Exclusive Interview of Well known Stand up Comedian Junaid Akram with Pakistan Speaks.
interviewed by: Syed Ameer Hasan Jaffrey
1)How do you define yourself?
I think I am someone who is constantly looking to evolve as a person and that’s only possible when I take opinions on board. I believe that we all lack the ability to bear criticism and humour directed towards us. As a person I feel that I am capable of taking all criticism with my chin up and there have been incidents where I have taken suggestions onboard and succeeded.
2)When and how did you realize that you have a hilarious sense of humor and can be a standup comedian?
I was always, what you call, a class clown and that one funny friend who always cracks jokes. Right about when I was 25, a lot of friends suggested that I ventured into standup comedy. Since I was in Karachi at the time, there was barely any standup comedy scene and I didn’t realise such a platform would be welcomed especially as I wanted to perform in English. I heard about one Open Mic at T2f, I spoke to Sabeen Mahmud who offered me stage time and I’ve not looked back since.
3)What was the biggest hurdle in the path you chose?
Acceptability. You see, in our culture, art is never really considered worthy of respect. A musician is called a Mirasee, and a comedian is termed as a Bhaand. But I overcame those fears and kept doing what I loved.
4) Who or what inspired you to be a comedian?
I was always a Jerry Seinfeld fan. His observational humor forced me to look around and search for humor around my environment, and trust me there’s loads of comedy going around in Karachi if you just watch from a certain distance. I would say I was really bored and wanted to make new friends, since most of my friends had moved abroad to study.
5)Who are your favourite social media artists/content creators?
I love Jus Reign. I think he’s very funny. I used to follow KassemG back in the day but he’s moved on from YouTube to Hollywood. So there’s that.
6) Do you have any plans for the further development of your career as a comedian?
I would really like to turn this into a full time job and that’s the eventual plan. You should work what you love doing, not something that drags you out of bed at 6 am in the morning.
7) How much ‘anand’ do you get when people appreciate you for your work? How do your parents feel about your comedy and fame?
The best part about doing comedy is that you get your feedback right at the end of your joke. It’s not like you write a movie, then produce it and release it and after a year or two you get feedback. When I’m on stage, I get feedback every 7 seconds and I think that’s the best feeling. My parents had been very supportive and they think it’s pretty cool the kind of attention it gets me. I hid it from them for like 3 years until one day I went viral on YouTube and all my aunts started calling my mom. Their reaction surprised me. I thought I was going to be homeless but they enjoyed it.
8) Do you have any memorable or favourite incident to share on social media?
I once tweeted a joke out of boredom saying “Oh girl, you’re so fine you’re waajib ul cuddle”, which went viral and before I knew it, Bilawal Bhutto retweets it. Since he was also staying in Dubai at the time, I just sent him a message and invited him to attend my stand up show. He not only agreed, but came along with Bakhtawar and tweeted my photo while I was on stage. That was the most random thing that ever happened to me.
9) How do you see the future of comedy in Pakistan and on social media?
We have a lot of talent no doubt about that. But some of us are looking for short cut to fame and using other people’s material to get high numbers, which isn’t cool. We need to focus on individuality and work hard for it. I’m confident in no time we could have a thriving comedy scene on Pakistani social media.
10) What are your views about our platform, “Pakistan Speaks”?
I think Pakistan speaks is doing a wonderful job in promoting what our society lacks, empathy. I hope you guys continue growing at the rate you are and I’m sure that you will make a difference to our society.Stay blessed.