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Comedian Haris Khan jokes across the world

It’s international tour time for this champ

So many laughs. / Atif Khurshid - InFocus
So many laughs. / Atif Khurshid – InFocus

Haris Khan is a comedian, university student, world traveller, and unofficial ambassador. Not many can boast of such accomplishments in their lifetime, let alone before they graduate.

Having been in the comedy scene for almost five years, Khan is in the midst of his first international tour. He is currently in Lahore, Pakistan and will be spending time in Dubai and Oman before returning back to Saskatchewan in March.

However, Khan’s tour is about more than comedy.

“I do get pleasure if I help somebody else,” says Khan. “I thought [charity work] would be a great thing to do while doing shows. I do have time these days, so I am donating my time and using my talent to educate people.”

Khan has always coupled his comedy shows with charity work, donating money from ticket sales to non-profits. While on tour, he doesn’t have the same resources to donate money, so he is giving his time as a comedian and public speaker. In Dubai, he will be volunteering as the headliner at the university’s 5 Days of Homelessness Event (yes, they have one too!).

While on tour, Khan admitted that it can be difficult getting people to come to shows. His usual jokes that are centred around multiculturalism fit well with audiences in Canada, but he has found audiences in Pakistan respond better to jokes that compare Western and Eastern culture.

“Every community or culture has a different sort of humour, so in Pakistan it is totally different,” says Khan. “Here, people are quite sensitive about religion; you cannot talk openly or you may get in trouble.”

Khan also mentions how he would have to censor some of his material while in Dubai, so as not to offend or get himself into trouble. However, no matter the subject matter, Khan is happy to be making people laugh.

“I think if you make somebody laugh, that is a good thing because we need laughter,” Khan states. “We need happiness. The moment you turn on the TV and put it on the news channel, there is nothing good coming out of it, unfortunately.”

Khan is definitely succeeding in his goal to inspire laughter. He has had such a great response in Pakistan that he was offered the opportunity to do a stand-up show for a major television show (what he described as a Saturday Night Live equivalent). Unfortunately, he declined because his Urdu is not strong enough. Still, opportunities have been flowing in. After reading an article in the newspaper, an American promoter visiting Lahore got in contact with Khan. They spoke, joked, and boom! Khan will be performing in the States in June.

“I couldn’t believe it because I’m in Pakistan, and I get a gig in the U.S. So that was a highlight,” says Khan.

Opportunities are likely to continue to come up for this funny guy as he tours the Middle East.

“Stand-up comedy is more popular in the Middle East region, like Oman and Dubai,” says Khan. “That’s where I am going next, so I am really looking forward to it.”

More than a great and generous comedian, Khan is acting to break stereotypes that people hold of the Middle East and of Canada.

“It was not planned, but this is what I am doing. A lot of people have misconceptions about people living in the Western world,” Khan explains. “The funny thing is that when I am touring in Canada, it’s the opposite. People will ask me questions as soon as they find out that I am Muslim and I am from Pakistan…I show them that there are good and bad wherever you will go, so I tell them not to focus on the bad…So I think I am doing a good job educating people and creating a bridge between two cultures, between East and West.”

Haris Khan is an all-around star. Even amidst his shows and volunteering, he has not forgotten Saskatchewan. He has even worn his Don Narcisse Rider jersey while performing. So, what does he have to say to all of us University of Regina students?

“You need to believe in yourself, work hard and help others, and there will be a positive outcome,” says Khan. “Don’t focus on the haters, focus on the people who support you and encourage you.”

So work hard fellow students. Khan will be back in Regina to finish his Geology degree this fall, and he will probably ask you if you are following your dreams. Be prepared folks! This funny guy is moving toward great things.

“I am promoting the Roughriders. I am promoting Canada. I am promoting the University of Regina. I think the next job for me should be Ambassador of Canada.”

About laura billett

I grew up dancing and have never been able to stop. I have been addicted to reading and dreamed of writing for as long as I can remember and am always looking for new inspiration, adventures, and a good laugh.