I know what you’re going to say. “AdMin yOu sHouLd sEnD yOuR siStEr tO a dIrTy coMedY eveNt.” Sahi hai, I hear you. But if we can move past that for the duration of this article, that’d be ideal. See, I’d never been to a “dirty comedy” event before this. I’d heard a lot about such events, but never really got around to attending one.
Now that I have, I finally know what I’ve been missing out on.
With renowned comedian Shehzad Ghias Shaikh as its MC, the event consisted of four comedians interacting with the audience.
The event pushed the audience to step out of its comfort zone and have a jab and jest-filled conversation around something that is considered a taboo in our society.
With sex-positivity as its primary theme, the audience was in jitters as soon as Shehzad took to the stage. From having people yell out sex noises, to questioning couples about which stage they’d reached in their relationship, to playfully roasting an aged AKU doctor – there was a lot of banter.
Apart from Shehzad, other performers who graced the stage were:
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…and Muhammad Moiz.
Moiz performed in drag as his highly appreciated and incredibly sassy character, Pudina Chatni.
Since the theme pertained to sex, there was, obviously, a ton of conversation around it.
From jokes that revolved around cunnilingus, to dick jokes – nothing was off the table as far as the performances were concerned.
The most hilarious bit was definitely when the comics interacted with their audience. From asking women about their favorite thing to say during sex, to the comedians giving impromptu sex advice – it was all an absolute treat.
The highlight of the event was, undoubtedly, Pudina Chatni and her unapologetically bold performance.
Her unparalleled sass, combined with her rib-tickling anecdotes had the audience in fits. However, her appearance was also integral in terms of representation. It was, all in all, refreshing and downright hilarious.
I reached out to the performers to talk about why such events are important for us as a society. While talking about the aim behind such an event, here’s what Shehzad had to say:
“Akbar and I did the first dirty comedy night in 2013. Back then we just wanted to make a few sex jokes probably. Since then both of us have really grown as comedians and, probably more importantly, as individuals. Now it’s more about showing people you can be dirty, funny, but the jokes can still be, more or less, politically correct or at least offensive to the oppressors, not the oppressed.”
He also talked about how such events, and the jokes cracked under the umbrella of such events, send out an important message:
“I [perform] a joke [about how] I went to an all boys school and the most ironic [instance of] homophobia was when a guy told me, ‘If you call me gay I’ll fuck you up the ass.’ Sure the joke is crass, but it punches up, it ridicules notions of homophobia and toxic masculinity.”
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20 things I wish I knew in my 20s part 2: 11. Love others We are all in this together. Are you struggling? So is everyone around you. Empathy is the key to love 12. Love your body 700 for an all you can eat KFC? Bring it on. Sure that makes sense when you are a broke hungry college student but it all catches up with you. Love your body, know what you put in it and please have an active lifestyle. 13. Take perspective Your mind may be lying to you. Always reach out to those that you trust and get some perspective. 14. You can have all of one or some of all. Choose all of one. You have to focus on what matters. 15. TV won't go anywhere You can always watch it later but that train ride to Karachi with your friends leaves in an hour – Go Simran live your life! 16. Don't be afraid to be different Life will not be fun if we are all the same and trust me, everybody tries to make everyone else conform. Don't fall for it. You are you – shine in that light that you radiate. 17. Don't grow up too soon I know you can't wait to get out of college and be an independent adult but ask all those adults, they would love to be back in college with their friends. 18. Trust your instincts It is okay to say no. It is okay if you don't want to do what everyone wants you to. Your instincts are strong – trust them. 19. Log chootiye hotay hay Millions of dreams have died due to 'log kya kahen gai' – these log do not exist and if they do, they don't matter. Don't give up your dreams because of people you don't know. 20. It is okay to leave Probably my hardest realization in life. Some things, and sadly some people. are toxic for you. No matter the amount of time you have spent with them, if they are toxic for you – it is okay to leave. You cannot help anyone else till you do not help yourself. Practice self-compassion and know it is okay to be less than perfect. Take care of yourself. It all works out at the end – one way or another. Much love <3 #comedy #life #love #karachi #pakistan#inspired #dailyins #motivate #motivational #lifelessons#teenagelife #gratitude #friendslikefamily#lifehacks #hacks #20things #young#motivated #dailyquotes
The fact that a character in drag was included as a part of the troupe is not a small deal. Here’s what Shehzad had to say about the same:
“On TV you’ll find jokes about wives, and plays often rely on a transgender character as the butt of the joke. Drag comedy inverses that entire dynamic.”
Speaking to Muhammad Moiz about his performance as Pudina Chatni, and about the show in general, here’s what he shared:
“Pakistan is an amazing place and we have a lot of comedic history. Being a South Asian country, you see a lot of gender fluidity in our art. Moin Akhtar and Hina Dilpazeer have done gender non-conforming roles, or hyper exaggerated ones for comedy, and have been greatly loved.”
“This has been common in theater and stage plays as well. We also have had a lot of trans folks in street theater and otherwise. So doing Miss Chatni for me is just taking that legacy forward. What I do differently is that my character is more stand-up orientated, and more in touch with the global and urban pulse while being an authentic true desi. And I’m glad I’ve been able to land that well.”
“All folks in Pakistan, especially young people, are increasingly looking for healthy outlets for entertainment. In addition, sex is a topic that has always had an element of shock and comedy to it. So doing dirty comedy as Miss Chatni is super fun because I enjoy doing it and the audience enjoyed being a part of it. And because I’m able to pack a relatable, yet radical sex-positive and body-positive spin to it, I guess it does something good too.”
The mere discussion around sex in Pakistan is shut down, or shoved under the carpet with a brutal force. With a lack of awareness overall, and a stigma attached to the topic itself, the comedy lounge was no small risk. However, the fact that these events take place quite often, albeit with a niche audience, goes to show that there is a part of our society that is willing to be more accepting and tolerant towards these previously-shunned discussions.
Talking to Umer about how humor helps in conveying this message forward, here’s what he had to say:
“In a place where you are scared to voice out opinions in return for death threats, comedy lounge comes in where people come together to listen to jokes that stir thoughts about differentiating between right and wrong.”
“Sex is natural. Accept it and discuss it. From villages to urban areas, [from] Muslims to non-Muslims, every child knows about it, albeit from friends or desi baba. Don’t push children out of the room while watching Titanic, pre-iceberg scene. In fact educate them so they are aware of this taboo called sex.”
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Adding to the same, Akbar Chaudry also talked about how such shows encourage people to lighten up:
“Dirty comedy tests the limit of what people are willing to pay for, listen to, and laugh at. The jokes are actual jokes and they aren’t just relying on vulgarity or crass things. They’re genuine jokes written with a purpose. The intention is to make people laugh.”
Akbar also mentioned how such shows are becoming increasingly well-received, with dirty comedy shows selling out quicker than normal ones.
Additionally, he talked about how while these shows make people uncomfortable, they’re also a key catalyst in helping in normalizing such things.
“When we go out to perform or learn comedy, people are surprised that a comedy scene exists in Pakistan. The international perception is such where comedy is not associated with Pakistan. Such events help us say that we’re normal too – we laugh, we cry. It also gives people something to do over the weekend instead of just going out to eat.”
Akbar also stated how audience members turn around and say that such shows are cathartic and a source of relief.
“If we don’t address the elephant in the room, it’ll always be a source of discomfort and a taboo.”
Having finally attended this event, I can vouch for how cathartic and relief-inducing it truly can be. As a nation, we tend to take ourselves too seriously. Perhaps, with events like these, we can learn to lighten up, step out of our bubbles of comfort and have healthy discussions, with humor as our aid.
Cover image via Bilal Hassan