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...


Blogger Khizzy said... about a hash brownie just before the whatever happens...will not really sink in at that show mortification u can live with!

also u could come up with jokes specific to the cities ur going to...u know, what both cities are famous for, and kind of turn it into a 'karachiites perspective' thing...(but without sounding insulting)

hmmm...or scratch all that.ur the pro here!

7:44 AM  

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