The city always seems a little more cheerful when comedian Saad Haroon goes on tour. This time, his sold-out Kata-Kat comedy tour happened to coincide with Valentine’s Day, so the laugh doctor doubled as love doctor and welcomed a crowd of singles, couples and the current desi word for anything in between. The result was a crowd that included some couples who had been married up to 46 years, loads of bankers, women married to bankers, people who work at AKU, some guy-hating 16-year-olds, girlie groups and even a gate-crashing six-year-old!

“I wanted to do a show where those who don’t have love could laugh at it and what it means in our society, and for those who have it I could delve into the specific nature of the love between those two people and find comedy within that,” said Haroon during a post-gig chat with Images on Sunday. “We take love so seriously so much of the time. I used comedy to get a different emotional response out from the audience.”

With the only other Valentine’s Day alternatives in the city being a dinner or a movie (both of which could be combined with the 90-minute laughfest), a Valentine’s Day comedy night really did sound fun and different, and this was reflected in the social media hype.

Opening act Akbar Chaudhry — who later doubled as back-up guitar player — was fabulous. His much shorter routine was non-stop laughs and ranged from topics such as gay desi marriage nomenclature to his own experience of dating in Karachi. Definitely a comedian and entertainer to watch out for!

The crowd was warmed up and in happy spirits in time for Haroon’s entrance. By the time the comedian made his famous dolphin show joke, the laughs were coming fast and furious. The entire routine was from a Pakistani perspective ranging from the dirtiness of road directions (he didn’t bother to mention the dirtiness of the roads themselves) to the Clifton/Defence bubble, to Eid, to airports, to hiding money when going to the bank, to ethnic divisions, to the low profile he had to keep when his Burqa Woman (a play on Pretty Woman) video went viral and the ensuing overwhelming volume of hate mail and threats.

Haroon, who lives in New York, enjoys talking and joking about dating and love in Pakistan. “Love in Pakistan is a James Bond movie. How you fall in love and meet that person; the spy games and espionage. In my routine, I’m telling everyone the plot; this is how you date and sneak around. I’m talking about a subject you don’t really talk about on stage,” he says.

This is Haroon’s 10th year of doing stand-up and his routine reflected “the old, the new and the bold.” He shares, “I love making people laugh; my job is to go out and make people happy, and that’s an amazing feeling to have. You can get addicted to the kind of connection you have with people.”

The journey to this moment wasn’t all fun and games. It was really a challenge for him to go “off-road” from his conservative business family’s background to do comedy. “There is a sense in our community that if you are a doctor, your children should be doctors and if you are a businessman, your children should go into business. To reverse your car and drive it backwards or to take on a different career is unheard of and that is what comedy was to my parents,” adds Haroon.

Some of the best parts of Haroon’s routine were and are the interplays the quick-witted entertainer has with random members of the audience. For this show, the entire family and in-laws of Pakistani comic Saad Sarwana came out and were seated in the front row. Whether they were there to routine-spy or simply to enjoy a night of comedy we’ll never know, but they were great sports about Haroon’s teasing.

Haroon took out his comic claws when a six-year-old gate crashed the event, having come with his parents. Terms on the back of the ticket clearly stated: “Term 10. Persons under the age of 15 are not allowed to view the show.” In fear of gate-crashing children, Haroon had inserted an additional rule on the card: “Term 11. Children Under 16 are not allowed.” Somehow, both these rules were ignored and as the adorable six-year-old tried to hide from view in his father’s lap, even the dim lights of the PACC auditorium couldn’t hide him from the entertainer’s eagle eyes who went on to give the parents a hard time by ensuring the level of comedy became less family-friendly, before charmingly making it up thereafter. “If we had even made all the terms at the back of the card state over and over again that no one under 16 is allowed, there is still a high probability that a kid would have shown up. People have their own rules in Pakistan so I make it awkward for them by using my comedy to show them it’s not appropriate to have kids at an adult comedy show.”

Quite a few things about Pakistani couples came to light on this night of both comedy and love: usually only one member of a couple can remember the love they have while together; boys don’t visit IVS enough and are simply blurs on bikes driving by to the lonely girls who are studying there; and primarily, bankers buy tickets to comedy in Pakistan. However, one thing is without a doubt: there is nothing nicer than a good laugh with the one you love!

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