February Issue 2013
As I walked into the PACC auditorium with The Beatles’ music playing in the background and a crowd already seated in anticipation, I knew it was going to be a fun evening. And so it was. Saad Haroon, Pakistan’s stand-up comedian, remembered for his rib-tickling humour in the improvisational comedy troupe Blackfish which he founded in 2002, and his very own TV show, The Real News on Aaj TV, was visiting Pakistan from the States where he is now settled. And his latest act, “Don’t Worry, Be Pakistani,” which ran from January 21 to February 5, had audiences rolling with laughter.
Haroon shared stories about the tension between his father, a businessman, and himself — because he was not cut out for the corporate world. He frequently engaged with the audience and made several jibes at a man of Memon background, who quit his father’s business to pursue a career of his choice. Haroon remarked that he could relate to the Memon’s story because, being a Delhiwala himself, his blood scans indicated the presence of both DNA and MBA. And although he failed at being a businessman, he also failed at being boring — which is all that really mattered to him at the end of the day.
He also took on Pakistani stereotypes; when a girl in the audience shared that she had been travelling since she graduated, he labelled her a “typical Pakistani woman who doesn’t want to work.” Next he addressed a man who was seated next to three women, and repeatedly asked him, “Tell us the secret, sir.” Married couples were quizzed on how they met, how long they had been married and what was the secret of a long marriage. When one man said it felt “surreal,” Haroon warned him that the word could come back to haunt him for the rest of his life.
In his new act, he dwelt upon the experiences of living in Pakistan — a theme that audiences could easily identify with — and understandably there wasn’t a single dull moment in the act. With the persecution of minorities, cross-border tensions with India, religious extremism, the wadera and seth culture, corrupt leaders and the Shia-Sunni divide, it’s a scary time to be a Pakistani. So when Haroon said, “don’t worry, be Pakistani,” the irony of the statement was not lost on his audience.