Saturday, October 29, 2005


First, before anything else:


An hour of solos Stand-Up Comedy* by Sami Shah
All original material.

TIME: 8 TO 9 P.M. (Show starts at 8:00 prompt)

Tickets available at AGHA'S, COSTA COFFEE AND ROASTERS and before the show

*Safe for people for all ages


That's the email that will be going out to everyone on tomorrow.
Anyone who wants to help can just cut/copy/paste it and send it
further to anyone they know.

Que: Sigh of relief.

The posters and tickets are done! Finally! God I actually feel so much
better! When I saw them at the printers today they looked great. The
colours were fantastic and the paper stock is just what I wanted. For
the first time, more so than when I paid the P.A.C.C. people, I
realized I am actually doing this. And I am finally excited about it
once again. I actually feel more relaxed. Even thought of some new
material which I need to write down. Dropped off 50 tickets to Costa
Coffee and will do Agha's and Roasters in the morning. Posters go up
wherever I can think of.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Aaargh! and Yay!

So today was a bit bizarre. Interesting blend of disasterous and uplifting.

The good part was being called up by CNBC who wanted to interview both Saad Haroon and I about comedy in Pakistan and why we want to do Stand-Up in particular. Had a fun hour-long interview that turned into quite a philosophical discussion on the place of humour in society. Should be good when it finally airs.

The bad part was a hit on the wallet. Remember how I had planned on printing all the tickets and posters at my office? For free? I snuck into the office at 8:30 p.m. only to find that for the first time in 2 years, the magnificent office printer had crashed. This is a beast of a machine that produces high-quality full colour prints at rapid speed at the rate of around 150 to 200 prints a day. It is the backbone of the Creative Department at our Ad Agency. And the bastard crashed today of all days. And me with timetable that required the printing of 220 tickets and 20 A3 sized posters by Saturday. It will take a week to fix. I have been planning on having the tickets in place and the posters up all over by Saturday morning. That would give me the two weeks I need for hard core marketing and promotion. 220 seats need alot of bums to fill them.

The only alternative I had left was the printing shop near K.D.A. They could handle the volume and four colour printing on the kind of paper I wanted. Colours slightly duller but not that anyone would notice. Only catch: total cost Rs. 4000!

I can sacrifice on colour and and print the tickets for cheap. The posters can be the black & white photocopies that Black Fish posters are. But dammit I don't want to! This is my solo show. This is what I've been working towards for four months and am risking a shit load of respect and reputation and credibility on. I want to do this my way or no way at all. So I forked over the money. Get the tickets and posters tomorrow. They go live on Saturday and the emailing and web presence and sms-ing all begins thereafter. My profit margin keeps getting smaller and smaller. Was going to give the money away anyway, but still, I had hoped to make enough to donate and also finance a future show. Looks like it will just be the former and any future shows (if this one doesn't bomb) will be paid for the same way this one was, out of my pocket and alot to lose.

Just one more day and I will post details on tickets and everything. Promise.

Just no more screw-ups. Not a good thing to do to a superstitious performer.

Oh and my anxiety and fear are just getting worse.

I can do this...I can do this...I can do this...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Busy busy busy...

I am so damned tense my neck muscles (yes I have muscles ha ha) feel like concrete. Not much time left before the show.

Last night I dreamed I was backstage getting ready to perform and someone from my day-job suddenly turns up and tells me there is a packaging design change needed on Knorr and so I leave the auditorium and start rushing to work. I refuse to read into this.

Poster is done. Not completely happy with it but it'll have to do. Tickets are designed, printing them out between today and tomorrow and then will drop them off. Currently thinking of printing 220 tickets, keeping 50 at Agha's, 50 at Costa Coffee, 50 at Roasters and the rest with me for selling at the gate and such.

Will start emailing the banner ads to people who have contacted me (thanks everyone by the way!) as soon as the tickets have been dropped. After that mass email to as many mailing lists as I can plus SMS-ing everyone on my phone list as well as asking friends and family to do same. Paid the Rs. 13,000 deposit to P.A.C.C. today. God I hope I can sell enough tickets to cover costs.

Sat down and read through all the material and timed it at around 45 minutes. That is without any pauses for laughter. Will add another ten to fifteen minutes just in case. No more socializing or going out for dinner and all that. Two weeks of sitting at home and writing and memorizing. Crunch time.

Saad is having another Open-Mic night on the 8th of November. The last one was a huge success and I think he can start making this a monthly feature. I'll be doing 5 to 7 minutes of material there, mix of old and new. Should be a good way to help get the word out and such. Will post details as they come.

Okay. Timelines and goals sorted. Now I just need to remember to breath.

God I hope I don't fuck this up....

Monday, October 24, 2005

The "Aye's" have it...

Thanks to you guys who responded, some by comment-system and some by email. It helped alot in making my final decision. So I am going ahead with the show!

13th of November is getting close and I can't afford to waste much more time. Need to start memorizing the material, design the posters and tickets and start arranging for miscellaneous stuff. Doing this all myself so it's a bit of work when you are already juggling a day-job and a hectic family life.

Been deciding on a name for the show. I liked BRING THE FUNNY but it's too similar to Chris Rock's "Bring the Pain" and I want to avoid any chances of being called a plagiarist, especially since there is almost no quality original material being presented in Pakistan right now. Also, "Bring the Funny" sounds too much like the name for a comedy competition or challenge. Which this isn't.

Another name option was 'CAUSE IT'S TRUE. From the cliche "It's funny because it's true". But that doesn't have enough...zing to it. If you will.

Last night I thought of NOBODY MOVES, NOBODY GETS HURT. I know it's a bit longish but I quite like it. Especially it kinda connects to some of the themes in my material. And one of the typographic tricks I can play with the poster-design is that I can superimpose an "L" onto the "M" in "Moves". Get it? Cheesy but quirky-funny. I like that.

Had a bunch of ideas for poster design and couldn't decide between them. Typographic? Cartoony illustration? Photographic? Or Realistic Vector Art. Finally decided to do all four. Four posters, all radically different from each other. Each placed at locations that match the design and theme. Which then gives me the option of printing up four types of tickets. Which should be fun. Buy a whole set and get free joke. Trading cards of the future. Or maybe just kinda sorta fun to see.

All of this is ofcourse made possible by the fact that I am able to print the posters and tickets for free at work (as long as I am staying late and my boss isn't reading this blog).

So it looks like it is settled. I won't be posting actual material here now until after the show as I don't want to give away stuff thus boring people at the show. Updates about time and venue details and ticket availability will come soon.

Will need help with guerrilla marketing! Any help at all would be appreciated. That means spreading the word, if you know of any venues where you can put up posters. If you have mailing lists or oft-frequented websites you can mention this on. Will be assembling a web and print press/marketing kit in the next few days. Drop me a line here or at if you want to be involved.

Thanks guys. I mean it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

No easy choice...

I've written and then deleted this post close to a dozen times now. Each time I decide against putting it on-line at the last moment and spend another day confused. I suppose the best way forward would be to preface it; I don't mean this to be insenstive and if it comes across as such I apologise in advance. I am just honestly really confused over what to do. So try not to be offended by this and if you will comment then just make relevant to the topic.

Some background:

I have spent the last three months preparing to do a live solo Stand-up comedy performance. This is born out of my love for Stand-up and a lack of venues and opportunities to present my material. Plus I figured if I pulled off a 40 minutes/1 hour show it would be the first of its kind. All original material presented by me, on stage, alone. A month ago I decided November 13th would be the day to do so and booked the P.A.C.C. auditorium. Since then I've been writing constantly and maintaining this blog to keep people up-to-date about progress and such.

Around two weeks ago the earthquake happened. Since then I've been as obsessed with the disaster and its fallout as much as any Pakistani. I stopped writing comedy because I couldn't focus on anything but the quake.I imagine it's the same for everyone.

Three days ago the P.A.C.C. called and asked for the payment for the auditorium. Which made me question the whole thing. Since then I've been really confused. Should I or shouldn't I do my show?

People have given me varying advice in discussion. One of my friends says go ahead and do it. People need to laugh and something like this would be fun and relaxing. Saad thinks it would be difficult but not inappropriate. Conversely, my wife feels it is too huge a risk, because it would be the first comedy performance after the quake and people would get offended and because if I get up there and do badly then it will take forever for my reputation as a comedian to recover.

I just don't know what to think myself. I have faith in my material. I think it's solid and funny and none of it is inappropriate at all. In fact, in keeping with Black Fish tradition it is entirely family friendly. I stand by my material. I am still shy of an hours worth but I think I can fill 40 minutes solid. I understand good material can be killed by bad delivery, especially after the Open-mic a month back when I rushed through everything. But I am more conscious of that now so not a major concern.

But what if people find it too wrong to do a comedy show after the quake? Maybe people aren't ready for that kind of escapism. What if I do badly? I go up there and just bomb. It can happen. It's happened to the greats. Why not me? I would be doing a bad show, on stage, alone, for an hour. After the disastrous "Crack Down" show a few weeks ago by some unfortunate kids I am all to clear on how painful that can be for audiences. It would be worse to do a bad show in the current mood and atmosphere. And what if no one turns up? It can happen. I still haven't marketed the show at all. There are three weeks to go but still. I could end up not covering costs
and P.A.C.C. is no longer cheap (Rs. 13,000 per night).

I always knew it was a risk, but until now I didn't realize just how much so. But then a part of me thinks I haven't done anything challenging in so damned long. It's been years since I really tested myself. And this is a sure-fire way. But when do I know if I've gone from challenging to masochistic?

And even now, I feel guilty thinking about this when there are so many people suffering and so many people giving up everything to help them. These are more serious times than any I have experienced. More so than 9/11 for us Pakistanis. Maybe I should just not do this. If I call of the show then I won't be able to get a venue till Mid-Jan at the earliest, and then God knows if I will still be able (there are alot of personal changes happening in my life around end of December that might have me out-of-country for a long time). Basically, now or never.

So what will it be?

Sunday, October 09, 2005


I know this is a bog focused on comedy but I feel it's oka to switch gears right now.

First of all: All the information you could want on donating and volunteering can be found at METROBLOGGING KARACHI. Go there and find out how best for you to give.

I was at the PAF Relief Drive late into last night. Did alot of heavy lifting and sorting of medicines (the latter of which my incredible wife was a central figure in). If anyone is planning on going down there today, please try taking medical supplies with you. Lots of First-Aid and Antibiotics needed. Please no expired stuff (check the date before giving) and no opened bottles!

Therre are mountains of material. So much has been given, but not enough people to help sort it and box it and so on. They need help in organizing things and they need muscle to lift things. It is important.

Go now.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Quick Notes...

Been unable to Blog the last few days because my blogger access isn't working from home. No clue why. Just refuses to submit new stuff to my blog.

Went an abysmal party a few days ago, some launch thing for a TV program which I couldn't get out of. Absolutely horrid. But on the bright side I got a good 5 minutes worth of material about bad parties while there. Got home at 3 a.m. and jotted it all down while bleary-eyed with sleep.

Since then, had ideas for a few more topics but haven't had the chance to flesh them out. Listed here so I don't forget them:


- Being rear-ended and made to feel guilty about it. Traffic accidents in general and the way people throng around them.

- Public bathrooms without Muslim Showers

- Boardgames (Risk, Scrabble, etc.)

- Smoking


That's it for now. The show is still set for the 13th of November. I'm quite nervous. Figured out a way to cut costs by just printing the posters at the office and getting the tickets done for cheap at the colour photo-copiers near my house.

The Open-Mic thing has apparently gotten some good buzz going for my solo show. Which is great since I need all the advertising I can get.

Stuck at the office as usual, but everything is made so much more bearable by the new Dane Cook stuff I've downloaded to my iPod. I love his style, so completely unique to him. Even his material is great, no one else could pull it off. Check out his website if you get a chance. Lots of free audio stuff there.