Every month we will be bringing you an exclusive insight of a day in the life of an influential personality or celebrity. Looking at what inspires them, defining the passion they have for what they do and exploring a day of their life.
Meet Aatif Nawaz. Comedian. Film Maker. Writer.
Aatif has shared the stage with comics like Omid Djalili, Shazia Mirza, Tim Vine, Nathan Caton, Steven K Amos, Anil Desai, Imran Yousuf and many others, performing across the country and around the World. The Asian Today sat down with the comedian to talk about sell out shows, culture and Cannes.
You had your first sold out show, Talk Roti to Me, at Leicester Square Theatre in London; how did you feel?
To have a sell out crowd at my first 60 minute solo comedy show was an incredible feeling. I’ve been on the scene for many many years – I really took my time to build a show I was confident could entertain all my fans – I’m thrilled with the support I got.
What was your reaction when you found out they had extended your show to three more dates?
The Leicester Square Theatre is an iconic venue for comedians. For the theatre to get behind me and have the confidence in my show to extend my run was so humbling. More than anything, I was grateful to everyone who bought tickets and came out to support the show and make it the kind of success that got everyone behind it.
You also made history by becoming the first British Pakistani comedian to do a run of performances. Proud moment?
Very proud. Pakistanis have a uniquely entertaining style of story-telling – and that’s not specific to performers. There are people selling Gol Guppas on the streets of Lahore that have the kind of passion and charisma that a lot of people don’t necessarily associate with Pakistan. I’ve always been proud of my Pakistani heritage and am really proud to join one of the most consistent line of entertainers in the world.
As an Asian, what was the reaction of your parents when they found out you wanted to do stand up?
I’m probably the least talented person in my own family. They’re all so funny and entertaining in their own way. But I’m really lucky to have a very supportive family who’ve always backed me and had confidence that I’d be successful in my own little way.
Other than a stand up comedian you are also a film maker having had your documentary, ‘Postcards from Lahore’ showcased at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Tell me about the film.
The film is basically a tour of one of my favourite cities in the world: Lahore. The idea was to share this beautiful city with a Western audience, one that wouldn’t necessarily consider a holiday to Pakistan. I was thrilled with the response to the film, not just from the Pakistani diaspora, but particularly from the Western audiences. I like to think in my own small way, I helped change a few false perceptions.
What would be your dream gig? Live at the Apollo?
I want to host the BAFTAS, the Oscars, the IIFA Awards and Wrestlemania 30. On a serious note, no matter how big or small the audience; it’s always a privilege to have a microphone in my hand and entertain people. To have someone, anyone, spend their own money and buy a ticket to watch you perform is a wonderful feeling – and one that I’m immensely grateful for.
After the run at Leicester Square Theatre, I’m hoping to take ‘Talk Roti to Me’ around the UK. I think audiences in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and other cities would enjoy the show and I’m keen to showcase it outside London. I have a few very exciting shows in April, including one with Pakistani comedy superstar Saad Haroon, so I’ll be very hard to avoid!