Naveed Mahbub and his stand-up comedy
Engineer-turned-stand-up comedian Naveed Mahbub is rapidly making his mark on the US stand-up comedy scene. A popular host of various shows on TV and radio, recognition has come his way with the award of the Best Male Comedian in the '2007 Las Vegas Comedy Festival.'
In an interview with The Daily Star, Naveed touched on a variety of subjects such as his sudden career switch, facets of his “not so popular” profession in Bangladesh and his future plans. Excerpts from the interview:
What is your background?
I am a student of electrical engineering. I graduated from BUET and went on to do my Master's in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Later, I worked for 13 years as an engineer with the Ford Motor Company, Kyocera-Wireless and Qualcomm. Three years ago I embarked on stand-up comedy.
So you are a relatively new entrant to stand-up comedy?
Three years is regarded as quite substantial in this medium. I took an intensive course in California, under Sandy Shores, a renowned comedy instructor from California. The Sandy Shore Comedy Workshop is quite well known in the US.
I began my career there while I was still doing my engineering job and then went on to do my MBA at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2007, I went to the Las Vegas Comedy Festival where the judges were from Hollywood. I consider myself fortunate to have bagged the award as Best Male Comedian That gave me a lot of exposure and I began performing four to five times a week. Slowly I started shifting away from my engineering job. Now I do a lot of corporate shows, various programmes on TV and radio. I have even done a very small part in a film called, You don't mess with Zohan, featuring Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider.
Are you active while in Dhaka?
Yes, I have explored the opportunities here. My feeling is that there isn't any real stand-up comedy scene here in comparison with the West. My stay here has been great but I am of the opinion that it's tougher to make the Bangladeshis laugh than the Americans because the former are less expressive.
Are you into Bengali comedy?
Yes, I began that seven months ago in the US and got a gig to perform for a Bangladeshi audience. I've performed at Kozmo Lounge, Deja Vu, Dhaka Club and at Hotel Sheraton during the NRB conference.
What are your future plans about generating public interest here in stand-up comedy?
I have several plans. The media can play a big role and quite a few TV and radio channels have displayed interest. However, if I have to go into it on a regular basis I have to come here more frequently. In my view the humour has to be topical, so recorded versions from the US may not work that well. For example you can talk about the traffic jams here. I am also thinking of setting up a comedy club here where people can learn to appreciate stand-up comedy. In a nutshell, I would say there is immense potential for this genre in Bangladesh.