KARACHI: When Shazia Mirza said the c word for a part of the male anatomy, half of the faces in her audience turned red and the other half froze.
Later on, The Second Floor’s Sabeen Mahmud quipped that she was glad she had decided to lock the door once the show started. But the fear was unmistakable in her voice.
Mirza, who was in Karachi for just one show, Wednesday night, was cognizant of the fact that her audience had never heard someone say such things. Theres a silence, she said to them.
Then you look around to see if other people are laughing before you decide to.
Sami Shah, Nadir and Saad Haroon are naughty stand-ups but no one had come close to Mirza’s act. She did not spare any topic, virginity, the springiness of your hymen, different types of sex that spare you from losing your virginity, fat women, the 72 virgins in the afterlife, suicide bombers.
You’re all laughing because it’s true, she said. Everybody does it in Karachi. Everyone drinks. And your parents, who when you were young told you to keep away from men, now want you to get married.
She confessed that she had never had sex and now all her mother wanted was for her to give her grandchildren. Just get pregnant! her mother screams. When she was younger she was told not to take a taxi alone because the taxi driver might rape her. Now I’m offended if they don’t try, she quipped, much to the amusement, horror and mortification of half the people listening to her.
She also sensed that her audience was dying to laugh at itself and life around it. We're not used to having fun, she said. Were told not to do anything that would be a sin otherwise we won’t get into ‘Paradise’.
But what if, she asked, we get to ‘Paradise’ and God tells us that we were meant to have fun in the first world? I gave you DVDs, porn, sex those were the clues, she mimicked God as saying. And Shazia has been misinterpreted quite a bit.
When asked by stand-up Sami Shah what was her worst gig, she replied that she was chased out of an Ismaili centre in Amos, UK when she made her non-missionary sex joke. I lost a shoe in that one, she said wistfully.
But along with the controversy has come fame.
The Queen of England invited her to a reception. But the card didn’t quite say why, said Mirza. She wondered if it would be a one-on-one meeting, which made her very nervous. But then, when she turned up at Buckingham Palace, she discovered that she had been invited along with 400 other people Indians. The Queen was holding a reception ahead of the Indian prime minister’s visit.
She must have decided to get some brown people, said Mirza. It didn’t really matter where they were from.
In line, when she was introduced to Prince Philip, he asked her: Where are you from? Birmingham, she replied. No, he said. I meant where are you REALLY from. Once she told him that her mother was Pakistani, the prince said: Ah next week I’m holding a lecture on migration. Perhaps that would interest you? I thought the 85-year-old Prince Philip was trying to hint that he wanted me to leave the country, she said to the audience.
So I said, Sir, I’m having a lecture next week myself. On dying. Perhaps that would interest you!
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