In for a treat: Singapore's most popular comedy franchise coming to Pakistan

Umar Rana aspires to make Pakistan hub for stand-up comedy

Sara Alam November 30, 2016

American comedians including the comedic force of dark humor Matt Davis , Paul Ogata of Pacific Rim fame, and Comedy Central's Steve Mc Grew are all set to make Pakistan laugh.

Comedy Masala, Singapore's largest and most popular comedy franchise, is the brainchild of Pakistani comedian Umar Rana. The franchise, which has been an opening act for several international comedians including Bill Burrr and Rob Schneider, is now coming to Pakistan.

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Umar, Pakistan's first and highly-acclaimed English Speaking Improv Comedy Troupe winner, has been doing comedy since 2001. He made his television debut on Comedy Central Asia's Stand-up Asia in 2016 and has performed live the world over.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Umar shared his vision behind bringing the international franchise to Pakistan. "I wanted to bring the show here because I think Pakistan is ready for some more entertainment, there are thousands of people waiting to have a good laugh. And being a Pakistani myself, I wanted to introduce the art form of western style stand-up comedy to my country, because honestly it's just a lot of fun, and making people laugh is always a good thing," he said.

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Umar revealed that his work had changed how Pakistanis were perceived abroad. "There's a lot of negative press about Pakistan across the world, and Singapore's a very diverse place with a multitude of expats from around the world, and they all come to see Masala every week. I've managed to change the perception about Pakistan in the room through my work. That's the great thing about comedy, it transcends cultures and boundaries," he said.


Umar aims to extend the concept stand-up comedy to Pakistan. "I wish to make Pakistan the hub for stand-up comedy in Asia, and using my experience of running Masala so successfully in Singapore, I want to leverage my network and build a deep connection between Pakistan and Southeast Asia, where the comedy scene has been growing consistently over the past seven years," he said.

The funny man told The Express Tribune that the shows in Pakistan will initially only feature international comedians from the US, Australia, Europe & Southeast Asia."There are plans in place to start a grassroots initiative via weekly open mics, which I will run myself, with the aim to get local comedians opening spots for future shows.," he said.

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Umar shared his experience working with international comedians saying, "I've worked with all these comedians in the past, and they have all headlined shows in Singapore with Comedy Masala. Matt, Paul and Steve were my first choice. They are simply hilarious, and I think the Pakistani audience is going to love them."

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He further revealed that the artistes had been kind enough to welcome his invitation to perform in Pakistan with open arms.
"All the comedians have no reservations about performing in Pakistan, and they are excited, and are looking forward to the experience.  I'm honoured that I get to introduce them to Pakistan and vice versa! Pakistan is in for a massive treat," he said.

The franchise will arrive in Pakistan in February next year.

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