by Ryan Meehan
Fahim Anwar is a Los Angeles-based standup comedian, actor and writer. Formerly an aerospace engineer at Boeing, Fahim traded the cubicle for the stage and has never looked back. He has performed as one of the “New Faces” at the Just For Laughs in Montreal. A regular in the L.A. comedy scene, and a finalist at NBC-Universal’s Stand-Up for Diversity Showcase. In 2010 Fahim made his television debut with a large guest starring role on NBC’s Chuck. Most recently, he’s recurred in season 3 of FOX’s Lie to Me. Fahim was a series regular on season 2 and season 3 of MTV’s Disaster Date, appeared on Comedy Central’s Russell Simmons Presents: Stand Up from the El Rey Theatre, and in season 4 of Californication on Showtime. He also recently provided commentary on various Celebrity Oops! specials on E! Entertainment. Fahim continues to write and star in his own series of internet shorts and has had multiple shorts go viral, with many being featured on Break, Digg and Reddit and he’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: How would you describe your first open mic? Which of your jokes really hit with the audience; and what was it about that whole experience that made you want to do it again?
FA: My first open mic was in Seattle at the Comedy Underground in Pioneer Square in the summer of 2002. I think I did 5 minutes. It wasn’t bad and it wasn’t great. I honestly can’t remember what jokes I might have had in that set. I obviously enjoyed it, because I kept returning over the summer and started branching out to new clubs and spots around town.
RM: Is there anything that you can take away from your education in engineering and apply it to standup comedy?
FA: I think the takeaway for me from engineering was maybe a way of thinking and understanding structure. Ideas will come to me and I’m pretty good and discerning whether this idea is best suited for sketch, standup, a tweet, etc… And then one step beyond that is finding the right words, plan of attack to frame this idea. Concepts are almost always funny, 90% of standup is making sure nothing gets lost in translation. I think the work ethic from engineering has served me well in comedy too.
RM: Speaking of career choices, you’ve mentioned before that your parents were less than thrilled you decided to pursue work within the entertainment industry. Do they still feel the same way now that you have numerous television credits to your name and they’ve seen you in action?
FA: They’ve let up a bit, but I think part of that is time tempering them. You can’t maintain that level of rage for 12 years. They’re always happy when I book something, but then the job ends and they’re worried about the next one. It’s just such a different lifestyle and profession that I think it’s hard for them to wrap their brains around it. I know their concerns are rooted in wanting security for me. I’ll book some acting things here and there, but once I get something consistent with a steady paycheck I think they’ll breathe a sigh of relief.
RM: What do you consider to be the most important aspect of joke construction? Do you feel like you are at the point where you are excelling at that aspect, or do you feel you’ll always be chasing the pursuit of perfecting it?
FA: I have two thoughts on this. Number one, joke about what YOU believe to be funny. Not what you think will get a laugh. You can tell the difference between a comic doing what he truly believes is funny and someone just trying to do well. If you’re writing something and it feels too easy, it’s for a reason. You may get laughs, but you’ll be forgettable. No one will be able to recite one joke from your set. Part of this will come with time and experience but having that as a compass from the outset is already a huge step up. Second thought on this, EARN your act out. I’ll see a guy on stage flapping around like an eagle and I can tell he just wanted to flap around like an eagle so he formed the flimsiest of premises around it. The joke or premise should stand on its own and the act out is just seeing it to fruition. It’s seasoning not the steak.
RM: What was the best part about Just For Laughs Montreal? Was that pretty much what you expected, or did the whole event turn out to be much different than what you had originally anticipated?
FA: The best part about JFL is not having to worry about auditioning for New Faces when it comes around every year because you’ve already done it. I’ve done JFL twice now. First for New Faces, then last year for a run of shows and some Comedy Network taping. The second time was more fun because you’re there as a working comic, you’re getting paid and they put you up in a nice hotel. For New Faces, they keep you off site in a crummier hotel with all the other New Faces. It’s a very hyped about show as well, so you’re worried about crushing your 7 minute set and feel like this will make or break you even though it really doesn’t matter.
RM: You were on seasons two and three of MTV’s “Disaster Date”, a hidden camera show where an undercover actor goes on a date with someone and exhibits three characteristics that they cannot stand. In real life, what three things would annoy you more than anything in the world if you were set up to go on a date with a complete stranger?
FA: 1) If she talked about acting class for way to long. 2) Her wanting to get into standup. 3) Asked me how I know Chris D’Elia.
RM: What is “Goatface” and what do we need to know about that project?
FA: Goatface is my sketch group with Aristotle Athiras, Asif Ali and Hasan Minhaj. We’ve kind of pumped the breaks for a bit. Everyone is so busy with projects that it’s been tough to get together and produce sketches like we used to. Maybe in the future we’ll pump more out. We’ll see.
RM: Which comedy club in the Los Angeles area would you say is your home club? What is it about that place that makes you feel so comfortable on stage?
FA: The Comedy Store is my home. I love that place. It is my favorite club in LA to perform at as well. It’s dark and intimate. The room isn’t small or big, just right. Sometimes I’m up there and I feel like I’m traveling into the deep recesses of my brain because the environment allows for it. You have to be a human being first and comedian second in the Original Room at the Comedy Store. Audiences can sniff out an act. You have to be very real. They are also very much artists first. I can experiment and get as weird as I want over there. Lance Cantstopolis was born in that room. YouTube him.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
FA: I’m going to be on the new season of MTV’s Guy Code and I’ll also be on TruTV’s How To Be A Grown Up. And you can count on me performing standup/producing sketches throughout the year as well.
Official Website: http://www.fahimanwar.com/
Fahim on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Official-Fahim-Anwar-Fan-Club/47416616885
Fahim on Twitter: http://twitter.com/fahimanwar
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