Asian people have never really broken through in the way black comedians in Britain and Jewish comedians in America have into the stand-up circuit.
There have been individual acts – Shazia Mirza, Paul Sinha – but never in quantity or reputation to constitute a movement. Paul Chowdhry and Imran Yusuf are hoping to redress the balance.
Both are on tour this summer, and with Yusuf’s winning performance on the Michael McIntyre Comedy Roadshow it is perhaps now time for an Asian comedy scene.
Chowdhry believes that comedy is colour blind, but is pleased to see a sea change coming. “When I was growing up, I watched all kinds of comedy, I didn’t really look at them and think they’re not Indian; I just thought it was funny. Morecambe and Wise, Benny Hill, Blackadder, even the likes of Bernard Manning,” says Chowdhry.
“There wasn’t Asian comedy when I was growing up. I believe comedy is colour blind. So when I was funny, it was just with my friends, I wasn’t doing Asian jokes, I was just being me. You could say I was influenced by comedy. Life is my inspiration. Things happen to us all the time, being a comic you just look at it from a different angle.”
Time Out heralded Yusuf’s breakout as “the birth of a new comedy star. Intelligent, thought-provoking and laugh out loud funny it’s a glorious debut”.
Imran Yusuf, York Hyena Lounge, May 8, Leeds Hi- Fi Club, May 9, Bradford Alhambra, May 13. Paul Chowdhry, Bradford St George’s Hall, June 18.