Comic acts in the city has had a take on everything -- from politics to the person sitting next to you. This weekend, however, UK-based comic Imran Yusuf’s performance at blueFROG, Lower Parel, promises to have something new in store. Think chat-up lines, confessions about his disastrous love-life and the odd dinosaur impression, with the central theme of being Muslim in Britain.
Yusuf realised stand-up comedy was his calling only in 2007. “I did my very first gig in 2000, but later focused on my video games business. I then properly started comedy in 2003, but quit in 2006 and then came back after a year and half in 2007. That’s when I really focussed on it, and in 2010 my career changed dramatically,” he says.
For Yusuf, performing in India allows him to explore his identity and heritage. “My grandparents were born in India, I speak Urdu, I have Indian heritage and so I know about various subjects that are relevant here. I speak about my life experiences, and being an East-African Indian British Muslim gives me plenty of subjects to explore and talk about.”
Yusuf says he isn’t here to provoke or be too nasty. “I want to make people laugh and feel good. Often, shock comedy is used to cleverly criticise certain subjects or people but there is a prejudice behind it. I have discovered that I have become more passionate about social injustices and politics. Sometimes I cover these issues and that means criticising governments, politicians and wealthy people who are often corrupt and stand-up comedy is a medium through which it can be addressed. Of course, it’s not all that intense, sometimes I do impressions of dinosaurs or what Hollywood movies would be like if they were made in Bollywood.”
The audiences, he adds, are more critical back home. “The audiences are tougher back home where the quality of comedians is one of the highest in the world. I’m grateful that my peer group is of comics, and I learn a lot from them. The Indian audience is mostly very comedy literate.” We ask him to tell us a joke. “Don’t be a miser, buy a ticket and watch me perform!”