Comedian Haris Khan certainly can!
Article: Destiny Kaus – A&C Writer
Haris Khan, a University of Regina science student and budding comedian, is putting on a show Oct. 20 to raise money for cancer research. Khan has done fundraisers like this before, and he will do it again!
He was more than happy to talk about how he got started in comedy, his upcoming show, and his future plans.
“I was a class clown. That’s the reason I was the most outstanding person in my class, because half the time I was kicked out of the class and my parents would be called, so I was always a trouble maker.”
If only every troublemaker could channel their inner comedian and make something of themselves.
Khan first stepped out on a stage when he was in grade four; he told a few jokes at a culture event. Then, Khan began attending the University of Regina. Apparently the time between grade four and university remains a mystery. One of his classmates encouraged him to become a stand-up comedian. Flabbergasted at the thought, Khan doubted himself.
“I was like, that’s the hardest thing to do. That is the hardest thing in the world to be a comedian because you’re on the stage by yourself making people laugh. I thought I could never do that.”
His friend kept encouraging him until he finally took a risk in March 2010, when he stepped out on stage at the Exchange Club and wowed the audience with his spontaneous five-minute set.
“It was not even professional. It was like amateur stuff, but people were laughing so hard. I forgot my jokes and I told them, ‘Oh I forgot my jokes’ and they thought it was part of my act! I had such a great feeling after that because I made people laugh.”
Khan believes that making people laugh is a form of charity in itself. I wholeheartedly believe this to be true as well! After all, somebody famous once said that laughter is the best medicine.
When Khan was a small child, his parents introduced him to donating. They would ask him to deliver a cheque here and there or drop off old clothes to various organizations. In 2012, Khan decided to put the “fun” into fundraising by organizing a charity comedy show called Stand Up For the Homeless People.
“I read a news article about a homeless guy who was struggling in Saskatoon and he had a daughter and there was no shelter that provided for a male homeless person with kids. And, that story touched my heart because the guy was living with his daughter in his car. Probably that morning, I made the decision I was going to do a show.”
Right then and there, Khan planned to do a comedy routine no matter how many people came. To his pleasant surprise, his show was a great success. He received funds to support the homeless population and positive feedback to encourage his comedic journey.
“According to the Salvation Army, that was the first show of its kind in Regina,” Khan explains. Apparently, no one else in Regina was brilliant enough or had the gumption to follow through with a fundraising comedy show, like Khan did. Hats go off to you, Mr. Funny Man.
After Stand Up For the Homeless, Haris Khan put on Stand Up Against Domestic Violence, Stand Up For the Creative Kids, Stand Up for Alberta Flood Victims, and Stand Up for Animal Welfare, where all the tickets completely sold out. In less than a year, Khan has raised over $10, 000.
Normally, people would not find these issues funny, per se. But, when Khan revs his creative motors, anything can happen. He takes touchy subjects and makes them approachable through his comedic art form.
“It’s a form of art because you entertain people and at the same time you express what you feel … you can talk about certain things that an ordinary person would be hesitant to talk about.”
In his past, Khan was racially discriminated against. But, instead of bottling up all those racist comments, he uses them as material for his comedy skits to laugh at the issue and also to educate people on racism.
[pullquote]“It’s a form of art because you entertain people and at the same time you express what you feel … you can talk about certain things that an ordinary person would be hesitant to talk about.”[/pullquote]
“Hey, I’m a brown guy. Mostly, in my acts I talk about stereotypes, so it’s kind of breaking the ice among people to feel comfortable to take things in a funny way instead of insulting [way].”
Ironically, in his past, Khan + Jokes-at-a-culture-event-in-grade-four = hilarious, and now Khan + Culture-jokes-in-Saskatchewan = even more hilarious. Not only does Khan raise awareness for social issues through his jokes, but he also raises a heck of a lot of funds for various organizations. On Oct. 20, he plans to do just that in his upcoming Stand Up Against Cancer show.
“The reason I chose cancer [was because] my grandmother passed away from breast cancer in September of last year,” Khan explains.
Originally, Khan planned to do the show in September, but he moved it to October. With October being breast cancer awareness month, Khan says that “October is the perfect month.”
This upcoming show will feature various comedians from Regina, including headliner Marcus Ryan, and will host several local Saskatchewan celebrities and offer a silent auction.
Khan says, “We’ll be donating the funds to Terry Fox, which specifically focuses on cancer research, and the Canadian Cancer Society.”
This anniversary special will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Education Auditorium 106 at the University of Regina. Advanced tickets are $10, tickets at the door are $15, and students living on campus only pay $5. Tickets are now available at the South Residence Office.
Ah, but of course, this show and past shows like it, have dealt Haris Khan some challenging cards.
“Sometimes I have to do everything like get the sponsors, which I always get the sponsors, book a venue, book the comics or entertaining, sell the tickets, raise funds, take care of the accounting side and then donate.”
While Khan would rather just put on a show and market the event, he takes everything in stride and works his butt off no matter what the situation. This hard work ethic stems from his parents, who did not entirely support his passion for comedy in the beginning. Coming from Pakistan and a Pakistani family, Khan’s parents felt he should pursue his schooling and a job in engineering rather than a career in comedy.
“In the beginning my dad was a little upset.”
His mother was a tad more supportive, but also laid down the law that he needed to focus more on his studies than on his comedy.
“That’s how brown parents are. They want you to be an engineer, a doctor … not the cabby … but, probably engineer or doctor. These are the two things they would prefer.”
Despite this tension, Khan pressed onward in his comedy career, and, once he made it into the media, his parents finally realized that he was successful. When Khan calls his mom to tell her how his shows go and how much money he raises, she will say, “Oh excellent! Excellent! But, how’s school going?”
As for his future plans, Khan plans to graduate, “work for a bit, and at the same time pursue [his] hobby.”
Khan also revealed his big dreams.
“Probably once I graduate from the U of R I will probably move to Montreal to pursue my passion and see how it works. So far, I’m doing really well with the comedy thing. The comedy career is going better than my schooling career.”
There is no doubt about it; Khan wants to be a comedian. His ultimate goal in life is to make people laugh and to follow his passion. Power to ya, Haris! You Khan do it!