Be nice to comedians and maybe they’ll stay
As I ask a comedian for an autograph I realize no one expresses their appreciation for the people who make us laugh.
The other day a friend of mine spotted a local standup comedian at the supermarket at the cashier next to us and did, what she thought, was the nonchalant head tilt in his direction and the excited whisper to me. I told her she should go say hi but I guess she was shy or something. Or that no one did that sort of thing unless the said person was a high paid celebrity wearing dark glasses and surrounded by security guards and paparazzi. This guy was wearing thick framed glasses and paying his grocery bill, alone.
I told her we should get his autograph. I mean you have to be some level of famous to be spotted in an unflatteringly florescent lit, crowded supermarket and still be recognized. Plus we had recently enjoyed his performance at a flood charity event. My friend whispered "You do it!" Fine. I like comics. So at the risk of seeming like an obsessed stalker, I walked up to him, pulled out the only piece of paper I had, my shopping receipt and asked him if I could get his autograph which probably surprised him, he had to reaffirm. "MY autograph?" funny. Then asked me if this was for a reality show or something. "Yes, the cameras in my glasses" I replied. He good naturedly signed my receipt. A smile, a nod, a thanks and goodbye.
But the realisation hit me, no one really does this sort of thing. How hard is it to show someone, even a stranger that you appreciate them being alive and doing what they do? It struck me as somewhat strange that someone who's job is to make people laugh and put him/herself in the spot to brave criticism (and Karachi's violent halaat) and gets paid peanuts, to not be approached and be appreciated for showing up despite it all.
It's hard enough to be happy with the cards you're dealt with in a world that displays again and again that you can't make a difference and are not needed. A world that constantly tries to break you down and shut you in and shut you up. It's enough to make anyone lose hope and leave this country for a greener card. At times it seems there's precious little left to laugh about. It takes years of carefully constructed cynicism, heavy disillusionment and repeated disappointment to build up our wall of hopelessness and anger but its laughter that rips all that to pieces.
So thank you Sami Shah, thank you Saad Haroon, thank you Ishma Alvi, thank you Danish Ali, thank you Saleem Nasir, thank you Bushra Ansari, Moin Akhtar, Anwar Maqsood, Jamshed Ansari, Arshad Mehmood, Durdana Butt, Behroze Sabzwari, Marina Khan, and so many more.
Thank you to the funny ones, thank you for the laughter.