I like Shazia Mirza. I do. First she travels all the way to
to entertain us with live shows at LUMS and T2F. Then she travels all the way home to Ye Olde Pakistan to entertain us with her take on them. A take which, for those who happened to be present at either, doesn’t present her as a wit as much as it does a half wit. Then again, what is comedy these days if not a playing coshing of the truth while it whimpers gently and wraps its arms protectively around its head? England
Shazia Mirza: striking a pose for Ye Olde England
Ms. Mirza begins by recounting the strange case of what allegedly happened to her at a Pakistani airport. Someone asked her for a bribe. This is not going to be a shock to anybody who has ever traveled to a third world country in something other than a coffin. What is shocking is that she forks over $100, thereby drastically increasing the going rate and setting an unholy precedent for any number of corrupt immigration officials in sketchy airports across the globe.
If that isn’t enough to make the rest of us angry, consider this…
If that isn’t enough to make the rest of us angry, consider this…
"My first performance took place at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lums). The audience was made up mainly of lecturers and students, and as I arrived I was told: "Don't worry about performing – we've stepped up security because people knew you were coming.""
First of all, I’d like to humbly request the lecturers and students at the Lahore University of Management Sciences to stop fucking with their guests.
"The fact that there needed to be security at all to tell jokes indicated danger.Second, I’d like to suggest to Ms. Mirza that security is not also always equal to danger. In
is a sexually repressed country and that is the root of many of its problems." Pakistan
Then we move on to her claim that
Unfortunately, if it were true, countries that aren’t sexually repressed wouldn’t have problems, and leaders of nations that are fine with a bit of skirt for breakfast or the dance of the two-headed beast in public wouldn’t need to export their legions of horny young men to far climes to get off on acts of gratuitous violence.
In fact, if I might just run with this, the most evolved country in the world right now is probably
"The last time I performed inNow this is where things get really dodgy for me. Which
I was told: "You can talk about anything you like – religion, politics, drugs, you can swear and curse, just don't mention 'The Sex'." Any sexual words or connotations were banned – because in Lahore there is no mention of sex on television, radio, or in public." Pakistan
Neha at home
Ms. Mirza then went on...
“to perform two hours away inInteresting. Yes the doors were locked (so as the performance would not be disturbed by people trying to come in when there was no more space), and I saw two women in burqas – in an audience of 300 people – but I completely missed the security guards. Could it be that my jaded Pakistani eyes are so used to the sight of overgrown eagle scouts that I don’t notice them anymore? Or could it be that Ms. Mirza is unable to tell the difference between a guard and a valet? (Note to Ms. Mirza: the first has a rifle/the second a gun/the first is for shooting/the other for fun.)
. The audience consisted of young people, old people, women in burqas and groups of men – all sitting on the floor together. The doors were locked as soon as all the audience were in, and once again armed security guards stood outside.” Karachi
"On arrival I was told by the organizer: "The Pakistani Taliban are infiltrating down to the outskirts ofI would now like to humbly request the staff and owners of T2F to stop fucking with their guests.
now, so be careful with what you say. It's best not to talk about religion, or sex, and don't mention the word "gay"." Why? "Because gay doesn't exist in Karachi ," she explained. Pakistan believes it has freedom of speech, but the only freedom you have is to comply with the speech they want to hear. She continued: "There is a law against making any jokes about President Zardari. You cannot make any jokes about him in public and you are not allowed to text any jokes to your friends about him, otherwise you will be put in prison."" Pakistan
"When you tell a comedian not to do something, well. I made a joke about President Zardari. The audience loved it. They laughed like they had never laughed before."Actually, I think we laughed a lot harder when he first tried to get us to stop making jokes about him.
"All the things the audience laughed at are the things they are most repressed about. Jokes about sex, religion and politics got the most laughter."They did. But then again Ms. Mirza didn’t really make jokes about anything else. And there were some real zingers in there too. Such as:
'Extremists are told that when they get to heaven they’ll get 72 virgins. Have they ever thought about what a woman who remains a virgin her entire life probably looks like? Do you really want to go to heaven and have sex with 72 hairy bitches?'Or:
'Why do fundamentalists have to say ‘you will burn in hell? Is ‘burn’ really necessary? What else are you going to do in hell but burn?'She also did a great riff on anal sex. Which I personally do not think is funny.
"After the show I was invited to a party. I walked in, to be offered a joint of marijuana, followed by a joint of opium, followed by vodka and then a discussion on porn. I was asked: "What's your favorite porn film?" I have never watched porn. I tried to lie but I couldn't think of a porn movie, so I told the truth: I've never watched porn. This was met with "You've never watched porn? Let us show you some!" A collection of 600 films was pulled out from behind the bookcase. I was then offered a male Russian hooker for the night."At this point, the people of
Ms. Mirza ended her opinion piece by stapling once again onto our foreheads a label reading ‘the hypocrisy of a sexually repressed, censored society’, a label that no sane Pakistani would seriously argue with. How she came to that conclusion after two evenings in the company of people who are probably anything but, I don’t know, but as a writer I can completely empathize with her need to translate experience into material. For those who are offended by it, try to remember that she also sacrificed her mother.
‘My mother is a real namazi. She doesn’t pray five times a day. She prays twenty times a day. My problem with that is, the other day she said her prayers and then ripped the rickshaw driver off.’
As I said in the beginning, I like Shazia Mirza. I do. She can come back and poke fun at us anytime she likes as far as I’m concerned. And this time we’ll make sure those uniformed men are posted inside the bedroom instead of outside, and she won’t have to worry about the extremist she’ll have to have sex with when she gets to heaven.