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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Laughing At Yourself

I had gone to Lahore to see Nassir's little son (Cute!), check Shoaib Hashmi (moving up very slowly but gradually from his paralysis attack), meet Maleeha and a few friends, attend a TNS conference for a few minutes, and have a rollicking lunch with the Aitchison boys — all because my doctor had said I need to get myself back to my usual lifestyle.

Hasan Zaidi, who was on the same plane out as me, called me up from LUMS, where he was part of a conference. "Shazia Mirza is here and she's very funny", he said.
I had seen Shazia in her very early days and really loved what she did with her 9/11 jokes and was dying to see her again. Hasan had the answer: She'll be in Karachi for Wednesday and would be able to perform at T2F, if we could arrange that. He'd already said that to Sab on email and wanted quick confirmation. I called Sab and she said she was going to write back immediately. That's how we had Shazia come over and give us an hour of a wonderful performance.

The T2F/Twitter/Email announcement got tons of people phoning in to ask for seats being reserved for them … when the announcement said: Seats are limited and will be available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. No reservations. Apart from that, there were blogs and comments on the 'net about why people should boycott T2F for allowing an 'anti-Islam comedian' to play there. The fact that Shazia is more 'Muslim' than many of the ones commenting is another matter.

People from all sorts of areas in Karachi came over, starting from almost 5'ish. The show began at 7 … but many people still seemed to think that nothing will begin right. T2F does start on time, every time — unless the performers are missing. Heh. So, some kept coming well after the start time. Within a few minutes we had to lock the the doors, for there was no physical space, and several had to be requested to leave. Sorry, folks.

Shazia was accompanied by her mother who was taken up to the floor above, where the restaurant was, and was requested to stay there. "Her presence would put me off", said Shazia, and informed us that 'mom' had never been part of any show so far. She was great, as we talked to her after the show while sitting with a university friend she had met after 43 years.

Looking a little less Brit in her Pakistani outfit, Shazia was, until the show began, not fluffy or jumpy. Would she make us laugh? All that changed as she got underway. From sex jokes that seemed to be a bit above the top for a few members (though still toned down for local audience), to 9/11, the royalty in the UK, and 'Shania' (the Shoaib-Sania wedding), she had audiences laughing about everything. Oh, and the Mullas got it, too.

Pakistanis hardly laugh at themselves or do so in public. They cover most things in strange ways and oddities, adding religious and other embellishments on anything they feel should best be avoided. What Shazia has done is to make many people laugh at things they would not normally speak of themselves. A rare thing, indeed, for it allows them to soon talk of the things among friends and, then, out in the open.

A lot of the things that Shazia said had to do with her Britiness. From a joke at the Duke of Edinburgh or the Queen … to her remarks about Muslims ("My mom says I ought to travel PIA where possible, because they won't blow up their own."). But she was far from making any fun of Islam - constantly telling us that she neither has sex, nor touches alcohol nor drugs.

Hmmm ...

My favourite quote for the day, however, was when she was talking about bipolarity: "That", she said, "is not bi-polar. That's life!"

Go, Shazia!

[The photograph above is from Jamal Ashiquain's album.]

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Blogger Farrukh Ahmed said...

i too coulnd't make it sadly, though i had planned to be there by 6

the map on the t2f website didn't help as the lane numbers are totally messed up and after going around in circles, the only thing that helped was GPS! (why didn't i think of it before?)

i got there at 5 past 7 and had to turn back :(

09 April, 2010 09:26

Anonymous Sabeen Mahmud said...

@Farrukh: Sorry to hear you missed the show because you had trouble finding T2F. The textual directions listed on the site are solid. But yay for GPS and hope you can attend the next set of events.


09 April, 2010 09:43

Anonymous Ahmed Omar said...

@Sabeen & @Zak: Random thought, but have you ever considered broadcasting some of these shows live on Ustream. I think it would totally cool!

09 April, 2010 10:16

Blogger bayl said...

Sounds fun! Sorry I missed it. I disagree though; I think we're one of the most berating and self-deprecating societies! We don't let up any chance in humour directed at ourselves. And while there's a lot of laugh at and lament, there's a lot to celebrate as Mohsin Hamid pointed out in today's paper:

09 April, 2010 14:06

Blogger Zakintosh said...

Mohsin Hamid's article failed to raise my hopes (maybe it has more to do with being young).

I think the ability of a few of us to laugh at ourselves isn't the deal at all … it's the larger portion of the population that does not have the ability to laugh.

09 April, 2010 14:21

Blogger Faraz said...

Shazia Mirza was booked to perform at the NED University Alumni Association's annual dinner in 2007.

It was a family dinner where the Alumni brought their parents, spouses and children.

Shazia Mirza make three mistakes IMHO

1) She opened with sex jokes, not taking into account the age group of her audience

2) She kept making fun of an elder gentleman in the audience for missing a button on his shirt, kept calling him a 'pervert' (it dragged too long to be funny)

3) When the chairman of the organizing committee asked her to tone down the jokes she turned on him

You can read a second opinion here

09 April, 2010 21:56


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