American comedian Maz Jobrani wanted to be in Surrey a couple of months earlier than this, but the pandemic was problematic.
His “Things Looking Bright Tour” was supposed to hit Surrey’s Bell Performing Arts Centre in mid-January, but the date was pushed to Thursday, March 24, with a show at Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre the following night.
“I’ve been sitting here waiting for Canada to open up,” Jobrani said with a laugh during a phone call from his Los Angeles home.
Back in January, his Canada-avoiding tour brought him to theatres along the U.S. west coast.
“The Seattle one was weird because everybody was masked up in the theatre, and it felt like a good show,” Jobrani recalled. “But I got offstage and said to the opening act, ‘You know, it felt good but I didn’t really hear them laughing very loudly.’ He says, ‘Dude, they were masked.’ Ohhhh, right. I probably just couldn’t hear them laugh. I try to be realistic about how a show goes, but that one was just strange, the silence.”
Such mask-related issues for comedians are mitigated in B.C., now that people will no longer be required to wear masks in public indoor spaces, starting Friday (March 11).
Jobrani’s comedy show promises laughs about the pandemic, his family life and also politics. His left-of-centre views are voiced on a Twitter account that boasts more than 130,000 followers and proclaims “Bald is Beautiful.”
With some television and book-writing credits to his name, including the Simon & Schuster-published “I’m Not a Terrorist But I’ve Played One on TV,” Jobrani remains a road warrior when it comes to his comedy career.
“I started touring last spring when we got word of the vaccines and we thought things were going to change pretty fast,” Jobrani explained. “I called it the Things Are Looking Bright tour because of that, but what I didn’t anticipate is the number of people who were not going to take the vaccine, and slow everything down. So with the new variants and everything, the tour continued.”
Jobrani’s website bio describes him as “a comedian, actor and host of his own podcast, ‘Back to School with Maz Jobrani,’ on the All Things Comedy Network.”
He plays Fawz on the CBS comedy “Superior Donuts,” has appeared on other TV shows including “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Shameless,” and has been a regular on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Two years ago, when the pandemic first hit, Jobrani and other comedians scrambled to find other things to do – to make a living and also stay sane.
“Back in March of 2020, like everybody, I was cleaning every grocery item that was bought at the store, just a chaotic time in many ways,” he rememberd. “But then I remember watching John Legend and Chris Martin online and they turned a camera on themselves and did a free concert. I thought, ‘Oh, how great to be a musician because you really don’t need that audience reaction.’ But in comedy, you tell a joke and you need a laugh, and if you’re not hearing a laugh, the whole rhythm is thrown off, the set is thrown off. I wasn’t sure what to do with that.”
But then he went live on Instagram, and found an audience.
“I thought, ‘Screw the laughs, I’ll just get in there and talk about my life, what’s going on, all the craziness.’ We had a mouse that came and went in the house, so I was chasing this mouse and was just ranting about that. Then it became like this fulltime job, because every day at around 4 o’clock I had to come up with new material – the pressure, you know. And I couldn’t just talk about this mysterious mouse.”
Jobrani later did some Zoom and drive-in shows, with audience members in their cars. He also released a video of a pre-pandemic performance he did in Dubai.
“I did a little introduction which I filmed in a closet, like, ‘Hey everyone, this is a show I recorded before the pandemic, which is why nobody in the audience is wearing a mask, and now I’m in a closet telling you all about it,’ you know.”
Tickets for Jobrani’s show at the Bell start at $48.05 for a balcony seat, or fans can pay $106.80 for VIP. Visit bellperformingartscentre.com for details, or call 604-507-6355. The event is presented by the Just For Laughs company.