting in bed as a relationship landmark. A snippet of humdrum domestic conversation brings to mind Bridget Christie’s funnier and more extreme take on similar bland exchanges. Like many minority ethnic comics before her, Vee jokes about parental discipline, citing her Indian mum’s no-nonsense approach. Once choice gag finds Vee’s son calling her “intrusive”. Her response – and the withering look that accompanies it – makes mincemeat of the complaint.

Winning such arguments, according to Vee, is what family life is all about. I wasn’t persuaded by that: her smugness feels forced. But there’s hard-won authenticity elsewhere, in the contrast drawn between getting and staying married, the riff on love in a decades-long relationship (“so much of this feels like hate”), and her routine in which she proposes that “kids are to marriage as tsunamis are to beach holidays”. It’s an engaging debut, in which our ex-banker host measures out the profits and losses of domestic commitment, and finds herself just about in the black.

At Soho theatre, London, until 19 January and from 6 to 16 May. Also touring from 1 February to 3 April.



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