INTERVIEW WITH ZAKIR KHAN
By Irfan Ali
1. Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you usually do when you’re not doing stand up comedy?
I was brought up in Indore. I did my schooling from St’Pauls. Among my friends, I was kind of a popular guy who used to joke around, pull-legs. Often, I was advised to join the ‘Laughter challenge.’ I’d never thought that comedy will give me so much fame. In my free time, I usually practice Sitar. Being born in family of classical music lovers has its perks.
2. Tell us about your story of winning Comedy Central.
Winning comedy central was big for me because I was a newbie and I had nothing to back that title. There were senior comedians in the competition and I was just a struggling writer.
For me, being in Top-15 was an achievement, but when I found myself in Top-5, I was surprised to surpass my own expectations. And to be very honest, on the day of finals, I had to fake pressure on myself, “Oh! C’mon Zakir, this is something big, be serious.” I was totally chilled before I bagged the prestigious title.
3. You tend to hook the audience while performing. What’s your take on that?
See, there are 3 things which an audience looks into a comic performer. First is relatable 0content followed by Observation and then comes emotion. If my audience can’t relate to my content, they won’t observe me and hence won’t laugh (No emotion). During my first performances in Delhi, my jokes/punches were based on Indore-Bhopal stories, which the audience could not relate to. So I had to improve myself on that front. I worked on my starting lines so that my content could relate to the audience in the very beginning.
4. As a comedian, what stereotypes you encounter?
In early days of fame, I was often treated casually, more like a person who will make you laugh all the time. But to be very clear, “Zakir Khan is a different person On-Off Stage.” I am one of those kinds of guy, who are usually seen alone in parties, holding a soft drink (Smiles).
5. Who among your contemporaries, you consider as ace comedians?
Every comedian’s style is different and attractive in its own unique way. But there are two of them, to whom; we all comedians look up to. Varun Grover and Anuvab Pal. These guys are like our ‘Gurus’ in stand up comedy.
6. Say someone is just getting into Stand-up comedy. What advice would you give to them?
Just perform as much as you can. Don’t wait for opportunities, but create opportunities. Perform in your schools, colleges, and anywhere you get chance to be on stage. Register in Open-Mic competitions. There aren’t financial rewards in that, but one gets good experience.
7. This entire buzz about star-ups and entrepreneurship these days. What is your take on people who follow their “Passion?”
I will say that, “One should not pressurize their passion, but let Passion call you.” In many cases, people who leave their jobs and start on their own aren’t even passionate about the endeavour they get into. It’s just they are dissatisfied with their boss or perks, that they make a career shift and put pressure on their passion.
In my case, if I would have left my job and focused entirely on comedy, I wouldn’t be half as successful today. Just stick with your passion alongside your work. Simple example I often give to people, “When in School, when you played cricket, did you leave studies?”
And I believe, if along with your work, you can have a girlfriend and still maintain relations you are born with, then why not passion? And when the right time comes, go along with that.
8. 3 things that define you?
My Father, my Family and my Upbringing. All around the world “Mom’s” are consistently sweet, sensitive and caring. It’s a father, I believe, whose personality that you most imbibe and reflect. Also my family values and my upbringing have an important role in making me who I am today.
9. What achievement do you seek in Life?
Comedy has given me undeserving and unparallel love. I want to earn ‘People’. Mujhe log ‘kamane’ hai, izzat kamana chahta hoon. I don’t want a million dollar bank balance when I breathe my last words; I want millions of people, who have admired my work, to attend my funeral!