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’Stand-up an acquired skill’

By Willie Gordon Suting
Zakir Khan is a master storyteller who makes humour out of obsessions and oddities of contemporary society.
On November 25 at U SosoTham Auditorium, he ridiculed the menace that grips most of us — the paunch. Our concern to look good physically from head to toe does make us panic when we see ourselves in the mirror having a big stomach.
The influence of Hollywood, Bollywood and the media also does make us want to look like celebrities. Hence, we do feel inferior when we are short when our friends are tall etc.
Bullying is one of the most serious issues, especially in colleges. Khan satirises bullying pointing out its evils on social media.
Khan had the audience in splits as his jokes were based on topics familiar to life. Facebook is a place where most people meet their future partner. But it can also lead to depression if supposing the person comes to know that his old love is married. Such posts are made known to the world, which is also a defence mechanism for self-preservation. Khan says Facebook had made many people depressed who tried to find love online.
The best way to laugh is when you first laugh at yourself. Khan developed an intimacy with the audience as they related with each of his jokes. The audience felt like they knew Khan as the boy who grew up in Indore for his storytelling were about things familiar and universal.
Listening to Khan narrate a story felt like watching a movie or listening to a screenplay as he scrupulously took efforts to delve and describe details of the surroundings, the noise and the people in it.
“Stand-up comedy to me is as basic as meeting a friend, trying to entertain him with many jokes. It is where I take full control,” says Khan in an interview backstage.
When asked to describe his style, he says, “As you witnessed, the themes and subjects I touch reflect my opinions. But of which some people might tend to disagree. So much is at stake when I’m performing.”
“I work with storytelling where there are narratives of the hilarity of online relationships and the modern world’s obsession with self-image, among others. Sixty per cent of the jokes are planned but I also tend to improvise slipping in new stories I can remember.”
The 30-year-old who had performed in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, recalls his first gig at an Open Mic in a café in Delhi which the audience loved.
When asked how he learned stand-up comedy, Khan says, “I feel it is not a gift or talent for it is a skill that can be practised. Stand-up doesn’t come naturally to most people.”
Khan humbly says though he had performed in all major cities of India, yet he feels he still hasn’t made it big. “My biggest achievement is yet to come,” says the young man who jokes in Urdu.
The comedian plans to perform again in Shillong if offers come his way.
“The Shillong audience was wonderful! I will come back here,” adds Khan.

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