Urooj Ashfaq Talks MICF Debut and Edinburgh Win

Mumbai-based writer and comedian Urooj Ashfaq brings her refreshing and relatable show Oh No! To Melbourne audiences this autumn. Catalyst’s Soumil Sawmill caught up with Urooj to talk about comedy, her recent win at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards and her run-in with one of today’s greatest female comedians.  

Soumil: Urooj, I want to start by saying congratulations! How did being the first India-based artist to win the Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards last year feel? 
Urooj: Thank you so much. That is so kind of you to say. It feels great!!! Who doesn’t like getting an award? Great boost to my ego, something my family and friends must deal with now.  

Soumil: You were in the UK when you won, who did you ring first back home and what was their reaction? 
Urooj: The first people I rang were my parents and my sister. I called them immediately to say that I won this award (and then I had to explain to them what it was); they were really cute and happy about it. 

Soumil: You started in Mumbai, toured the UK, and are now bringing Oh No! to Melbourne, do you think the way you perform changes as per the city you are in? Is the city a determining element in how you prepare for a show? 
Urooj: My show changes based on whether I’m doing it for an all-Indian audience or a mixed audience. Indian audiences don’t need context for any of the jokes or references, but a mixed audience does. I write new jokes to establish context for mixed audiences, I would say that’s as far as the difference goes! 

Soumil: Which is your favourite city to perform in and why? 
Urooj: Mumbai all day every day! It’s my home ground, it’s where I learned the ABCs of comedy, it makes me feel like an excellent comedian some days and humbles me on other days. I love everything about the audience in Mumbai! They work hard all day and they come for a show in the evening, and they are so game to let us experiment, they understand comedy and they aren’t as easily offended. I love performing in Mumbai. 

Soumil: You looked like you were on the verge of a breakdown when you met Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and I am sure you didn’t want that moment to pass. How did that happen? 
Urooj: Really? I thought I looked so cool. Just kidding. Yes, I looked like I was about to pass out and I did after she left. I have never been so nervous around anyone, but it’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge!!! I initially met her at the Indian Consulate when artists were invited to lunch, then she came to watch my show. 

Soumil: What are the few things you want to let audience members watching you perform for the first time in Melbourne know? What can they expect? 
Urooj: Hello audience members you can expect an hour packed with Jokes! Jokes! Jokes! and some sad stuff from my childhood so you can understand the origin story of how and why I became a comedian. 

Soumil: How does it feel to run your special at Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Australia’s largest cultural event? 
Urooj: It feels fantastic! I am excited. I have never been to or performed in Australia before, so this is something I am looking forward to in so many ways! I hope I don’t have to meet too many spiders. 

Soumil: Which shows are you planning to watch at the MICF 
Urooj: ALL, but mainly I look forward to fellow Mumbai-based comedian Anirban Dasgupta’s show! He is excellent and I would say everyone should go check him out.  

I am also excited to watch Catherine Bohart, Tom Walker, Kanan Gill and Azeem Banatwalla. 

You can catch Urooj Ashfaq’s hour-long comedy special Oh No! from 28th March to 7th April at Melbourne International Comedy Festival. 

By Soumil Sawmill Catalyst Editor
Edited By Hannah Elizabeth Robbins

Header image via supplied (Modified)

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