Comedian Zakir Khan took center stage at The Royal Albert Hall, London, on October 8, making history as the first Asian comedian in the world to perform at the iconic venue. With an audience of over 6000 fans from various backgrounds, the atmosphere was electric, and he received a standing ovation for 20 minutes, after his show. Fans travelled from Dublin, Amsterdam, Birmingham, and Milton Keynes to witness his performance, marking a significant milestone for the Indian comedy scene, putting it on a global stage. Reflecting on his historic night, Khan shares, “It has been more than 24 hours since I got down from the stage, and I am still in the buzz of the show. People are sharing stories on social media, and I am still watching what they are writing, which is why I am sort of still in the show and it will take me at least a week to settle down from here.
He further adds that he was not even aware that the standing ovation was for 20 long minutes. “I only got to know about the 20 minute standing ovation when other people started telling me about it, because mujhe laga 2-3 minute hi hue the. I was very surprised to know that it was 20 minutes, and when I watched the videos, I realised that it was around 20 minutes,” says Khan, adding, “I have only heard about legendary films or great performances getting such long standing ovations. I am still in disbelief that something like this happened to me. Comedy is more like sports, regardless of what happened in the previous match doesn’t matter, you still have to play ball by ball. Ab kal koi show hoga toh fir se shuru karenge.”
Talking about performing in front of a wide audience as many as more than 6000 people, Khan tells us that he focuses on the rhythm of the room. He explains, “I think prep is more mentally. Big rooms have a different architecture and flow. It took me a couple of minutes to understand exactly what the rhythm of the room is. So, only that was my preparation as to how I am going to adjust my rhythm of talking as it is very different from performing in an auditorium of 1000-1500 people.”
The warmth and appreciation he received from the venue’s staff added to become a memorable experience. The 36-year-old shares, “The reaction of the staff was very special. They were there for around 3 hours to watch me perform live. When they saw the kind of reception I was getting and the way people were responding to me, they got very emotional. They hugged me and it was a very emotional moment for them, and that was very surprising to me. It was very special that somebody who doesn’t understand your language, understands the feeling. That is the warmth I take from my country to other countries, and that is something that I have learned from my culture, to be warm and sweet to everybody regardless of any other factors. That attraction with the staff after the show was really special to me and I will always remember that.”
Khan’s advice to fellow aspiring comedians who want to achieve their goals? “For every art form, riyaaz is the most important thing. Practice and go on the stage as many times as you can. If you want to reach excellence in your art, you have to be a 24/7 comedian, at least mentally even if you are not on the stage,” says the comedian.
Khan emphasises that he continues to push his limits. “There is no stopping now. We are performing at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, hopefully the date will be confirmed soon. We are also going to perform at the Madison Square Garden in New York, which is one of the most iconic venues in the world. I am hoping ki jaisa Royal Albert Hall gaya hai vaisa hi Madison bhi hoga. I want to do Japan as well, that’s something which I am looking forward to. I am trying ki vahan par shayad comedy ho, khul sake vo venues bhi. Africa and the Middle East is also something that I want to do, and take India to that level. Indian comedy is doing well and I want to be the representative of my country in these places,” ends Khan, who has earlier performed at Soho Theatre, Dubai Opera, The Beacon Theatre, and Sydney Opera House.