Telling abortion jokes at a baby shower | Edinburgh best newcomer Urooj Ashfaq's most memorable gigs

Telling abortion jokes at a baby shower

Edinburgh best newcomer Urooj Ashfaq's most memorable gigs

 Urooj Ashfaq – who won best newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards last year – is to go on tour later this month, following a run at the Soho Theatre. Here the Mumbai-born comic shares some of her more memorable. gigs…

First gig

It was at Canvas Laugh Club, an iconic and now shut-down venuein Mumbai.

A much more established comedian’s father was also on the line-up of the open mic so it was full of their enthusiastic and supportive family members

I killed that day and thought I was a prodigy - then I bombed for the next six months.

Best gig

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2023! Best gig ever, won best newcomer, now I’m going on a UK tour, come watch my show. Bring everyone you know! Love you!

Strangest audience member

There was a man who would show up to every trial show I did at this one venue in Powai (Mumbai) for six months. After his fifth time at the show everyone started to notice - the staff at the club and me. 

I wasn’t really afraid or creeped out but by the ninth show I started to feel really conscious and embarrassed because I wasn’t really working on my show and changing anything and I was bombing so much. Finally, in the 11th show, I asked him to stop coming and he pretended as if  he had never been to my show before and for some reason he kept bringing up the fact that he was a mathematician.

 I didn't argue with him too much, I let him lie to me but he never showed up again.

Most surprising gig

Back in 2017 I did a spot in a line-up at a baby shower. One of the comics went up on stage and started to do abortion jokes, the family and the pregnant lady enjoyed it! So then the next comic went up on stage and did a few jokes about abortion and then so did I and so on and so forth. 

It wasn’t something we expected of this seemingly traditional Indian family and we were all prepared to do clean, family-friendly material but it went so well and it was really a good time.

Least welcome post-show comment

I do a bit about how I’ve studied psychology and I have a bachelors degree in it. I was doing a gig for five people and it was one the most painful shows all of us had endured. I just could not get them to like me or laugh at anything I was saying and I tried everything (and too hard). At the end of a gig an older gentlemen said to me ‘You should study further.’retrospectively and this bit has made it to my show as well.

Urooj Ashfaq: Oh No! is on at the Soho Theatre from Monday until January, then goes on tour. Dates here.

Published: 2 Jan 2024

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