Interview: Sami Shah

27 March 2017

Sami Shah was the first person in Pakistan to perform a one-hour stand-up comedy show. Incredibly, it was Sami’s first time doing stand-up.

“If it had of gone badly, I would never have done it again,” Sami says.

We’re all blessed that his Pakistani audience took such a shining to him. A remarkable tale of events saw Sami leave Pakistan for remote Western Australia, only to land in Melbourne – and into the ABC where we sit to discuss Sami’s show at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Punching Down.

The title comes from Sami’s belief that every comedian tries, “punching-up”, when really they should be “punching everybody within reach”.

Coming off the back of a 4.5-star review at The Perth Fringe Festival, Sami’s love of comedy takes everybody in vicinity on his wave of laughter. Sami’s jokes jolt my 5.30pm brain back into concentration. The punch lines seem to manifest out of nothing – such is the sign of a natural comedian.  Mid-way through the interview Sami’s seven-year old daughter asks her Dad to open a packet of crisps – Sami struggles momentarily before the bag explodes causing his daughter to smile, highlighting Sami’s inevitable disposition to making people laugh.

Sami says stand-up comedy was “a calling”.  His eyes dart and weave through my brain, picking on how I’ve read that statement. “I know that sounds really pretentious, but you have to have the right levels of low-self esteem and narcissism to be a stand up comedian.” I burst out with laughter. A disgruntled ABC worker looks down the hallway almost begging to be in on the joke.  On the way out I tell him he can be, if he goes to Sami’s show at this year’s Comedy Festival. Sami is one to watch as he makes his mark on the Australian entertainment scene. The feelings of those who I utter his name to quickly becomes palpable – Sami is destined for comedic greatness.

You can buy tickets to Sami’s show at Ticketmaster.Com

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