KARACHI: Comedy Masala International is a weekly show in Singapore, offering an open mic to all those who wish to exercise their funny bones. The show, which has been running since 2010 and attracts hundreds in crowd each week, is the brainchild of Umar Rana, a Pakistani comedian. The show has earned its place among the finest in Asia - and now Rana is bringing it to Pakistan.
Many years ago, Rana, brought up and raised here, was part of Pakistan’s first and highly acclaimed English-speaking improv troupe Black Fish. Making it to the 2013’s Top 10 comedians in Asia by Top 10 Magazine, Rana then moved to Singapore where he founded Comedy Masala.
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Speaking with The Express Tribune, he said he was excited to be back home here after a long time. He shared Comedy Masala’s Pakistan launch will include six shows, from February 23 to 25 with two shows per day. The lineup includes Paul Ogata, Matt Davis and Dwayne Perkins.
Dwayne Perkins PHOTO: PUBLICITY
When asked as to why he chose the aforementioned three comedians to perform in Pakistan, Rana said, “I hand-picked these three because they all have very different styles of standup comedy. And they have been performing for a long time globally, so I wanted to give our audience a taste of what pure standup comedy is.”
Matt Davis PHOTO: PUBLICITY
Rana, now back home after years, intends to help take the local comedy scene to the next echelon. He mentioned he has seen a notable difference in the country this time around. “Back when I performed here, it was quite conservative. Now things are so different and much more progressive. We have better tech, social media and a whole different generation has taken over. It’s all part of a bigger ecosystem.”
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He feels Comedy Masala would find its niche here because of positive changes over the years. “Right now, I’m not worried about whether it will work here because Pakistan is a huge country and if I can make it work in Singapore, which is so much smaller, then this shouldn’t be an issue,” Rana added. “But considering how the things have changed here over the years, I don’t think Comedy Masala would have succeeded in the country even 10 years back.”
Paul Ogata PHOTO: PUBLICITY
Now that it is here, Rana plans to make Comedy Masala a monthly show in Pakistan by 2018. “After our February shows in Karachi, we will perform in other cities in April, July and then September, October and November so that by January 2018, we have a solid footing to hold monthly shows here.”
He feels this will also help local comedians who need more direction to up their game. “Local comics perform in a mix of English and Urdu, and it’s totally different. Urdu is more narrative and in English, it’s a setup and payoff format. I want to promote Western style comedy here.”
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The monthly shows will include local as well as international comedians and will offer opportunities to both parties to learn and exchange knowledge with each other. “This would be a great opportunity for Pakistani comics to learn more. I mean, someone who’s been doing it for 15 years can probably teach something new to someone who’s been performing only for a few years,” Rana stated. “So, I’m hoping it would provide an amazing platform so that more Pakistani comedians can perform on international levels. I really hope to make Pakistan the hub of standup comedy.”
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