December 7, 2015

Getting Serious With Saad Haroon...Sort Of + Salted Caramel Popcorn

For tickets and details , hit up Don’t Jealous Jaani, My Heart is Pakistani on Facebook. 




You know what kind of people I love? Funny people. Yes, I know. The smart ones are pretty amaze too, but just hear me out. I fangirl over a killer sense of humor the way I imagine tweens do over Zayn Malik because, plot twist, the hilarious ones are usually razor sharp. 

How do I know?

Because I spent the summer reading memoirs by some of my favorite comedians — Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, you are goddesses — and I’m convinced that even The Oracle and Paulo Coelho’s love-spawn wouldn’t have shit on these women. 

You won’t find a lot of wreck-your-soul-and-slave-to-rebuild-it style drama in these books. But what you will find plenty of are endearing, bare-naked anecdotes speaking the honest-to-goodness truth that life is awkward, and we’re all awkward, but the struggle doesn’t have to be so real — just stop taking yourself so seriously.

That’s the thing with great comedy, right? It’s relatable. And that is Saad Haroon in a nutshell. Talking to Pakistan’s funniest funny man is like chatting with an old friend. Comfortable. Easy. Unaffected. 


Bonus: his jokes are cracking, his gestures are all-over-the-place wild, and his eyebrows are totally on fleek.

You might know Saad as the creator of the super funny and wildly successful improv comedy troupe, BlackFish, or as the creator and host of Pakistan’s first satirical news show, The Real News. More recently, though, he’s been killing it overseas, winning the title of the 2nd Funniest Person In The World at The Laugh Factory in Hollywood and performing sold out shows around the world.

Now, he’s back on home turf with his side-splitting stand-up tour, Don’t Jealous Jaani, My Heart is Pakistani, so I caught up with him for a quick tête-à-tête .

It started out with polite predictability. “Hi.” “How are you?” “Thank you.” “No, thank you.” “No, seriously, thank you.” But a quick mention that we’re recording the interview and, suddenly, there he is. Saad Haroon, in all his hysterically comical glory, primping and pouting into the camera, fluffing his hair, pointing out how fabulous his imaginary “nude” lipstick looks. 

Ladies and gentleman, it’s show time!


On a scale of 1 to Hai hai, nikamma, what’s the most absurd reaction you’ve received to your career choice?? 


I’m not stereotypically successful, you know. I’m not a doctor, I’m not an engineer, I mean, I might as well be a bum, so I’ve gotten every reaction under the sun, but I think the best one came from my own parents. When I started hosting The Real News they kind of consoled themselves with, “Challo, at least he wears a suit.”

Do you make up crazy stories when someone asks you, “What’s your real job?”


You know, you’d be surprised, but the conversation rarely gets to that point. I tell them I’m a comedian,there’s a split-second of awkward silence, maybe a quick bechara look, followed by“Beta, aap kay Papa kya karte hein?”

Junaid Jamshed and his beard are seated next to you on a plane. What kind of career advice would you give him?


Oh wow, that man is moving so much product and minting so much money and I’m still slaving to convince aunties and uncles I’m not clinging to Daddy’s coattails…maybe I’m the one who needs JJ and his beard’s advice.  


You wore a sherwani when you performed at the Laugh Factory finals, the title of your tour says your heart is Pakistani,  but, really, what’s the Pakistani-est thing about you?


Oh my God, hands down, my appetite! Put a tray in front of me and I will literally attack it. I’m serious. I have no shame. And now that I live abroad now and I don’t have that kind of access to desi food anymore, it’s gotten so much worse. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I miss my friends, and all those close ties and deep, unbreakable bonds that are a part of what makes Pakistan home. All I’m saying is, I miss the food more. 

What do women really want?


I might get into trouble, but, really, women just want what men have. Power. They want to control the universe. They want everrrrrythiiing. Okay, no, I’m just kidding. The thing is, I think feminism gets a bad rap because it’s conveniently misconstrued as women just being power-hungry, but I grew up with three sisters, and, seriously, the kind of pressure women experience in our society is insane. How to act, what to wear, who to marry. It’s crazy. So when I say women want power, I mean they want the freedom to make their own choices and live their lives the way they want to. It’s so basic and it’s really something the male population of this country gets to take for granted.

You and your shows have been making headlines around the world. Has success and fame made you absolutely insufferable?


Absoluuuuuuutely…not. The thing is, comedy is brutal if you’re doing it for the fame Hitting a punchline and hearing nothing but a a sad little clap or uncomfortable silence triggers all these “Oh my God, I’m such a failure” feelings. That’s when you realize that fame, especially in comedy, is so fleeting. Seriously, I’m only as good as my last joke. But I’ve been very very lucky. The support and love I’ve gotten from Pakistanis around the world is overwhelming, all because I gave them a good laugh. And, obviously, it’s a great chance for me to give people a different view of Pakistan. Those things make it all worth it. 


The title of your future best-selling memoir?


Don’t Jealous. No questions asked. I really believe in that philosophy. Seriously, just don’t jealous. You know. Don’t compare yourself to others. Forget what everybody else is doing. Don’t worry about what they expect you to be doing. Just go out, do your thing, and own it.

The one thing we need to teach our future generations?


Government. I mean, how hard can it be, especially here, right? Hey kids, get ready for the most high-level popularity contest of your lives. Win it and live the sweet life, forever. Jokes aside, though, someone really needs to look into teaching our future generations about what an effective, real-life government looks like and how it works.

What makes you go Haw Hai?


People who cut lines. I just can’t…I don’t get it. I mean, can’t you see the rest of us standing right here? Seriously, Haw Hai!


Saad managed to squeeze this interview in between intense rehearsals for opening night in Karachi where the Don’t Jealous Jaani, My Heart is Pakistani tour kicked off this past weekend. The six scheduled shows sold out so quickly, he added an extra night and is now extending his tour and plans on announcing additional dates for Karachi soon. But before he heads back to the city by the sea, Saad Haroon is bringing his act to Lahore, performing at LUMS on the 11th, 12th, and 13th of December and then heading to Islamabad for two shows on the 18th and 19th of December at AQS. 

So, I don’t know about you fine people, but I definitely know where I’m going to be this weekend. 

For more details and info on where to buy tickets, hit up Don’t Jealous Jaani, My Heart is Pakistani on Facebook. 


Do you know what makes a good show great? A solid snack, that’s what! My definition of “solid snack”? Anything I enjoy shoving into my mouth by the fistful. Shamelessly. With reckless abandon. 

Like salted caramel popcorn.

It’s the stuff snacking dreams are made of. It’s salty, it’s crunchy, it’s sticky-sweet. It’s everything, really. And the home-made kind is so far beyond anything you’ll find in a box or bag, you’ll thank yourself for your effort and patience with every handful.

Popping your own corn might seem like a chore, but, again, the results are worth it. The freshly popped kernels are sturdy enough to withstand the heft of thick caramel, plus the popcorn ends up extra crispy, which means, like all other super-snacks, it’s got a deeply satisfying bite.

By the way, salted caramel popcorn never lasts long at my place. I mean, it’s a grazer’s paradise. So, take my advice: be sneaky, be selfish, make an extra batch, and stash that gold in a secret spot just for yourself. 

Also, if you’re a caramel fiend, like myself, definitely check of my recipe for Salted Caramel Peanut Brittle

Salted Caramel Popcorn (makes about 10-12 cups)
Adapted from, Caramel Corn, by Food52

Ingredients
1/2 cup dry corn kernels
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup (170 grams) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat your oven to 120°C/250°F. Throw the corn and oil into a large pot and cover the pot with a lid. Set it on the stove over a medium-low flame. Once you hear the corn beginning to pop, shake the pot every now and then, to keep it from burning. You’ll know it’s done when the popping sound slows down and you can only hear it every few seconds. Remove from the stove and empty the popcorn into a large bowl.
2. To make the caramel, melt the butter over a medium heat in a large saucepan. Please, don’t use a small saucepan. When you add baking soda to the caramel, it bubbles up, so the risk of scalding your skin with searing hot sugar is high. Once the butter has melted, add the sugar. After the sugar has melted as well, turn the heat up to high and boil for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly to keep the caramel from burning. By the way, the darker the caramel i.e. the longer it cooks, the crunchier the popcorn turns out.

3. Add the vanilla, salt, and baking soda to the caramel and stir carefully. If you’d prefer making plain caramel corn, just cut the salt down to a 1/2 teaspoon.

4. As soon as the caramel starts to foam, pour it over your pre-prepped popcorn. Using a large spoon, preferably one with a long handle, stir and toss the corn and caramel together until the popcorn is completely coated. You’ll need to work quickly here, otherwise the caramel will clump and harden.

5. Spread the caramel-coated corn in an even layer on a lined baking sheet. Pop it into the over and bake from 30 minutes to an hour. Just remember to stir the popcorn every 15 minutes or so to break up clumps and coat the corn evenly.

Happy snacking, lovelies, and enjoy the show!

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