Web series

This YouTube comedy channel by women is truly a riot

Refinery29’s web platform features several winning comedy sketches about the things that matter to women – and men.

Looking at the immense talent and popularity of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, or Maya Rudolph, one can almost believe that it is a good time to be a woman in comedy. But while these women work towards making comedy an equal opportunity playing field for both genders, the male skew still persists. It is manifest in unequal pay, ridiculous interviews about cat fights, and needless competition among peers.

In such a state of affairs, Refinery29’s female-first YouTube channel RIOT rebelliously champions funny women. Creative director Julie Miller worked for Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central for years, learning from the talents of Tina Fey (30 Rock, SNL) and Jessi Klein (writer for Inside Amy Schumer). Miller’s pitch to Refinery29 highlighted the need for a truly niche platform for woman-centric content, one that can find a home most easily on the web. The website entered the digital media space this year with original web series such as The Skinny by Jill Soloway and Jessie Kahnweiler and the Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan starrer The Walker.

Miller is constantly involved in the creative process, producing content that tackles subjects that may be too true for comfort. For instance, a truth fairy (musical comedian Tessa Hersh) sings about hating being a part of your friend’s baby shower, using Instagram filters to make your life seem a little greener from the other side, or being completely paralysed when all you need to say is the word “No.”

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Tessa Hersh.

The series Womanhood features comedians Jo Firestone and Archana Nancherla in deadpan expressions and shoulder-padded blazers discussing puberty, tampons, menopause, the fears that come with the thirties, and mid-life crises. The series is shot as a parody of the 1990s television talk show format and has a scratchy VHS tape quality.

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‘Womanhood’.

Woke Bae is a series in which host Phoebe Robinson and a guest talk about crush-worthy male celebrities who are great at what they do. The list includes comedian Aziz Ansari, actor Mark Ruffalo and absolutely everyone’s perfect man – Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.

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‘Woke Bae’ with Justin Trudeau.

Jacqueline Novak, author of How to Weep in Public: Feeble Offerings on Depression from One Who Knows, discusses depression and anxiety with guest stars such as Lena Dunham. The series Report Card touches on crucial subjects such as the benefits of psychedelic drugs and herpes. RIOT’s latest series Expecting, by filmmaker Shaina Feinberg, consists of a series of sketches about pregnancy.

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‘Expecting’.

Additionally, RIOT Live features interview clips with writer Jessi Klein from an event where creative director Miller described the web platform as place to celebrate women who are radical and relatable.

The channel is new and not too many videos old, but some of them have already received thousands of views. It’s easy to see why. RIOT is a female-centric, woman-first web destination to watch out for. Subscribe away.

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Watch Ruchir's journey: A story that captures the impact of accessible technology

Accessible technology has the potential to change lives.

“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.

Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology - it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.

That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.

— Ruchir.

Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.

As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.

Ruchir, then, migrated to Mumbai for the next phase in his career. It was in the Maximum City that his belief in technology being the great leveller was reinforced. “The city’s infrastructure is a challenging one, Uber helped me navigate the city” says Ruchir. By using the VoiceOver features, Ruchir could call an Uber wherever he was and move around easily. He reached out to Uber to see if together they could spread the message of accessible technology. This partnership resulted in a video that captures the essence of Ruchir’s story: The World in Voices.

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It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.

To know more about Ruchir’s journey, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.