Monday, March 27, 2006


The final posters and tickets for the Islamabad show went to the printers today!

Thinking of writing new material for the Isloo show. It would be a good way of tryiing stuff out without exposing it to Karachi (my primary audience).

You are all so excited to know this.

At what point does blog-ennui set in?

Thursday, March 23, 2006


The blog-ban is still in place so if any of you are visiting using or whatever nefarious means of bypassing censorship laws is in vogue right now: Hello.

Quick Summary:

My name is Sami Shah. I am a stand-up comedian in Karachi, Pakistan. I do this because I have an uncontrollable compulsion to get up on stage and risk total and complete embarrasment as often as possible.

I have done one hour-long solo show to date and am a regular performer at the local Open-Mic nights. My hour-long show went quite well (thank you for asking).

That was five months ago. Since then I have been working on material for a new show, although progress has been slow.

I am filling the gap by touring Lahore and Islamabad, courtesy of a radio company that has been very very good to me. The first stop is Islamabad on the 8th and 9th of April. One hour each night.

I am freaking out. Bad.

End Summary.

Last night I saw the documentary Comedian, chronicling Jerry Seinfeld's attempts at coming up with a complete hour of new material. I have seen it before. I recommend it to anyone thinking of becoming a comedian. It has everything you need to know about a stand-ups mindset and thinking process. And it is a damned good watch to boot.

I finished watching it and then watched a handy-cam recording of my own solo show. I then didn't sleep all night.


Comedians in America perform two, three times a night. 7 months a year. In club after club, honing their jokes. Perfecting the material. They live with golden rules like: Never open a show with new material. Use something that is a sure-fire laugh. They edit and perform and edit and perform and rinse and repeat.

I did one solo show that was 70% new material. Material that hasn't been done since for any other audiences because the entire audience in Karachi who would want to watch stand-up saw my show. The material did alright. In retrospect not as well as I thought it had. And now I am going to perform the same material for 4 nights in two different cities. For new audiences with no background in stand-up comedy. With different cultural contexts. Who might not get it.

Or maybe I just got lucky that one time and the material is not actually that good.

There are a billion reasons why I shouldn't do this. Why it would be suicide, in fact, to do this. And it is all building up in my head.

A million reasons not to do this. And they all make sense. And it is too late to back out.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: Standing in front of 300 people in the 8th of April. In Islamabad. And the first joke bombs. And I have an hour to go with material that won't work. Because people won' t get it. Or because it just isn't any damned good at all. And I have to do it again the next night.

What have I agreed to...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


A couple of people have rightly guessed that the teaser below is for a tour. More details when venue etc. is finalised. So far all we know for sure is that I am performing in Islamabad on the 8th & 9th of April and maybe Lahore end of April. 

Quite excited.

Was in Lhr and Isb this weekend on a Black Fish tour that could have been an episode of Survivor. Two days of suffering fart-scented Daewoo buses, bodily-fluid-soaked rest houses and organizational disasters that would have made any other Improv Troupe weep. 

But we are men. Manly men. With chest hairs. We did not weep. We persevered.

The only good thing to come out of this weekend was getting ideas for new material while trapped in the bus from Lahore to Islamabad. Did the whole ride with my breath held. The fart smell in there could have tenderized meat.

Jotting the new material stuff down here so that I don't forget it all. Will let them percolate in my head until they get more fleshed out:

America invades Karachi. Everyone goes to the beach to watch. Precision missiles going down alleyways.

Karachi protected from natural disasters by saint. What would the modern list given to him be like?

Things to do: Blow up gas station. Walk away all cool like. 

Thursday, March 16, 2006


April will be a good month for me.

Why you ask?

Here's a hint:

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Sunday, March 12, 2006


So that was an unmitigated disaster. 

Saturday evening I get to the TCF event to perform half an hour of stand-up with Saad. We had been told it would be 300 people and an all-ages audience.

It was, actually, three dozen 7 year olds. The entire audience was composed entirely of children. Sweet children, who were polite and obliging. But children nonetheless.

In mad panic Saad and I scrapped all our chosen material and decided on new stuff that would cater to this new audience base. Saad did fine actually. He did his song numbers and every kid was laughing 'cause he got words to rhyme. Oh and he slipped up and said "bastard". 

Straight up observational humor didn't go over as well. One kid laughed at my jokes, and I think it's because she thought I was funny looking. 

I resorted to making up jokes like, "my nose is this big because I use it to balance. Like a brontosauros' tail."

I then went home and wept. Or atleast drowned my sorrows in a thimble-full of Magic Corn.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Busy busy busy.

Two days ago was the Black Fish corporate performance for Microsoft which went better than we thought it would.
Yesterday the issue of Spyder magazine came out with the first of a series of funny-side-of-technology articles I am writing for them. So grab that if you see it anywhere. Just Rs.50.
Today is the TCF stand-up performance by Saad and I at Area 51. Half an hour each. And I haven't rehearsed at all so there more than a hint of panic in me right now.
Tomorrow (Sunday) is the public Black Fish show. Details at Should be fun as we are doing both short form and long form games. And debuting some new games we invented.
Next week sometime Telenor announces Black Fish as their Pakistani brand ambassadors.
18th and 19th Black Fish is performing in Lahore and Islamabad for the British Council.
Weekend after that is probably going to kicki of my Lahore Islamabad stand-up comedy tour. Details as soon as I have them.

Oh, and in between there somewhere is my day job. Which still hasn't paid me my monthly salary. Or given me my car. Or the cell phone they promised. Or the petrol I am owed.

Which makes me wonder why I rely on my day job for regular income when I am earning the same amount from comedy. And the money ends up being more regular.

I knwo you guys don't come to hear me bitching and moaning though, so here is some comedy. Peformed this bit at the last Open-Mic. Went over well. Stylistically different for me. I tend to write long rambling bits and these ended up becoming short two line jokes. It was fun working out the best way to deliver these:



I wear you may have noticed by now. I'm used to them, have worn them since
3rd grade. Yes I did get beat up alot, thank you for asking. 

People always get shocked when they ask me my number. The average spectacle wearers number is around 1.25 to 2.3. I just made up that statistic but it sounds about right. When people ask me I always tell them my number is -10.25. They always freak out:
"How do you see?"
"With glasses," I reply. 

People usually ask to put them on. They put them on and ask how they're looking. 
"How do I look?"
"I'd tell you but I'm blind now!"

Some people test me. They make me take off my glasses and ask me to count how many fingers they are holding up. Then they keep changing the number. Those people are dicks. Do they play "I spy with my little eye..." with a blind person. Got up to a guy in a wheel chair and challenge him to a game of football.


Monday, March 06, 2006


I still can't access Blogs directly (using 
Howvere, if you can see this and are in Karachi on the 11th: 

I will be performing at the TCF ilmathon on the 11th of March with two bands- 'Drift' and 'The Auntie Disco Project' and spectacular comedian Saad Haroon. Tickets will be avaliable through The Citizens Foundation and the show will be at 7pm in the evening.  The venue will be the parking lot of Area 51.  The show will start at 7pm sharp.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


So apparently, with the exception of a few random lucky souls who can access blogspot sites due to reasons unknown, the Blogger access-block is still in place in Pakistan.

Oh, and Bush came to Islamabad. And Musharraf actually snubbed him! Our man grew a pair. 

*sigh* I miss direct access to my blog. 

Thursday, March 02, 2006


So apparently the fuckwits in charge of internet policy in Pakistan have blocked all blogspot sites. 

Which means if you are reading this you are outside Pakistan are using some reroute. 

And 4 bombs exploded near the U.S. embassy in Karachi. Killing 4 (so far) and injuring dozens.

Fuck patriotism. I hate this place.