Fear of a Brown Planet Interview with Aamer Rahman

7 Nov

Talking with the dude on the right

I am speaking with one half of Fear of a Brown Planet Aamer Rahman! So, Hi Aamer!

Hello How’s it going? The sun’s shining out here, I’m in the South-East so y’know.

Oh! Well it’s HORRIBLE in Brunswick so.. Anyway, your success so far is in the comedy circuit and so forth and indeed your current dvd release Fear of a Brown Planet available through madman has focused largely on racial humour, the muslim angle obviously being very pertinent in the current climate and so on.. do you ever just want to make dick jokes?

No.

Never?

No. No! No. I mean, y’know, there’s no shortage of dick jokes, you know what I mean, there’s nothing really unique about it. I haven’t heard a unique dick joke in a long time. Really, for us, it’s the fact that we try to write comedy that we grew up listening to and that is kind of relevant for us and kind of… well, it’s not really out there right now, do you know what I mean? And it’s not that we’re trying to purposely go out and fill a gap it’s just we happened to conquer it.

And I suppose shows like Fat Pizza fill that dick joke gap anyway..

Yeah I guess we’re a little bit different to Fat Pizza and that kind of show!

You’re the very opposite ends of spectrum.

Yeah, exactly.

This release is obviously just stand up through and through, would you be considering in the future a segue into film production? Something sort of Four Lions’y for the Australian idiom?

Oh, definitely! We would love to, I mean yeah, I mean you know like a lot of comics start off doing stand up and then go into acting, and writing, directing, and the thing about stand up is that it makes you both a writer and a performer and gives you more flexibility. Yeah, a film is definitely something that we’re interested in.

Would you be sort of thinking in the TV direction first, or short film or would you just be wanting to just plough ahead, go straight into a feature-length number?

I think… I think we just want to try anything and everything. You know what I mean? You can’t really afford to only have one thing you’re going for, because you know the chance of things happening are so low, there’s so much competition, that you really have to have a few ideas happening at the same time.

Have you got any?

Yeah! Well we’re definitely writing stuff for TV at the moment-

Nice.

-But, yeah you’re always thinking of new stuff. That’s just, y’know, getting it down on paper and getting it to someone.

Speaking of which, obviously with the stand up writing process, a lot of people find that fairly mystifying, and think you just ‘get up and be funny’. What is your method for getting the comedy out there?

For me, the majority is just word for word stuff that I’ve said, you know, stuff from the community. I don’t really try to make up crazy stories and you know things like that I just talk about things that have actually happened to me and it just sort of writes itself.

Is it an actual pad and paper writing process or do you improvise the jokes?

No, right now I’m ‘writing’, but I never actually write down a joke, like word for word. Most comedians back stage have a set list just like a band, of bits and jokes that they’re going to do.

And that will be an interesting change for you when it comes to TV writing, because now you’ll have to actually write it out.

Comedy… it’s really just going with an idea, freestyling it or just, riffing on stuff. I mean, film and TV writing is so much more disciplined, you literally have to write out word for word EVERYTHING that is going to be said and done…

And you wish you could just write direction: Improv here or something..

Exactly! It is a much more involved process. When you’re doing comedy you just say to yourself ‘oh I’m going to do it like this’ and someone says oh that’s really funny and then you just go up and do it… But when you’re pitching TV you can’t just say oh we want to make a really funny TV show, this and this, please just give us some money and we promise it’ll be funny.

Comedy is an excellent medium for the expression of ‘dissenting views’, but a lot of stand up artists, particularly in America, are starting to get in trouble for things that they say. Have you ever feared this sort of media backlash?

Aaaahhh, not really because the things that I’m saying that are negative.. I’m not going to say something like Michael Richards, I’m not just going to say any old thing and then regret it… anything I get criticised for I’m willing to stand by.

No Tracey Morgan-style gaffs…

Yeah, but I guess no one ever really plans it, no one ever really thinks that they’re going to end up doing something like that so, y’know… Hope not!

It is a danger of improvised comedy, your mouth can run away with you and then Oh no! Someone recorded it!

Exactly, and now in the age of You Tube there is no way to hide after you’ve done something like that.

Risky! But if you’ll stick by what you say then the media can’t really hurt you?

No! no.

Fear of a Brown Planet’s success in part rests on providing a relatable voice to a culture a lot of white people recognise, but don’t actually have an experience of. Do you think your comedy narrows or widens the gulf between concurrent cultures?

Umm…. I don’t know! I’ve never thought of it that way!

Complicated, isn’t it?

I don’t think it necessarily widens or narrows anything, I think it’s just.. ummm.. I mean you know I wouldn’t say it brings people together or keeps people apart, I think people.. the thing about pop comedy is it’s kind of open, if people like it they’ll go to see it or buy the dvd or whatever… So I think the audience just goes to something that hasn’t been said for a while. And that is how everyone comes to it, people from all backgrounds really. We bring those people together in one place but they’re already together in a sense, you know what I mean, there are a lot of people who already think like that. But our comedy has never been ABOUT that, it’s not for bringing out new ideas or making people think a different way. It’s really FOR people who are already in tune with that kind of thing at the time.

You draw attention to it at the beginning of your show: how many people here are white? And there is a proper mix of people, in spite of  the us-and-them nature of the jokes, which I suppose does show humour itself is universal.

We always rely on having a mix of people in the audience, that’s how it’s designed and that’s how it works best really.

Any shows soon?

We’re taking a pretty long break, doing some writing projects right now.

But people can watch the DVD. First release?

First ever DVD release!

First of many?

I hope so!

Lizzie Lamb, www.thechopbuster.com

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