Ahmed – the Comedian Shariff

The humdrum of modern machinery doesn’t let you to question the status quo. Nor do you have a chance to look out of your daily life, step away from the conveyor belt of birth-school-college-job-retire-death. You might think life is boring and there is no getting out of this routine but once in a while you would find out there is someone who stepped out from his/her comfort zone and pursued their dream. Ever thought how that person would be? What is his/her psyche? 
Stand up comedy is the in-thing now but very few people are really successful. It takes a lot of preparation, determination, talent and discipline to keep people engaged, laughing and love you. Ahmed is one of the few people in Bangalore who have successful acts. I had to chase Ahmed Shariff for over a month before we could meet for Talk To Tiger.
So let’s give it up for Ahhhhhhhhmed Shariff!

Welcome! This is a formal interview. So tell me about yourself!
Stands up, does a mock walk and sits down in a formal interview posture, hands in his lap, pretend clutching an imaginary file and all…. 
I am Ahmed Shariff and I am a Standup Comedian
Tell me about your childhood. Where were you born? 
I was born in 1985 in Bangalore, ancestry is from Mysore. As a baby, I was moved to my ancestral house in Mysore, where my grandpa was running an agarbatti (incense stick) factory. My mom stayed there while my dad worked in Saudi Arabia. I had respiratory problems because of all the soot in the house and one thing led to another and eventually a decision was made – my dad decided to get me and my mom over to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This is the country where I’d spend the next 11 years of my life. The earliest memories of my life are from there. I wish we had moved to a more liberal, more open-minded country. It was a really bad choice. I talk about it in my stand-up comedy routine now, rant about it (I am happy I got the material though). There were no movie theaters, very little in terms of entertainment. But on the upside, Saudi Arabia was way more developed than India was in the 80’s and 90’s. We had cars, air-conditioning, video game consoles, all kinds of appliances. My father may not have given me the best of everything, but he did give me the best he could afford.
There was a large Kannadiga Muslim community there and we didn’t feel alone. They even had a school for Indian expatriates – Embassy of India School, later changed to International Indian School. We rarely visited India, and I would see my Indian cousins and relatives between gaps of several years.
What did you study? 
KG-12 International Indian School, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Was a really good school. Expensive, but worth it! 8-9th moved back to India, joined Mysore Lions School, because we didn’t know better. Was a terrible school! Thankfully, for 10th my folks got me enrolled in Seventh Day Adventist School. The school was run by a principal and headmistress who were a married couple and they were strict but kind and I excelled in academics, sports and extra-curricular activities.
What were your dreams like? What are your hobbies like?
Coming from an Indian, middle-class, Muslim family my family’s dreams were typical – doctor, engineer or DIRT!! I on the other hand tied a towel at the back of my shirt and wanted to be Superman! But yeah, as I grew up, it became clear that highly-paid white collar professional was the way to go. But I was artistically inclined, I’m a right-brained person. My parents got me into engineering college and somehow I felt I didn’t fit there – I was happiest when I pursued artistic interests – drawing, painting, writing stories, poems and songs. That and my over-ambitious parents’ constant pressure didn’t help. I was very confused. But now, I’m glad I found my calling in life finally!

The pressure is still there for many kids. Glad you could come out. How did the present idea come up?
I am a stand-up comedian -a concept that is still very new and revolutionary in India. Not only do we have to develop the business, we also have to create the industry from scratch. But business is good, although unpredictable. In show business, it’s more about fame and hype  and unfortunately this takes precedence over actual talent some times. For my part, I try to put up a great show every time I perform, word-of-mouth will spread and I will become more famous and more in-demand.

How does your audience know you? Do you have a stage name?
Ahmed Shariff – my name, myself. I’m still not big enough to have a manager, so my audience/clients can reach me on social media and through phone/email.

Stand up performances are getting popular these days. What is the USP of your idea?
Every comedian is unique and we are all same that way. When I go up, I don’t just say joke#1, joke#2, joke#3… I try not to tell jokes, but rather funny stories, most of them true (with some comic exaggerations of course!) all centered around me. Rule of thumb – your material should be uniquely you. Even if I write my jokes on paper and give it to another comedian, he shouldn’t be able to perform it.
As regards to my act, I do a lot of tongue-twisting, hard-to-remember monologues and poems, the kind of stuff that makes audiences go, “How on earth did he memorize all that!?”
Tell me about the best experience you had after you started performing?
I have met some really awesome people through this and that’s the best part about the whole experience. I had 3 of the best shows of my life on May 04, 08 and 10 and there was a lot of positive feedback.

Can you share a clip with us?

Can we discuss financials? You can tell me. I prod him.
I have quite a few fans/followers on social media and earn a few lakhs a year. He tells me the figures and I go green. Hulk green.
What are the future plans?
Just keep doing what I do and get better at it.

Tell me about your family!
My mom, dad and sister still live in Mysore. They have their doubts about this and think it’s just a phase. Is it? I don’t know myself!

Do you have any pets?
As for pets, I used to have cats when i was living in my parents’ house. Now I live alone, can’t have a pet because I’m rarely at home. The closest thing I have to a pet is 3 street dogs who jump on me every time I come home!
Ahmed you have done what your heart told you to. Any message for our readers and new entrepreneurs?
“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin
I have read/seen the biographies of Eminem, Richard Branson and Arnold Schwarzenegger and greatly admire them and follow their advice.
Message for young people… White collar jobs are not as bad as the internet says they are, be grateful for the employment. However, if you do want to follow your dream, don’t jump in with both feet, make a gradual transition and do not quit your day job until you really make some significant progress or you’ll end up hating it!
Good luck Ahmed. Keep doing what you love and we already love you. 
You can mail Ahmed at ahmedshariffofficial@gmail.com or call 9945047740.

One Comment Add yours

  1. lol..3 stray dogs jumping at you or barking at you??william is definitely not missing u : )


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s