Stand-up: Sex, terrorism and other funny subjects

Published: July 29, 2011
Shah’s self mockery has gained much appreciation over time.

Shah’s self mockery has gained much appreciation over time.


The hall of the Knowledge Factory echoed with laughter as Sami Shah performed stand-up comedy for a few dozen people in the audience on Wednesday and thursday.

“We need to laugh more,” Shah told The Express Tribune at the end of the two-day event on Thursday.

The show was initially planned to take place at the Ali Auditorium but was shifted to the TKF due to administrative issues. “Thanks go to Ayeshah Alam, who came to the rescue and offered me the venue,” Shah said.

Shah made debuted in 2005 in Karachi and is one of the pioneers of English stand-up comedy in Pakistan. “Stand-up comedy is not new to Pakistan.

Umar Sharif, one of the living legends, is well known around the world for his stand-up comic performances,” Shah said. However, English stand-up has yet to gain widespread appreciation in Pakistan, he added.

“Shah brought laughter to Lahore and it was immense fun to hang out with friends,” Fatima from the audience said. She said it was the first time she attended a stand-up comedy show and it was ‘worth it’. Mubashir, another spectator said that such shows were a relief in frustrating times.

Shah’s interactive performance and witty jokes were highly appreciated on both days of the event. His fixation with our society’s tabooed subjects, especially sex, is reflected in his humour, another visitor said. A few eyebrows were raised, but Shah wittingly insisted he was a ‘degenerate, unlike Saad Haroon, who plays well to families.

Shah’s self mockery has gained much appreciation over time. “Personal experiences of lost love, annoying superiors and complexes amuse everyone. It is more of a social comment on how we, as a people, lack the ability to laugh at ourselves,” the comedian said.

During an act on the second day, the comedian joked about child abuse, leaving the crowd unamused. But, his witty commentary on social issues, brought the laughter back.

Comedy as an art form requires keen observation and intellectual engagement, said Saad Tariq, one of the organisers. Shah has a peculiar approach to stand-up comedy and he weaves serious social issues around a comic cone, throwing in surprise elements throughout his act, he added.

Tariq said that since stand-up comedy had scarcely been explored in Pakistan, the audience turnout was impressive. “We shall continue to hold such shows”, he added.

Topics such as social frustration, sexual insecurity, terrorism and political instability were brought up in the show. Shah said he appreciated the love and support the audience in Lahore had showen him.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2011.

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