What more could one ask for at the opening of TD Mosaic Festival 2013, through Comedy Night on August 11, 2013 at Novotel Hotel.
It was an hilarious evening, packed with laughter, more laughter and even more laughter, for a straight two hours. Three Stand up Comedians lined up, wonderfully represented the diaspora of North American, Canadian, desi mix.
Ali Hassan, a Canadian Stand Up comedian, host of Laugh Out Loud, and Lead Comedy Panelist on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight set the funny ball rolling, as he shared his own hilarious experiences as a Dad of three, before introducing the guest Comedians: Nitin Mirani and Azhar Usman.
Nitin Mirani is a Dubai based Indian stand up comedian, who calls himself a ‘glocal comic’: Talking global issues with local flavor.
Laughing at the stereotyping of his own Sindhi roots (which are associated with finance), he mentions: “”My mother said, “Get a 9-5 job in a bank like your Dad and brother, otherwise people will laugh at you. And that is what they are doing now.”
Watching how interactive and spontaneous he was to the reactions from his audience, I asked: “How do you manage to tread on the thin line between humor and mockery?”
He was prompt: “Humour connects everyone. Life is fast and nowadays everyone wants a one-hour massage in 10 minutes. One has to gauge in the first few minutes, what is the pulse of the audience to humor. And sometimes, some people do get offended, and I simply go and apologize if they feel offended.”
Nitin brought back the nostalgic memories of India by mentioning of cows that sit on the middle of a busy city road, and how we accommodating Indians, make them instantly as our traffic roundabouts.
And also of the litmus test of the desis, when you travel with them in the elevator: “They will scan you with their eyes, from head to toe.”
Nitin is the founder of Komic Sutra with the motto of : “Laugh and let laugh.”
“Compared to the Egyptians who are famed for their sense of humor, how do you place desi sense of humor?” I inquired.
“We too have an old tradition of humor since the Mughals, when the courts used to have Nautanki. And Birbal in Akbar’s Court was a great example of an intellectual who also had great sense of humor. Intelligent Akbar-Birbal jokes are so famous.”
Nitin has to his credit various titles of: ‘The King of U.A.E comedy’, ‘Best Personality’ at the 2012 Best in Dubai Awards, being named as one of the funniest people of 2012 by Rolling Stone M.E.
Nitin, is not just extremely hilarious, he is seriously a Bollywood material too.
Having laughed mad already, I had no idea what the Headliner, Azhar Usman, the Ayatollah of Comedy had in store for us. Sporting a large beard, and a skull cap, Azhar is best known for his comedy tour, ‘Allah Made me Funny’, a theatrical production that ended up as a movie.
Living up to his title of “Bin Laughin”, he again split the whole crowd into non stop laughter,. My cheeks had by the end, started to cramp.
He begins: “I have travelled all over the globe, and have realized that despite appearances, attires and skin color, we are all so alike.”
Possessed with a unique sense of humor, he gives the grave issues of racial profiling and stereotyping a humorous twist, making them all sound so ridiculous. He treads on to these sensitive and serious topics with great maturity and responsibility.
To prove his point he narrates a typical desi Auntie’s Telephone conversation:
“Jee haa, jee jee, theek hai, okay, Jee bilkul theek, jee jee. Okay Allah Hafiz.”
And how would this be taken be interpreteted by the Homeland Security
“Yes, yes, , yes, yes, alright, okay, yes, absolutely, Okay. May Allah be with you.”
Heyy, we found it, this is Al Qaida,
Talking to him after the show, I find him very positive, who holds no malice or anger towards the reactions he and other Muslims face in their day to day lives, owing to a handful of Extremists who have hijacked the community’s image.,
“Humor is a way you can share with the audience your bitter experiences, and make them realize the ridiculousness of it all. We must have no anger if we realize, it is all a reaction to fear, and a reaction to that reaction most of the times.”
He believes through comedy and humour, we can begin difficult and serious conversations, which do not offend anyone.
“Humour is a way to bridge gaps of bias and intolerance that have existed way before Sept. 11, 2001.” Usman elaborates.
Usman concludes the brief chat with me with the mention of two quotes from his favorite British humorist, Peter Ustinov:
“Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.”
: “Terrorism is the war of the poor and the War is terrorism of the rich. “
“Killing of any innocent civilians, whether from a dark cave or white house, is Terrorism. “ he ends.
Later going through his website, I found this touching of his introduction on his website:
“He considers himself a “citizen of the world,” and describes himself variously as follows: Intellectually White; Emotionally Japanese; Spiritually Indian; Psychically Persian; Physically Arab; Artistically Southeast Asian; Romantically Latino; and Psychologically Black. Today, Azhar is a global standup comedian who makes people laugh by telling the truth.”
And a few quotes on him:
“Allah Made Me Funny is an idea whose time has come.”(Russell Peters).
“Turns fear into funny.”( The New York Times)
“America’s Funniest Muslim!”(CNN).