by Ryan Meehan
Ahmed Bharoocha was born into a Irish Catholic/Pakistani Muslim household. He discovered his passion for entertaining at a young age making home movies with his older sister and his best friend. During college Ahmed got a job as a dishwasher at a comedy club in Rhode Island. He eventually made the move from dishwasher to the stage and hasn’t washed a dish since. He quickly made a name for himself and has become a favorite in the Boston Comedy scene and became Comic in Residence at the Comedy Studio in Cambridge. In 2005 Ahmed traveled with his older sister Maureen Bharoocha to Pakistan and filmed “Abajee”. “Abajee” has gone on to win several awards in film festivals all over the world, such as Best Actor in the Jordan Film Festival. In 2009 Ahmed was selected by Eddie Brill to perform at the Great American Comedy Festival, and selected to perform at the Boston Comedy Festival and the Seattle Comedy Festival. Ahmed is also a co-founding member of the online sketch group “Uncle Mustache”, and he’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: How did your parents meet, and based on what you have been told what was that wedding like? Are people ever surprised when you tell them that you are either not 100% of Muslim descent or have Irish Catholic genetics?
AB: They met working in a Ranch in Santa Barbara California. My mom was working the switch board and my dad was doing a ton of stuff from grounds keeping to waiting tables. I think he slept at the ranch overnight and so my mom used to get all these messages for a Omer Bharoocha and so she thought he must have been really full of himself. They finally met at a work party and somehow he won her over. They had three weddings. A legal one so they wouldn’t be living in sin then one for each side of the family. People are always interested when I tell them my mix.
RM: Where did you first come into contact with Eddie Brill? He’s an extremely seasoned comedian…Did he have any advice for you to that you really took to heart before GACF?
AB: He saw me at the Comedy Studio in Harvard Square in Cambridge. He has given me lots of great advice, they first thing I remember him telling me was that I held the mic too close to my face and that it blocked my mouth. I still have to remind myself of that a lot.
RM: For those who haven’t seen “Abajee”, what is the basic story behind that film? If you could go back and do anything differently about the work you did on that movie, what would it be and why?
AB: It’s based on a story my dad used to tell us when we were kids. He had a pet rooster that he thought was the best rooster there was so he took it to a cock fight but he was too young to realize that you are supposed to train the rooster. I won’t spoil the ending, but its not happy. I don’t think I would change anything. Mostly because my sister directed it and I was just there to help but I am really proud of the short.
RM: “Dead Kevin” is sketch troupe that you are in with fellow comedians Ryan O’Flanagan and Jack Robichaud…What would you say is your favorite episode from that entire project, and how long do you think the three of you can keep “Dead Kevin” going?
AB: It’s hard to pick a favorite because there are a bunch I like for different reasons but I usually say Hallway because it was so much fun to film and I love physical comedy. I think we can keep the group going for a long time. I’m not sure how long we’ll put out YouTube videos but we are good friends so I think we’ll always want to create funny stuff together.
RM: How much of your stand-up act is based around your ethnicity and/or how people respond to it when interacting with you? What do you think are the top three things people assume about your background when they first meet you without seeing your act?
AB: I’d say only about 10%. I don’t like it to take over my entire voice on stage but I do like to acknowledge it since it a part of me. But I always wanted to be able to talk about anything and not have to funnel it though “my crazy family” or my race. I actually have no idea what people assume about my background. I’ve always been curious to what people think of me at first but it’s something that you can rarely ever find out. I think the one thing is that everyone assumes I was raised Muslim. I actually went to catholic school and was just kinda raised that both religions or any religion was just a different way to believe in god. I think People assume when they hear my dad is Muslim that a Muslim man would demand that his kids were brought up Muslim but he was never forceful with religion. He always just wanted us to believe in something and be good.
RM: When you’re struggling with the frustration of writing jokes for new material in your stand-up, how does it compare to attempting to write jokes as a sketch comedy troupe where you have three people all writing at once?
AB: I’d say writing sketches for Dead Kevin is a lot easier than writing stand up. Mostly because we just think of a premise then goof off while the camera is on. Although with stand up you have complete control and with a sketch group you have to convince two other people that your idea is funny before you can give life to it.
RM: What’s the most bizarre thing that’s ever happened to you on stage? What did you do to get that situation under control, and if you could go back in time would you have handled it differently?
AB: Once I went up while my friend’s band was taking a break between sets. Most of the crowd was just talking and not listening (which was fair because they came for music and comedy was thrust upon them). I mentioned being Muslim and one old fisherman type guy started yelling from the back “Boo…Boo…We hate em, we take em out back and shoot him”. I think he was maybe one of only 4 people listening out of about 40 people so I think I tried to tell one more joke then just got off stage. I think if I could do it differently I wouldn’t have told the one more joke. I think that might have been the only time that I just left the stage before my time was done but I think it was the right thing to do since the only person listening was very aggressive.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
AB: Nothing special, just more stand up and more sketches. But I’m having fun with both so I hope people keep watching.
Ahmed on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ahmed.bharoocha
Ahmed on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AhmedBharoocha
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