Many comedians are courageous, but it takes a special time of spirit to begin your stand-up career while in prison. Ali Siddiq has just that type of spirit. He stood in front of a judgmental crowd and petitioned for their time and attention and has been captivating audiences ever since. Headlining multiple US Comedy Clubs and others around the world Ali has shown his ability to engage diverse audiences leaving many on their feet talking everything from fatherhood, politics, grocery shopping and education to Nigerian stripper associations. The most recent winner of Comedy Central’s Up Next Competition, Houston’s Ali has appeared on Showtime’s Ladies Night Out Tour, Centric’s 2014 All Star Taping, BET’s Comic View and HBO’s Def Comedy Jam. We’re very excited to have Ali Siddiq as our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: Who was the first comic you remember seeing when you were younger that you can honestly say had a lasting impact on the way you viewed the entertainment industry as a whole?
AS: I didn’t see anyone…I heard Richard Pryor on an album…Then when I saw Def Comedy Jam, that gave me drive to start…But I would have to say Rodney Dangerfield. He made me see that the comedy game doesn’t have to be a selfish thing
RM: When you got busted selling coke, you went to prison for six years…At what point did it hit you that you were going to actually be there that long; and for those who haven’t heard the story what was the moment when you realized that you wanted to do comedy when you got out?
AS: When they said 15 years in the Court room, that’s what I thought I had to do and that’s a long time in itself when you are 19 going in…I realized it when I was asked the all-too-famous prison question “Man, what are you going to do when you get back out into the world”.
RM: There’s a great bit of yours about YouTube where you talk about “Faking it til you make it” (Insert link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-PiQ_G6RqY) Did you ever feel like you were taking that approach towards doing comedy when you were first starting out? If so, when did you hit the point where you realized that there was absolutely no “faking it” and it was no longer an act but instead a well -rehearsed program of well-planned bits?
AS: I never faked it…I just learned the process of how to transfer real-life material on to the stage.
RM: You appeared on a recent episode of the Comedy Central show “This is not Happening” hosted by Ari Shaffir…When they contacted you about appearing on that program, did you know right away which story you were going to tell? Is performing in an environment which is essentially is the same as performing in a round something that was significantly different for you given the fact you are used to performing at comedy clubs?
AS: I have never performed that story in the club…The only place that I had ever told the story was to my friends in the Barber Shop…I told the story because they ask people to do a true story, not a bit.
RM: What is the central focus of the material that will comprise the taping of your new hour “I Keep Making Mistakes”? Why did you choose the Houston Improv as the venue; and what is your best memory out of all of those years working that club?
AS: “I Keep Making Mistakes” was and is based on stuff I keep doing…Things I did trying to look in to why with a crowd of people doing my normal self medication…I love the people at the Improv, it’s home to me.
RM: To what degree is your daughter aware of what you do for a living? When you are coming up with new bits do you ever stop and consider that someday she will see one of your clips online, or do you not worry about things like that and just fire away?
AS: My daughter is fully aware of what I do for a living, it’s the only thing she has ever known me to do…I have no worries about her seeing anything I have ever done, but she will learn about growth from my mistakes.
RM: Which aspect of the writing process to you tend to struggle with the most and why? Conversely, which aspect of writing jokes would you consider to be your specialty; and why do you think you excel at that particular component of the practice?
AS: The part of writing that gets me is finding a place to write… with so many things to do I need a quiet place to write and think…I think the jokes that I write have layers to them and points…I think that’s my specialty: Knowing how to layer stories…
RM: What’s up next for you in 2016 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
AS: My Comedy Central album “Damaged Goods”, and two more albums after the first one drops. I want to write a book this year, and I’d like to have more people listen to my Pandora station with my old albums.
Official Website: http://www.alisiddiq.com/
Ali on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ali.siddiq.92
Ali on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ali_Speaks
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