Ali Hassan is an Actor, Stand-Up Comedian and CBC Personality. We had the chance to catch up with him to find out more about his influences, style and upcoming projects.
How would you describe your comedy style?
Very personal. Generally relatable…with the occasional flash of some intelligence 🙂
Who are some of your influences?
I love Mike Birbiglia. I love Billy Connolly. Tommy Tiernan. I love comedians who can take you on a journey. Lots of Irish storytellers. From Canada, Derek Edwards Mike Wilmot, and Dave Hemstead are great at this.
Who was your favourite comedian growing up?
Eddie Murphy had an impact, certainly. His confidence on stage was INSANE. But really, I just loved staying up and watching ANY comedian who was at the end of the late night interview shows.
Who is your favourite comedian now?
That’s tough. That’s like asking who my favourite child is. (My youngest). But I really like Taylor Tomlinson. Nate Bargatze. Roy Woods Jr.
What is your pre-show ritual?
Deep breathing, and a lot of pacing. I wish there was something sexier, but that’s it.
What is your favourite place you have performed? Why?
There are so many great theatres in this country. Some that I’ve performed in that were really wonderful were the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, The Grand in Kingston, Arts Court Theatre in Ottawa, the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon. Usually, they have something to do with the audience and the way your show was received, but also some of them are architectural marvels and the way sound travels through them is incredible, like Massey Hall in Toronto and the Orpheum in Vancouver.
What is your favourite bit you have written and why were you proud of it?
I used to do a long bit inspired by Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Outliers about why the Chinese are good at math. He has suggested that it was, in large part, because of the simplicity and efficiency of the Chinese numbers. For example, “Si” (seven) in Chinese takes 1/3 the time to say, compared to the word “seven” in English. Overall, it’s a very efficient system. I joked that, if efficiency helps your math skills, then the French are in trouble. Because “soixante-et-trois mille…neuf cent…quatre-vingt dix-neuf…vergule cinquante-quatre….” is not efficient. There was a whole act out where I was a French guy taking long pauses with “euhhhs” and “ehhhs” and breaks for puffs from a cigarette while I recited a long number. The joke was about math, and language and culture, and even Canadian literature (thanks to Gladwell, who inspired it). It was one of my favourites.
What is your favourite medium for listening or finding new comics/comedians?
Top choice is a live show. Nothing beats that. I used to enjoy listening on audio…but after the pandemic, I’m getting back into watching comedy on various streaming services – I like seeing audience reactions and the comedian’s movements.
Tell us a joke about your city.
I’m from Montreal originally. And every time I go back to Montreal and tell an audience that I live in Toronto now, I always hear a few boos. Like, relax buddy, I’m not smuggling you back there. And then I come to Toronto and I say I’m from Montreal…and you know what the audience does? NOTHING. They just sit there and go “Oh. Montreal. Is that still a thing? We weren’t sure because we’re so busy being Torontonian!”
Do you have anything to promote right now?
I am heading on tour with my latest solo show called DOES THIS TASTE FUNNY? I’ll be in Manitoba, Sasketchewan and Alberta in March, and in BC in April. Between those dates, I’ll also be back hosting a great book “battle” called Canada Reads.
Where can we follow you?
Visit my website and also you can find me as @StandupAli everywhere
PAY IT FORWARD: Who is another local comic/comedian we should know about?
Check out Allie Pearse and Ben Sosa Wright