Catch Pakistan’s pioneering comic Saad Haroon, voted second-funniest man in the world, in Dubai

The comedian, who finished second in Laugh Factory's Funniest Person in the World Competition this year, will be performing a stand-up routine on his journey into comedy and social satire.
The Pakistani comedian Saad Haroon was recently voted the second-funniest man in the world. Courtesy Saad Haroon
The Pakistani comedian Saad Haroon was recently voted the second-funniest man in the world. Courtesy Saad Haroon

Pakistan’s Saad Haroon is the second-funniest man in the world. The title was bestowed on him at the American comedy club Laugh Factory’s first international competition in October, during which Haroon got more than 7,000 votes in a public poll, beating comedians from France, the UAE and Spain. Haroon, who has been touring in the United States, will perform at the Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha on Wednesday, December 17, in a show hosted by Dubai Laughing Comedy Club.

Haroon’s 10-year career has been full of firsts: he created Blackfish, Pakistan’s first improv comedy troupe; he headed the first English-language political and social satire show on national television; and his Saad Haroon: Very Live! tour made him the first Pakistani comedian to perform standup routines in English across Pakistan. Ahead of his show in Dubai, Haroon tells us why, now more than ever, social and political satire in his country has become necessary and relevant.

How did you get into comedy?

I started around 2001, at the time the 9/11 attacks occurred. It was a depressing time for Pakistan – all the war and terror. We were going through a tough time. I wanted to do something that would keep people happy on a daily basis. I was working with my father back then and started to do comedy on the side. It was like I was leading two separate lives. At the time, I thought I’d be a good desi boy and sooner or later give up comedy. But I quit my job instead. I’ll be sharing a chunk of those stories from that journey on my show.

How is political and social satire received in Pakistan?

Pakistan has definitely gone through some hard times recently. As far as politics goes, people will talk about anything. It’s like we are honest to a fault – we call a spade a spade. Generally, when you are part of a society, you tend to gloss over things, but I’m proud that in Pakistan no one glosses over anything. We are still a young country, we’ll see how this honesty ends in the national character and scheme of things.

But is any topic off limits on stage?

There are definitely social taboos. You can say things about politics and you may or may not get into trouble depending on what city you are in and its affiliations. So it does get tricky. Of course, Pakistan is a very religious country, so people don’t appreciate humour about religion. You’ve got to respect sensitivities – performing in the UAE is the same way. My approach is to talk about things in a certain manner and make people laugh.

Offstage, what’s a typical day in your life like?

Very boring. Out of bed at 8am and then it’s just answering emails, writing and correspondence. I don’t have a manager, so I have to handle everything, right from writing, producing, directing, acting and getting through the show. It’s a full-time job.

When you won the title of the second-funniest person in the world you said that even if you had come last you would not have been disappointed. What would have been the consolation?

Just getting nominated would have been the consolation – at least someone is confident of my ability. And in a competition such as this, you meet all kinds of comedians, each with a different style. Just the whole experience was worth it. There is no good reason why I do comedy. It’s a very chaotic and neurotic profession that I’m addicted to.

If you were to run into an alien on Earth, what joke would you tell?

Gosh, I’d just say run and don’t look back. That’s my sad interpretation of what’s going on. I’d ask them what they were doing here and tell them to run for their life.

• Saad Haroon will perform at Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha on Wednesday, December 17, from 8pm. Tickets cost Dh100 and are available on www.itp.net

aahmed@thenational.ae

Published: December 15, 2014 04:00 AM

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