Saturday, 27 November 2010

A little time for reflection

It was my birthday yesterday, I did have plans for a big birthday bash although that is totally against my nature, but comedy commitments meant that I needed to be in the studio writing and overlooking my projects. Instead I had a nice meal with the close friends I grew up with, and we ate at an Italian restaurant run almost exclusively by Indians... multi-cultural enterprise or what?

Again, I'm not big on celebrating, I'm more of a walk of into the sunset kind of guy, so I took this opportunity to reflect on how my year had progressed since my last birthday. This time last year, I finished a small tour of gigs that ended in Edinburgh, after which I drove all the way back to London in one shot. I had more or less just gone full-time as a comic and the adventures of driving up and down the country for both my livelihood and experience was in full effect. I was now an entry level "professional comedian" and I also had my very own car that I had purchased with my very own hard earned cash. There were still gigs I couldn't get because some promoters did not want to touch me at all, but I had made progress, I was now gigging with real professionals, sharing the bill with them and having to raise my own game in order to win the acceptance and respect of my newly found peer group of hardcore circuit professionals.

Look at me! I used to get told off for talking too much, nowadays I'm still talking too much!
A year on and I've somehow managed to get onto TV, be nominated for Best Newcomer in Edinburgh, book a massive UK tour, and be offered exciting new opportunities in the comedy world, some of which I shouldn't talk about yet until the right time to reveal it all. I did not expect this to happen like this, I never imagined that so much would happen so quickly. I'm a massive fan and advocate of the personal development scene, a few years ago I started to listen to Anthony Robbins, and it was one of the best investments of my time and money I have ever made. And this is what I want this blog entry to be about; personal development, going for your dreams.

"Unleash The Power Within"
I'll save most of the details for when I get to write a proper autobiography, but for now I want to highlight the importance of having a dream and that with unrelenting passion and hard work, that anything is possible. My first dream was to become a video games designer, and it didn't entirely work out as per my imagination had envisioned only because I did not have a strategy. I spent many years in the games industry, struggling to make it, although having a good time working on video games and making awesome friends. Suddenly, I found myself depressed (for many reasons) and broke, I was in trouble and there was no sign of anything changing unless I took complete control and changed it myself. I started listening to personal development material and ensuring all areas of my life has positive influences being pumped into them, from the music I was listening to, the food I ate, the books I read, and the people I associated with. These were the first step ingredients to giving me a good foundation to build my dreams upon. Whilst I totally went in head deep into this, often alienating myself from others who thought that this schmaltzy positive thinking malarky was a waste of time, it was sometimes difficult to believe in the worth of the most important part of it all, which was taking action.

I had a dream, a clear and vivid image of what I wanted from life, and so I wrote this down and started devising a strategy on how to achieve it all. Then I got out into the world and took loads of action, sometimes small steps, sometimes big jumps, and often enough I hit a wall and fell to the ground. But I got back up and re-strategised and took new action, yet again failing some more, before even a glimmer of a result would appear. And so in this, I found out a secret to life; failure is the most amazing teacher. As I continued to study the success of others in other areas of life, I realised that there was a consistent theme in their story, that they also had failed multiple times, even to the brink of total bankruptcy and even death, yet they refused to give up and then persevered into enormous victory.

It's easy to just do as we are told by others, to just go to school, get a job, earn some money, buy some stuff and generally just follow the path that is laid out for us by "the system" and by the expectations of others. However, if we take the time to step out of our own heads and observe our lives on this planet without the manufactured paradigms that are pumped into us by "the system", perhaps then we can see other meanings to our existence and the infinite opportunities that are readily available to us. My life has changed immensely these last few years, and right now all my dreams are coming true thick and fast, it's now payday. And this is why I want to share this with as many people as possible, because if I can do it, then anyone else can.

Compared to Americans, we have an apathetic and cynical attitude that is reflected in our TV shows here. Note that we don't have a Jack Bauer. Having ambition is almost scorned upon, and thus a lot of people find that their secret desires must be kept under wraps and even extinguished if they are to avoid the mockery, cynicism, and negativity from others around them. But it is exactly this, our ambition, our dreams, our passion that must be unleashed if we are to experience the true joys that life has to offer. None of it comes easy. and often enough, the negativity and even stupidity of people jeopardises the exciting possibilities that mankind has access to.

To put it into a nutshell; go for your dreams. Yes, in the pursuit of your dreams, you will fail, it will hurt, you will want to give up, but you must persevere and continue, because you totally can achieve anything you want. If you fear the failure, the humiliation, the pain, just do it anyway, because the pain of failure is never going to be as bad as the pain of wondering what could have been just because you never tried.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

My worst gig ever :-)

I've just got back from my worst gig ever, it was going well for about 15 mins, then suddenly one table took massive offence to some material and the gig descended into chaos as I tried to finish the show between a small contingent who wanted to cause me physical harm and the others who enjoyed my set for the most part.

I started off well with some new material that I am doing in the clubs as I like to make sure that the audience see me doing stuff that they've not seen on TV or the internet. If you know my material, you'll know that I talk about race, culture, religion and the general topic of these manufactured identities in my set. Suddenly, when I got to material about relationships and my personal penchant for white/English women, endearingly referring to this as "I like vanilla", one table took massive offence. As I continued, one woman started to 'boo', and suddenly all the energy was being diverted into a verbal combat between me and her table, as the audience slowly became divided between those who liked me and wanted to hear more and those who wanted me to die and let me know that they hated me with all their might.

I am angry and I hate you.
I kept my composure and continued to smile, trying to placate the upset caused by the subject matter and even trying to build bridges with the offended table, but there was nothing left to repair or salvage, so I stood my ground and gratefully played to the audience that were actually left over paying attention. Still, this was a painful endeavour as the sea of muttering and audience shouting at each other had overwhelmed the room, and so I did my time, made my statement of peace and walked off into the open arms of friend and MC; Paul Pirie.

As I walked out the room, a lady who was waiting outside with her relatives 'booed' me and told me to write 'better material'. As I am above being offended by such petty remarks, I laughed and wished her family a safe journey home. At this point a tattooed man charged over to me and called me a "Racist F*ck*ng W*nk*r". I smiled at him, repeating his words in confusion, after which he explained the premise of his offence and why he claims that I am a racist -

"Racist" material - 

* Mentioning Princess Diana
Apparently, talking about said person is a racist offence. Though, what he failed to notice was that I NEVER actually mention said person, I ONLY allude simply to the death of Dodi Al-Fayed.

* Referring to my liking of white/English women as "I like vanilla".
It seems that highlighting my relationship preferences with a playful endearment involving a flavour of ice-cream is offensive. You've got to give him points for making a mountain out of this non-existent molehill.

What became clear to me here is that our perception of what is right and wrong is quite subjective based on our own ethics, and that despite the logic or intelligence that can prove us categorically wrong, our emotional reaction and personal perception of subjects can overwhelm our intellect.

As the tattooed man stood his ground and explained why I am a massive racist into my smiling diplomatic face, other audience members interjected with "Well done, I really enjoyed that" and my favourite "Well done, you're too intelligent for Bexleyheath". As the majority of the audience passed by with similar praise, the tattooed man realised his views were actually NOT shared by everyone else other than his own table, and so he slowly receded from his aggressive stance. I then shook his hand and made my exit from the furore that will forever be embellished upon the legend of Bexleyheath as "The day that guy off McIntyre came to Bexleyheath and was sh*t". Although, some people enjoyed it, so I'm happy that the larger British public can understand and enjoy playful material about identity and the dynamics of that old chestnut; irony. Once I got home I was joyed to find this Tweet from docj0nes who was at the gig - "@imranyusuf Was @ ur bexleyheath gig 2nite. Enjoyed ur show while I could. Ruined by the minority, THEY ARE JOKES PPL! Ur quality keep it up".

Okay, now that I've got all that off my chest and await the death threats and hate campaign from those so limited by their own perspective, I want to sign off by saying the following -

I love you, and I'm going to save the world.
Dear everybody, your body is simply a vehicle for your consciousness to experience this life. The labels we use to identify ourselves (colour, culture, race, religion etc) are entirely manufactured by people and subsequently emotionally attached to our sense of identity. Because of this, human beings are easily manipulated and even encouraged to hate and kill one another. You are NOT your identity, you are simply nothing more than how you choose to behave. In any civilisation, culture or country, no one has ever taken a liking to anyone who behaves like a c*nt, so steer clear of that one, and you'll find that everyone will actually like you and that we can all actually get along. Some might think that this is naively optimistic, but it will be us who embrace the opportunity of change with the knowledge that there is a wealth of possibility for us all to embrace a greater wisdom and achieve a better quality of life, who will make the world a better place. That, and I like vanilla.... ;-p

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Stop complaining please.

In the current climate where politicians are ruining the country and everyone is crying over the lack of jobs, money, resources and the inherent problems that immigrants are bringing into the mix, we're engulfed with the tone of righteous indignation prevalent in the attitudes of radio hosts who ask people to call in and then give them seconds to share their story before cussing them off the airwaves.

Everyone is complaining and it is doing my head in, please STFU for one second and digest this story in that spoilt stomach.

Meet William Kamkwamba (right), he is from Malawi, coming from a poor village where he does not have giant plasma screen TV nor wastes his time on Facebook or Twitter trying to be witty, he spent his time studying.

However, when his parents were unable to afford his school fees, he left school at 14. Dejected to a future of starving or being an extra when news crews film poor people in the continent of Africa. Instead of marching on the politician's headquarters and smashing up the place and calling it a protest, William used his brain and started hanging out in libraries, a place where books are stored for people to read. It is in one of these libraries that William found a book called "Using Energy", which featured a windmill. William discovered that windmills harnessed the power of the wind to create energy and thus transform it into electricity.

When he wasn't reading books, William spent his time foraging in junkyards for any pieces of scrap that would serve as an ingredient in the windmill he wanted to build. Laughed at by his friends, William persevered and managed to convert random bits of junk that was lying in the dirt into the pieces he needed. William even found some plastic piping that he cut open and melted over an open fire so that he could flatten it out and shape the blades for his windmill. To cut a long story short, William managed to create a windmill out of scrap and brought electricity to his village. He then built more to irrigate gardens to grow produce. Watch his incredible story below.

This is a story of a teenager in poverty who spent his time being resourceful rather than complaining.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

I'm voting for me!

"I'm voting for Tony Robbins"
I've watched some of the US election coverage on the BBC, because for some reason, US politics is much more interesting and sexier than British politics. However, the more I learn about politics, the more I am deterred from learning any more. Given the chance, I'd vote for Mark Thomas or David Icke, but definitely not Dizzee Rascal.

The nature of voting and political control is not as straight forward as it is on the X Factor, where you pretty much get what you see. With government politics, you can't actually just vote the guy you want to run the country into power, because of some weird rules akin to having to circumnavigate the Monopoly board once before being allowed to buy anything. Ultimately, only one guy will get to live in Downing Street and the other members of government call up from time to time and ask to use the toilet with the bidet.

Politicians appeal to certain groups in society over issues like jobs, immigrations, crime, public spending, gays getting married, gays adopting, gays doing pretty much anything, and conspiring to rob the middle east of oil. There are different groups, somewhat branded in different colours so that it is easy for the public to choose their favourite based on a colour scheme and logo. These politicians are essentially "promisers of change", which then they often turn on once they realise how difficult it is to execute a policy that doesn't require a Facebook group to get it going.

Some politicians appeal to the fearful and stupid, blaming all of society's problems on certain groups signified by ethnicity, religion, sexual preference or something else they fail to understand based on the fact that they are the bipedal equivalent of donkeys. Other politicians range from this extreme all the way to the other end, one way or the other there should be a group that appeals to you and the issues you feel need to be addressed, because your vote counts. It really does, so please make sure you vote because the government close schools for the day and marginalise children's education so that you can vote with state of the art photocopied pieces of paper and stubby pencils.

"We're manipulating yo monkey ass!"
Currently, the President of the USA is a man called Barack Obama, he is of mixed ethnicity and has an Arabic or "Muslim name", both of these characteristics were considered as fatal flaws in his bid to become the President. However, he managed to win as the only other choice was to go with a man on his death bed and an ignorant MILF whose international relations experience consisted of experiencing a déjà vu and considering it to be the equivalent of being in France. Because human beings are largely controlled by fear and greed, and also currently limited by the need to feel significant through a sense of identity based on skin colour, religion, ideology or culture, human beings are often manipulated by these factors into voting based on those premises rather than by the actual issues that need to be addressed. Due to this, the planet Earth is going to be stuck in a dark age for a long time, where enlightenment, peace and free ice-cream will fail to surface until we're attacked by an outside force like aliens.

As human beings incarnate in the same type of body vehicle on planet Earth, it might not be a stretch to imagine that our collective concerns, needs and desires are somewhat similar enough for all of us to find enough common ground that we could join forces and manage the planet in a beneficial way and contribute towards creating an amazing quality of life for everyone. However, such thinking is regarded as wishful in this polarised world of hatred, fear and cynicism. But maybe one day in the future, the seed of hope might just flourish and people will stand only on the right hand side of an escalator.