Monday, 26 December 2011

Why I love Anime

Goku; charming as a boy, a legend as a man.
Merry Xmas to you all, I hope that you're enjoying the holidays with your friends and families.

I wanted to write this blog post in regards to the influence Anime has had on me these last few years, most notably on Hajime no Ippo, Naruto, and not forgetting DragonBall Z of course as that's where it all started for me.

In the West, animated cartoons have mainly been aimed at children and in the last 10-20 years have become more and more popular as a form of satire for a more mature audience.

Why don't we have a British equivalent? Hmmm...
However, in the East, or at least in Japan, the medium of cartoon has long been a medium to express deep, meaningful drama that cover a range of topics that ultimately all have to do with the human condition, all of which gets wrapped up with tongue-in-cheek humour and giant inter-dimensional talking ninja toads.

When in doubt, do a Kuchiyose no jutsu!
To the untrained eye, Anime just might appear to be juvenile fantasy nonsense for children, but it is in fact so incredibly deep, that Anime often demonstrates the power to move your soul in a way that few films or books ever do these days. Whatever the medium, art can convey incredible ideas and inspire our greatest hope, ambition and the courage to see them through, and Anime does this in immense proportions. In many Anime shows, the main protagonist is a plucky underdog, sometimes not liked or ever taken seriously by others, and always accompanied by a good looking rival that everyone else likes much to their chagrin. If you ever feel that you're up against the odds in life, been overlooked by those around you who seem to win the favour of everyone else whilst you only earn the scornful looks of disdain and disgust, then there is guaranteed to be an Anime character that you'll relate to.

Alone and unwanted.
It all started for me with DragonBall Z, the sequel to the DragonBall series that only made it to the wider West after the sequel itself had found loyal following on Cartoon Network. The main character was Goku, an alien humanoid that was sent to Earth as a baby so that he would destroy the planet and prepare it for colonisation by his race who would follow later. However, he crash-landed on Earth and was raised by a man who cared for him and because of this he learnt compassion and love, and grew to vow to use his powers to protect everyone. Goku grew up and attracted the attention of many villains who understand that they must destroy him in order to conquer Earth (or any other nearby planet they fancy), with each battle, Goku becomes stronger and even wins over the hearts of his enemies to change their ways, but only when he sees one of his friends die in battle, does he dig deep and reveal his true power and becomes a Super Saiyan.

When faced with an unforgiving enemy who waged death and destruction, Goku watched his friend die before realising that he had to find a greater strength if he was going to save everyone. And with the pain of watching his friend get killed, realising that he wasn't strong enough, he used the pain to fuel his ascension into becoming a Super Saiyan; a metaphor for our own inner strength that we can only access when we dig deep into our desires and find it deep in our souls. DragonBall Z was my entry into the world of Anime, after this my fascination with these cartoons got a bit deeper and I started to realise how moving Anime could be. Anime is by its very nature very optimistic yet grounded in the realities of our human shortcomings of fear and greed. Through the characters, I related to the problems and became inspired to be courageous in the face of adversity and become stronger than whatever challenge appeared.
Ippo combined Mike Tyson's "Peek-a-Boo" style with Jack's "Dempsey Roll".
I used to do this as a warm up before gigs.
In the depth of my depression in 2006, I started my road to recovery with an Anime called Hajime no Ippo (loosely translated means "One of many steps"), in the West it was known as "Fighting Spirit", but because I am a pompous Shinnichi (Japanophile), I prefer to refer to and watch Anime in Nihongo (Japanese). Hajime no Ippo is an Anime about Boxing, the main character is Ippo Makanouchi, a young introverted boy with no friends who gets bullied a lot. One day, a local Boxer saves Ippo from being beaten up after school, Ippo then decides to want to learn to defend himself and takes up Boxing. Through the Boxing gym, he makes friends and earns respect, his life changes and his dream then becomes to one day be the Japanese National Featherweight Champion. I used to watch the show and felt that Ippo's life kind of related to my own problems at the time, so I latched on and found it incredibly inspiring to watch. Maybe my own inner introvert could find a channel to pursue his dreams, so I would dash home after my minimum waged games testing job to watch as much as I could to help me become mentally stronger and inspire me take my own "One of many steps" towards my own dreams.

One of the most profound things I have learnt from Anime is that the main protagonist is a plucky underdog who has little choice other than to go up against immense challenges to find any joy or purpose in life. These characters are the perfect example for someone who feels out of touch with the world, as they can be related to.

Naively optimistic with grand ambitions, that's why I love Naruto.
The best example of this is in the Naruto Anime. A petulant brat that annoys everyone and which none of the girls at all fancy, Naruto decides that his ambition is to become "Hokage" (the most powerful ninja and village leader) when he grows up so that he will be acknowledged by everyone that shuns him and so that he can protect everyone. As the series progresses, Naruto's shortcomings and the scornful attitudes of those around him change as they realise that his ambitions are truly selfless, Naruto effectively becomes mightier than his problems, and his fortunes and the attitudes of those around him change in his favour. Naruto always focuses on what he can give (except when he wants to eat ramen) and his example in giving unconditional love brings him and those around him joy as he forges the path in alleviating pain and ushering in peace to the cursed ninja world of war.

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe it's all nonsense, perhaps these stories of inspiration, having ambition and being courageous are of no value in our everyday lives of having to wake up, go to work, earn just enough to live off and then do it all again the next day, every day until our flesh perishes on this mortal plane. Or maybe I might be a little right, just maybe a little, if you have a dream, work hard and smart, and never ever give up... maybe then, dreams do come true...

Sneaky photo I took on my phone the day before we shot the show... see it on BBC3 in 2012!

Friday, 25 November 2011


Check out my brand new TV show!!
The time has finally come! I am giving away FREE TICKETS to my TV show - THE IMRAN YUSUF SHOW.

We're recording TWO shows at THE GARAGE on SAUCHIEHALL STREET on TUESDAY 6th DECEMBER, the FIRST SHOW is at 7pm, the SECOND SHOW is at 8:30pm.

To get your FREE TICKETS go to WWW.SROAUDIENCES.COM, choose CURRENT SHOWS, click on THE IMRAN YUSUF SHOW and register for your FREE TICKETS!!

Since you're reading my blog and must be a true fan, you can get your FREE PRIORITY TICKETS by entering the secret password "Dattebayo" in the Comments & Information box when applying for the tickets.

I'm really, really, really excited and looking forward to the show. It's going to be a cool mix of stand-up with sketches much in the ilk of the inspiration behind this dream project of mine; Chappelle's Show.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The News

Fed up of all the bad news? Bored of listening to the same old intolerant, hateful nutjobs that incite fear into society? Upset at all the stories of famine, disaster, and poverty? Sometimes it seems that we're overwhelmed by all the bad news in the world, that we'd be forgiven for feeling that there is no hope for humanity.

So, I choose to post this in the recognition and celebration of those who work towards making the world a better place and the profound positive effect their selflessness has on humanity, and just how much of a difference just one person can make when charged with a noble will of contribution.



Also, I wanted to share this, it's the most romantic thing I have ever seen. True romance thrives...

And there you have it, don't let the violent, ignorant and greedy acts of a few blur the vista of just how awesome human beings can be...

Thursday, 17 November 2011


Thanks to Omere Isaac for spotting this and posting it on my Facebook Fan Page, it seems that my love for Swedes went too far during this week's England game.

Real? Photoshop? Doppelganger?
I fell out of my seat laughing at this, thinking it was a very good Photoshop job, but it turns out that it is in fact very real! Check this link on YouTube, you'll see someone who looks like me 5 seconds in -

It definitely wasn't me, I was gigging in London, I swear!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Why I love Jackie Chan

I love Jackie Chan, he is my number one childhood hero and I am going to tell you why.

"I love you too!"
I have been a massive Jackie Chan fan since I was 8 years old, when he was only known outside of Hong Kong thanks to the now almost redundant video rental stores that stocked his movies in the 'martial arts' section, where there was always an abundance of Jackie Chan movies that were mostly so good, that to a 8 year old, they elicit repeated rental. I knew and loved Jackie Chan way before he became famous in the west for his Hollywood movies, which really kicked off in the mid 90s thanks to Rumble in the Bronx.

But it's not just because of his movies that I love Jackie Chan, but because of his journey in life and who he became after starting out in a very menial life as the son of civil war refugees that earned their keep as cleaners for the French Ambassador in Hong Kong. He came from nothing with all the odds against him, he dreamed big, worked hard and became a ridiculously massive success and inspiration to people all over the world. His movies transcended cultures and earned him fans from every corner of the globe, the true mark of how spirit can bond people.

You can read Jackie's fantastic biography; I am Jackie Chan, My Life in Action.

Available online, get it on Amazon.
I highly recommend you buy this, it's incredibly inspiring and will give you an insight to a truly incredible man, a true underdog hero with a massive heart. If Naruto was real, he'd be Jackie Chan. Get it here from Amazon in the UK -

Like I said, my first experience of Jackie Chan was when I was 8 years old, when I first moved to NW London, one of the responsible adults in my household rented out a movie to keep me placated during time off school. That movie was called "The Armour of God".

The original cover I remember from my childhood.
The Armour of God was like Indiana Jones with Kung Fu, mostly set in Europe with Jackie Chan as an international treasure hunter; Asian Hawk. To cut a long story short, Jackie has to rescue his cousin's girlfriend from an evil cult and acquire "the armour of God" that they have, a set of armour and weapons from a medieval war that were on the collection list for an antiques dealer who bankrolls Jackie's mission. Jackie has to end up fighting the entire evil cult single handedly, despite being totally outnumbered, his ingenious resourcefulness and 'never give up' attitude gets him by. By this point, I was in love with Jackie Chan, and then he said something in the movie that would change my life.

Towards the end of the film, Jackie Chan becomes a little bitter and starts venting about the hardships in his life. He then said this to his on-screen cousin -

"When I was a kid, I dreamt of being a hero, saving people, doing good deeds..."

Those words went straight to my naive 8 year old heart, and in that moment I decided "that's what I want to do". I might not be an international treasure hunter with insane Kung Fu skills, going around the world, beating up evil cults. But I can't help but think that I still believe in those words, that like Jackie, I learnt that one's desire for strength is only so that we can protect and help others weaker than us. Schmaltzy as that sounds, I would learn just how pertinent those words were when I learnt about Jackie's early life of modest means, hard work and having a dream. At the very least, his attitude towards a challenge is something I have most definitely embraced.

Jackie was sold into a Chinese Opera Academy at age 7 for a contract that lasted 10 years, in the hope that he would learn some skills and eventually have a trade in performing when he left at 17. It was 10 years of the kind of training and treatment that today would be unequivocally construed as abuse. He left the academy at 17. Poor and considering himself not good looking thanks to a fight that left him with a big broken nose (just like me), Jackie lived the life of a a stuntman in Hong Kong, earning a pittance for risking his life with no insurance or health & safety regulations on the set of various movies. He earned just enough to survive with no opportunity for anything big on the horizon. He also met his first girlfriend at 17, a beautiful young girl who came from a wealthy family and was a singer. When her father found out that she was dating Jackie; a poor, ugly stuntman with no realistic future, he forbade her from seeing him again. Jackie ran away, crying that he would never be good enough for any girl. Money and looks were areas he had no leverage in. After about a decade of hardship after leaving the academy, Jackie met up with his academy brothers; Yuen Biao and former academy bully; Samo Hung and dreamed of making their own movies. Shortly after, Jackie Chan became the biggest sensation in the asian movie market with all the wealth, opportunity and fans he could imagine.

For those of us who have been Jackie Chan fans before his Hollywood years, will know that Jackie's journey to stardom has been well earned, he pioneered cutting-edge fight choreography with his trademark underdog personality that endeared him to others who felt they too were outcast. Unlike the invincibility of Bruce Lee, Jackie was vulnerable and scared, but showed courage and ingenuity that inspired many of us, that perhaps we too could be as awesome as him.

Jackie is now not just a movie star, but a global brand. His work is not just on screen, but extends to enormous amounts of charity. If you've never seen a Jackie Chan movie, here's a snippet of his top ten fight scenes.

Some of you may have seen me on the Children in Need charity edition of Mastermind, where my chosen subject was Jackie Chan. I hope I did him proud.

Finally, to show you the extent of my Jackie Chan love, this is the kind of stuff I got up to in my teenage years -

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Story of a Naive Optimist - Part 4 (Action)

The final part of my 'Naive Optimist' story is all about ACTION.

First of all, having the right attitude and having a goal are both primarily emotional and mental, they cost nothing more than a little imagination and self-belief. Secondly, a strategy is a scientific plan, it requires intelligence, research, and advice before being committed to paper so that it may be followed and checked against. Finally comes action, this is where blood, sweat and tears come into the entire equation and ultimately deliver the goods of that which you desire. Taking action is the most difficult part, it actually means getting up and physically putting your attitude, goal, and plan into an actual physical action. Taking action will give you a result, which can often be failure, but the trick is to re-strategise and try again until you succeed. Once you've failed enough times, you'll have a pretty sure-fire way of consistently achieving the result that you want at a decent frequency.

The above might sound easy, but it is always the 'taking action' bit that is the hardest. Whatever your dream is, it's putting the effort in that can be difficult. However, if you want your goal enough, then the persistence to see it through will win over and eventually you'll take consistent action and eventually achieve the result you want.

An example from my own life and the answer to the question posed by every person considering to be a comic, is this - JUST DO IT.

Whatever your goal is, just get out there IMMEDIATELY and JUST DO IT. Sitting around dreaming and planning and never putting it into action is pointless. It's better to get out there and make mistakes so that you can learn from them for yourself, than to sit around speculating all the time. There is a lot of techniques that comics use, but none of them can be really learned until you experience using them in the field, so despite all the books one could read on becoming a stand-up, the best thing to do is just get out there and work on your craft. This is probably apt for just about any vocation, just get out there and do it.

Take action, and in the words of Anthony Robbins "TAKE MASSIVE ACTION". The bigger the effort, the bigger the result, the education and even possibly; the prize. Whatever your goal is, take massive action towards it, invest a lot of time, effort, money etc into what you want to do. The more you invest into your desires, the more you'll be committed or handcuffed to succeeding, until eventually your desires readily becomes your reality.

Final additional tips on my "Story of a Naive Optimist"series would be this -

Want to make more money?
Simply "add more value" to what you do. Expand your skill set, refine your skills, become the best. The more value you add, the more money you can expect for your contribution. Ultimately, own a business or be an investor, make your money work for you.

Want to improve your health?
Stop putting crap into your body, put nourishing things into your mouth instead. Exercise regularly, join a gym, train with a friend who will push you or like me, get a personal trainer. Also, get plenty of rest, your body repairs itself whilst you sleep. Last of all, take 1 x 20 min power nap a day during the day.

I've been learning about the science of personal development for a few years now and have had some relative success, I'm not entirely out the woods yet, but at least I managed to escape working in a video games QA dept for minimum wage and receiving a regular bollocking for not wanting to do unpaid overtime.

Well, that's all folks, I hope you found this informative and entertaining. Stay tuned to my adventures, I've got myself this far and now I'm gunning for the big time...

Welcome to my Penthouse Apartment on the Thames...

Check my sweet ride...

Det handlar om svenska kycklingar!
Dream big, work hard, love deep... anything is possible...

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Story of a Naive Optimist - Part 3 (Strategy)

In my experience of the personal development scene, I learnt of this famous saying -

"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail"

Having a positive attitude and a goal are very emotional processes, it takes imagination and self-belief, which is critical to your success. However, the next part; strategy, is all about moving things into the area of measurements and critical thinking, planning your success is actually very scientific.

Genius, full stop.
I had all the self-belief in the universe and the ambition to become a video games designer for Nintendo, a dream I have held in my mind since I was eleven years old when I got my very first home console; the 8 bit NES with Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt. I spent all of my years in high school playing my Super NES and Street Fighter 2, neglecting academia and instead trying to perfect that 4 hit Dragon Punch combo. All I wanted to do was make video games (when I wasn't at Karate classes) and despite voicing this to the school careers advisor, there was next to no resources or advice in the school environment to put me on the right path, so I continued not doing my homework and playing more video games. I managed to get into doing GCSE Information Systems, but was kicked out after a couple of classes when the teacher realised that I had no idea what I was doing. Regardless, I had a burning passion to make video games and that alone would ensure I was never going to be deterred from making it into the video games business, I was emotionally charged with all the right stuff to make my dreams come true.

However, I did not have a scientific plan to take those emotional assets to help me hone my skills and use them effectively to earn my rightful position as protege to the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto. I dreamt of spending every day gleaning from his creative genius yet humble persona, learning about his design philosophies and perhaps running out to the Lawson's outside the Nintendo HQ to get him some Pocky or a Pocari Sweat. However, I failed to plan, thus the plans to my failure had been made. I did make it into the video games business and even enjoyed some relative success, but to this day I have never met Miyamoto :-(

Be careful of getting excited just because you're in the right business or environment, this is where a lot of dreams are broken due to lack of planning. Just like your goals, your plan must also be written down, except it must be broken down into the most minute detail of every step you intend to take and factor in contingency plans if things don't go to plan. In that event, you must have other avenues to explore to keep you moving at all times towards your goal.

In order to get your plan started, you must ask yourself a series of important questions that will help. What steps can you take to get what you want? Who do you need to talk to that can help you get what you want? What do you need to learn to get what you want? To give you a relative example, what I should have done even before I joined the games industry was write down my plan and begin learning and mastering my skills in level design and script writing with a good design tool, and building a portfolio of work that would become part of my reputation. Also, I should have taken proper Japanese business language lessons, instead of just using an audio programme and learning to ask where the toilet is. If I had a plan for my video games dream, maybe right now I would be making the next Super Mario game from my office in Kyoto. Instead, I learnt from my failure and made sure that my goal to become a comic would be replete with perfect planning.

One of the most helpful ways to start planning is to write your goal down and then work backwards, describing the step that would be required before the one ahead of it would be achieved. Project planners use this method to figure out how to release a product on a specific date. Working backwards allows you to set a goal and then build a plan towards it using a step by step method.

Each step must be broken down into individual details.
Once you break down each individual step into as much detail as possible, you'll be then presented with tasks or 'mini-goals' that you can readily achieve towards the journey of your main ambition. For example, I knew that in order to be considered for regular paid work as a comic, I needed a minimum of a solid 20 min set that promoters would want to book me for. I started out working towards a 5 min set, then built my set minute by minute until I got to 20. Then I started to compere, which expanded my skill set. Then after a combination of continuing to build my set minute by minute, joke by joke and developing my compering skills, soon enough my hour long solo show was born. Next thing I knew, I was on my first UK tour. Boom.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Story of a Naive Optimist - Part 2 (Goals)

As cheesy as it sounds in these cynical times, having a goal is essential if you're ever going to get anywhere. I often ask people what their goal or ambition is in life. This is often met with "dunno" or more commonly a reluctance to admit what their goal is in case someone overhears them and laughs, or more accurately because not even they believe that they can achieve their own dreams. Such is the reality of the apathy so prevalent in so many adults.

A life coach I met once told me a neat little trick for those who don't know what they want to do with their lives. Get a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle, on one side list all the things you don't like about your life, then once you're done, on the opposite side write the opposite of all the undesirable qualities you've just listed. Hey presto! You now have a list of things to aim for! If however, you are too fearful to admit you have a dream and share it with anyone, such a fear will remain. A little trick I've employed is something I learnt from watching the character Gai Sensei from the anime; Naruto. He once said something to the effect of "Handcuff yourself to success" whilst challenging someone in athletic competition. I interpreted it as this - By telling everyone you come into contact with what your dream or ambition is, you are handcuffed to succeeding in your endeavour because often enough the fear of failure  is outweighed by the fear of looking like someone who never makes the effort on their intentions. Sure, you will fail in attempting to pursue your endeavours, but by telling everyone you know what you intend to achieve, you'll be more compelled to get back up and try again and again until you succeed. The fear of failure is outweighed by the awe of respect people will give you for achieving your dreams, and furthermore you will inspire them.

We all have dreams, desires, and ambitions. Even totally selfless types like Gandhi and Mother Teresa, they wished for peace and to alleviate suffering from humanity, these are all still valid goals anyone can possess for themselves to contribute towards and achieve.

So, what are your goals?

We all have more than one, be it health, wealth, career, love, spiritual etc. When you can write down what your specific goals are, you can get to work. Having a goal gives you focus, a clear idea of what you're aiming for allows you focus your skills and resources in the direction of where you want to go. If you don't know what you're aiming for, you just might land somewhere you don't want to be. An unfortunate reality of this world is that those who don't know what they want for themselves will often be manipulated into someone else's plan to work for them in return for a relative pittance.

Not only did I dream that I would become a professional comedian, my explicit goal was to play the world famous Comedy Store in London. I was a teenager when I first saw the Comedy Store TV show on late night cable TV, I had no idea that such an environment existed or that such a vocation had a home, but in that midnight hour, a TV show had changed my life. I watched the likes of; Terry Alderton and Adam Bloom (whom now are my mates and peers) make the room erupt with laughter, I watched them and thought to myself "I want to do that". The dream had begun, I was going to become a comedian. However, I had no idea where to start or who to contact. Furthermore, wasn't I chasing an initial dream to become a Video Games Designer?

Terry Alderton; Comedy hero and world record holder of the most consecutive encores at the Comedy Store,.
Fast forward a bit, my career in video games hadn't turned out as planned. The corporate environment of that business was not open to the creative ambitions of a kid with no programming qualifications, although I had a clear goal of working for Nintendo one day, I had no strategy (see part 3) and so my dreams of developing the next Super Mario game disappeared in one of the many disciplinary letters I received for being three minutes late at the battery farm chicken coop video game quality assurance departments I ended up working in. Depressed and broke, I realised that I had to sort my life out, and having experienced the intermittent joys of being an open mic comic and the inherent immediacy of the creative freedoms that come with being a stand-up, I jumped ship and committed myself to becoming a stand-up comedian with my milestone goal to one day play the Comedy Store.

Adam Bloom; Comedy hero and mentor.
I built my set minute by minute over years, I would turn down offers to do ten minutes spots because admittedly at the time I only had eight minutes worth of material. This honesty won me trust with promoters, it turns out such honesty is a rarity in this business. Over a number of years I performed over ten open spots (trials) at the Comedy Store. Sometimes I would have awesome gigs, sometimes I would get away with it, sometimes I would have bad ones, but I never managed to prove myself as reliable or seasoned enough to be considered for a professional role. It broke my heart, and sometimes I would take the night bus home after an open spot at the late show, thinking to myself that I would never become good enough for the Comedy Store. Even after I became a professional comic, performing full time at clubs around the country, even abroad and making a living out of this new vocation, I was still not a professional comic at the Comedy Store and I knew that I would never feel satisfied until I had made it there. I still wasn't good enough, I had to find a way to get even better, fine tune my skills and grow as a comic. I sought advice from the seasoned pros, learned to compere from the best hosts in the country, and received critical mentoring from Adam Bloom. I made that effort to become better because I had a goal; to play the Comedy Store, the home of my comedy dream.

Without that goal fixed firmly in my heart, I would never have made the effort and thus the progress as a comic. These days you can see me at the Comedy Store in London, Manchester and in Mumbai. Not only doing sets, but hosting as well, and as a guest with London's Cutting Edge team, who've taken me under their wing. Now, I get to work with all my comedy heroes and also learn from them, benefiting from their experience and tutelage as I work towards my next goal; to become bigger than Chris Rock...

"If that Imran Yusuf comes anywhere near me, I will drop kick a mofo!"

By the way, that video game dream isn't dead either... stay tuned...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Story of a Naive Optimist - Part 1 (Attitude)

I just watched Will Smith's "The Pursuit of Happyness" for the second time and was inspired to write this blog. The first time I saw this film was on its UK release in the cinemas in 2007, at a time when I had started to build the foundation to my new life following a period of despair. Now, watching it in 2011, I realise how much my life has changed and in retrospect just how 'fast' it all appears to have happened.

I'll be 32 at the end of this month and although I am by legal definition; an "adult", I've managed to retain my inner child; a double-edged sword of naive optimism and unlimited imagination in the midst of adult responsibilities and regular trimming of pubic hair that never bothered me in my pre-pubscent youth.

As a kid, I was always dreaming of the infinite possibilities of what I could be and the adventures I could have. In my entire life, I've never been short for an answer of what I wanted to be when I grew up, there were too many options for my imagination and not enough time to be a professional Footballer and a Ghostbuster. When I wasn't scoring goals, I'd be busting ghosts. Childhood is a journey of invincibility, where our curiosity for life and desire for everything our minds could conjure easily became intentions for our adult lives of the future. However, soon enough the 'reality' of the world soon kicks in, and when attempt meets failure one too many times, coupled with discouragement from naysaying vultures that will soon hover over the carcass of your broken dreams, it's very easy to 'concede defeat' and start towing the line of doing whatever it takes to the pay the bills, fit in with everyone else and perhaps escape into a temporary sense of joy with intoxicants or that holiday you saved for as a reward from the job you hate.

I count myself as 'lucky' for having retained my naive optimism since childhood, as coupled with a total lack of any qualifications (okay, okay, I've got a GNVQ in Art & Design), I've had to rely on imagination and resourcefulness to get me where I am today instead of a certificate and a picture of me wearing that square hat you get when you graduate from university and straight into unemployment.

For the most part, being naively optimistic as an adult will result in a copious amount of ridicule from many others, who'll relish taking potshots at your ambitions, scoffing at your vain beliefs of skill, and laughing heartily when you fall on your face and fail. And you will fail, but it's whether or not you try again that separates those who concede defeat and those who grasp victory by punching the jaws of defeat as many times as it'll take. However, when your naive optimism meets sympathetic hearts and ears, the potency of your attitude reveals its nourishing qualities and strengthens your resolve and that of others who, like you, believe anything is possible. I once shared my dream to become a comedian with a colleague at work, to which he frowned and replied "It's okay to have dreams and ambitions, but I wouldn't put my money on ya". Fast forward a few years, I'm no longer testing video games on a rolling contract on minimum wage.

Attitude is where it all begins, the very foundation and fuel to living life at the speeds and heights you desire to achieve. As a nation, we're comparably very apathetic when compared to our American cousins, and this can be seen in our TV shows. Many American shows have an upbeat and positive vibe to them, whatever the jeopardy, Jack Bauer always attempted to save the day, and with no toilet breaks. We're never going to have total control over how our lives unfold, but we always have total control over our attitude. How we choose to emotionally and practically deal with a situation is entirely in our power, and even when faced with what feels like impossible odds, know that there are plenty of people in the world who overcome those odds with the right attitude.

Wherever you are in life, everything starts in your mind, and nothing beats an optimistic attitude.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Staying healthy at the Edinburgh Festival

We're over the half way mark in Edinburgh, some have fallen to illness, sore throats and even bruised or broken hearts. Staying physically and mentally healthy during Edinburgh is quite a task whilst we peddle our performances for the entertainment of audiences and the critique of critics who may or may not like what they believe satiates their own diverted ambitions that became writing on the internet.

Being the eternal naive optimist that I am, I've kept a strong discipline in staying healthy through a combination of exercise, diet and positive thinking during this physically and mentally challenging time of the Edinburgh Festival, in which I have the added bonus feature of observing Ramadan.

So, allow me to share some of my health tips on how to keep in a great state during the festival -

I keep my muscles ripped during the festival with a simple daily routine using the convenience of my bedroom door using the revolutionary Iron Gym, an exercise device that has been constructed from almost random bits of metal and compiled by a genius who figured out how to fix such equipment to a door frame without the need for drilling or planning permission.

Check the guns... check the armour.

Despite having such a light frame which has made me the victim of casual insults from those who envy my lightening fast metabolism, I eat healthily during the festival, often switching between pasta, kebabs and Nando's, you know, the important food groups. In addition to this strict diet of carbohydrates and protein, I supplicate my meals with a daily routine of whey protein, Berocca and Seven Seas cod liver oil + multivitamins. This combination of food and drugs gives me loads of energy to burn, alongside my 9 tails chakra.

Berocca is sometimes like Senzu beans.

The Edinburgh Festival is the biggest arts festival in the world, however it is also a trade fair and the more astute business minded individuals will understand the importance of bringing a corporate professionalism to the table, one that I learnt from my many years in the video games business. Observing Ramadan always encourages me to remember how fortunate I am for what I have, and that the daylight hunger is only really a slight discomfort in the greater scope of the blessings and fortunes I have in my life. The attitude of gratitude is the first step to develop real wealth, then it's all about hard work, and I'm here to do my best, learn from my mistakes, become better and become the success I dream of becoming. Only a few years ago I was broke, feeling overwhelmed by the inadequacies in every area of my life and feeling way out of my depth as a comedian at this festival. All of that changed very fast because I had a very clear goal, developed a detailed strategy and took massive Anthony Robbins-style action.

If I can do it, you can do it. Break the rules, beat the system, become whatever you can dream...

Monday, 15 August 2011

Having a great time in Edinburgh

Right now, I am in a delicate situation as I optimistically wait for my black socks to dry in time for my show which is just about over an hour from starting, however my Jack Bauer-esque realism knows that I'm going to have to go and buy a fresh pack if I am not to look like a numpty wearing black shoes with white socks this evening.

Apart from this wardrobe drama, I'm having a great time in Edinburgh, the show is going great, I've really hit my rhythm now and audiences are enjoying the show. A couple of four star reviews from the press and more importantly being stopped in the street by fans who love the show has already made this Edinburgh a rewarding experience, not to mention the secret stuff that is still to be announced... oh, and that I have discovered deep fried Mars bars.

I'm having loads of fun, here is an interview with me by a hawte chick from Ed Fest Magazine -

So far, so good, however a career in the comedy world is a long game, and I'm in it for life, so stay tuned and I'll prove that sometimes all you need is a lot of heart and that everything will be okay... even if your black socks still haven't dried yet! DATTEBAYO!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Attacked in Edinburgh

I've just got back to my flat from a late night double deep fried Mars bar experience to find my flatmate and American comic; Chris Coxen with two black eyes after being attacked by a gang of 5-7 feral cunts.

I've also found out that comedian Mark Simmons has also been the victim of an attack, in which his money and phone were stolen, however his assailants were caught shortly after by the Police. In the four full festivals I have done, I have never heard of such violence, although a few years ago I once saw a violent drunkard get battered by security in Bristo Square after he punched fellow comic Paul McCaffrey for no reason.

Here we are at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the biggest and oldest arts festival in the world, where artists, performers, musicians, comedians etc come to from all over the planet to share and celebrate their wares with audiences and industry. This event is an amazing example of human artistry and beauty, it is something that enriches our lives and embraces our divine virtues, this event is a time of joy. However, due to the wanton procreation and perpetuation of feral humanoids whose only manifesto is to destroy, this festival has been blighted for at least a couple of people whose enjoyment and efforts has been ruined by the predatory behaviour of a bunch of animals.

I'm sharing a flat with Chris, one of the nicest guys I've ever met, a true hard working gentlemen who came to the UK to pursue his dream to showcase his talents as a character comedian. This is his first full run at the Edinburgh Festival, he's put incredible effort, financial investment and made personal sacrifices to get here all the way from his home in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. And now his festival experience has been blighted by such an act of unwarranted violence. If you're in Edinburgh, it'd cheer him up if you check out his show; Chris Coxen's Space Clone Audition, Cabaret Voltaire @ 2:30pm. However, with his eye swollen up, he might not be around performing tomorrow.

If you're at the Edinburgh Festival, please beware during the late nights and be ready should any shithead try to attack you. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, and the good guys will prevail...

Peace x

Thursday, 11 August 2011

London Riots & Edinburgh

As I sit in my comfy Edinburgh flat during the pockets of Scottish sun that teases us before raining unabatedly with a biting cold that can only be escaped by entering one of the various shows that cook the audience and performers like an oven thanks to Britain's inability to invest in air-conditioning, London and now the rest of England is being engulfed by riots that have blighted the lives of so many with violence and looting.

As opinions get bandied around social networking sites, what has become apparent is that the advantages, privileges and the blessing it is to live in the civilised world has become all too blurred with the developing nations and civil unrests we are used to seeing in other countries, as our country comes to a standstill whilst we watch and suffer at the hands of mobs of thugs, thieves and general epic product failures of human copulation.

I could go on for ever with a massive dissection of these events, but there is already enough news out there for everyone to deal with, so I am going to put it as bluntly as this -

In the world, there are a contingent of people who are easily identified not by a genetic or ideological qualities, but by the hallmark of bellend-ed-ness that constitutes their behaviour as massive wastes of space. Most people are actually quite cool, able to get along with one another, who go about their lives in relative peace learning about the world they live in and enjoying the company of everyone else with whom they share friendships, all of whom try and contribute something meaningful through their vocation and the way they go about their lives. Sound like you? Of course it does, that's why you're reading this blog, because you CAN read and if you're reading my blog, you're most probably not a specimen of bipedal mammalians whose diet consists of chemically-laced fried poultry substitute that is often accompanied by chips in a box that can feed an entire family of feral gremlins born from the illicit union of a whirlwind romance that occurred behind a school bike shed. If that sounded like a sweeping statement against a certain socio-economic demographic, it is, all people conceived behind school bike sheds are trouble. Their parents should have had some decency and go to a Travelodge, like everyone else does.

However, it's not all doom and gloom, especially here in rainy Edinburgh where the rays of artistic hopes and dreams perforate the clouds of grey and pepper the streets with flyers and posters that entice you to partake in one of the many millions of performances to tickle your funny bone or induce you to stroke your chin to tales of whimsy involving badgers and jam. I am performing my second solo show Bring The Thunder at the Pleasance Courtyard every day @ 7pm, and today things got off to a good start with a lovely FOUR STAR review from the Telegraph -

Click here for the The Telegraph Review

Then I got a call inviting me to two very nice telly opportunities and then I finally hit my rhythm at my solo show, after a week of trying to manage the energy in the room in the best way possible. Playing Edinburgh audiences can be a little tricky for a relative up and coming comic like me, an Edinburgh audience can often be so receptive that any attempt to chat to them at the start of the show can backfire as they often just want the comic to get on with the show and do material. Having gleaned this from the awkward opening minute I had endured in the first week, I now came out guns blazing, straight into my set, which proved to be the best thing to do. Now that I've found my rhythm, the rest of this festival will be a lot more fun, then onwards and upwards to the very exciting projects I have in store for the foreseeable future.

Also, a certain someone told me that they miss me...

Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Comedy Store, Mumbai, India.

The Comedy Store now have a state of the art, brand new venue in the country of the fastest growing economy in the world. Yes, that's right, English speaking comedy has come to India!

The most famous brand of stand-up comedy club in the world has come to Mumbai, not only as a comedy club, but as a bar, restaurant and club for party goers. Situated in a very nice shiny shopping mall all the way on the top floor sits the new comedy club with the familiar branding and set-up of the London and Manchester clubs in England. Run by British owners, yet the staff are mostly Indian and extremely helpful and polite, sometimes it feels like being treated like a celebrity.

I've only been here a few days and it is my first time in India, and it is probably the first time anyone from my family alive today has spent any time in the country since my Great Grand Father took the entire family and left for East Africa all those years ago. I have some heritage here, but only a little, most of my family has been in East Africa for a long time now and they consider that as home. I spend most of my time in the hotel, which is very nice, and spend my time chilling with the other comics, eating, going to the gym, swimming in the pool and trying not to evaporate into thin air in the sauna.

Mumbai is growing, the divide between rich and poor is sharp. The affluent and poor are so easily definable by such a visible contrast, and the inherent prejudices that come with such paradigms of identity also mean that the poor are prevented from even entering the mall. Whilst many have jobs and can afford a life that many of us in Britain take for granted, the poor must simply work for food or die. As we drive towards the gig, we pass the millions of people who live here, some of them taking the train, some of them working in shacks that can sell you shoes for £2, repair your computer or even cut your hair in the street! The worst off are the vendors who squat for hours, even in the torrential rain of India's monsoon season, selling fruit, vegetables, or mass produced items like combs. Sometimes I notice that if I smile and say 'Hello' to any of the cleaning staff in the hotel or in the mall, they are shocked that I am even talking to them. There is no welfare here like we have at home, you simply have to hustle for a living, and if you're lucky enough to be born into the right family, it can make the difference between living in poverty or living the conventional lives that many of us can easily attain at home in Britain. It's not all doom though, it'll pass to some degree one day. As India continues to grow as the fastest growing economy in the world, all eyes are on this part of the world and on China as the next big thing. So if you;re reading this, it might be a good time to learn Urdu/Hindi and Mandarin. Or ladies, marry an Asian guy.... ;-p

The gig itself is AWESOME! Indian audiences love English speaking comedy, they understand 99% of our British references, they love international politics, they love naughty comedy (sex), but they don't do blasphemy here, which is a bit of a relief because sometimes on the British circuit, that topic seems to be over saturated with a real hate. However, the local rivalry here in Mumbai is with anything to do with Pakistan, which can come off somewhat potentially as perceived racism in a way, but this is all new to me as I am experience brown on brown prejudices in the homeland of brownness. What is very intriguing though is that Indian audiences LOVE having their accent mocked. I've seen the fantastic Simon Bligh and Paul Tonkinson talk about their experiences in India, mimicking the local accent to a very receptive Indian audience who applaud such comedy. It's all in good nature, more observational than mockery really, it's hilarious to watch British comics and Indian audiences celebrate their difference in such a way that has never seen the light of day anywhere else before!

The audiences are 99% Indian, with the rare appearance of a European or specifically of a fellow Brit who chimes in on the British references and allows me to feel more at home as a result. There is often a local Indian open spot act who does about 7 mins before the closing act. These guys are good, they work hard and do their comedy in English and the audience love them just as much. I sit at the back of the room after my set and watch the show from the audience's perspective, and it is such a joy. Everyone is their to have a good time, not to get drunk and heckle. All the acts get a lot of love and when Indians laugh, they really go for it. I couldn't help but feel that this is what comedy is all about and that all comedy clubs should be exactly like this.

I've been freestyling my sets a little, using various routines from the bank of material I have built up over the years, and also pepper my sets with asides in Urdu, which always go down a storm here. It's early days, I'm just into my first weekend and there is more to come, so I am enjoying the experience and writing loads of new material as a result.

So, yes, I am having a great time. I've wanted to play he Comedy Store since I was a teenager and now about 15 years later I have made it not only to the Wembley of comedy; which is the Comedy Store in London, but to the brand new one in India that is bringing something new to the masses in a live environment exactly like the original Comedy Store did in London over 30 years ago and changed the face of live comedy for ever.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

My brand new TV pilot on BBC3!

I am excited to reveal that after what seems an age in negotiations, discussions and planning, that I shall be embarking on a new journey as the host of my very own TV show pilot on BBC3.

Here's a more official-sounding announcement - 

His self-titled show will feature a mix of stand up, sketches and animation, based around the comedian and his previous job as a games developer.
BBC Three boss Zai Bennett has commissioned the show from independent production house Brown Eyed Boy.
Its managing director Gary Reich said Yusuf was ‘one of the most dynamic, passionate and hardest working comics in the country today’.
He told Broadcast: ‘We’re grateful to BBC3 for once more putting new and emerging talent at the forefront of their ambitions.’

This is all very exciting, especially since I've now got a broader platform upon which to communicate my ideas, especially since I am quite the visual comic and the fact that my previous life in the video games business would be perfect for the opportunity of the televisual box of wonders. I am over the moon with this shot at telly and I vow to make the BEST TV SHOW EVER with great new characters that will take you on a roller coaster ride through my crazy comedy world, all hosted by me with the kind of stand-up comedy my fans love. It's going to be a unique fusion of all the influences in my life and yet be a very original British comedy that will appeal to many people for many different reasons. Whilst I was on tour, I noticed that my audiences were incredibly mixed. Watching what appeared to be skinheads sitting and laughing alongside girls in hijabs, and the old ladies bopping their heads to my pre-show music of Eric B & Rakim, I realised that I can truly communicate something with broad appeal, and if I can do anything to build bridges, then all the better.

Now, I better get some sleep, I'm flying to India tomorrow and then eventually back to the UK to put the finishing touches to my Edinburgh show ahead of the upcoming festival. The announcement of the new show is imminent, stay tuned!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Things I am looking forward to this year...

Hello lovely fans (and haters who read this because they have nothing better to do)!

I'm finally done with my tour, two months of intense travelling and performing have come to a close as I now prepare to fly to India and perform at The Comedy Store in Mumbai. It's been quite exhausting, but I've had loads of fun meeting my actual fans; the wide diverse array of people who come to my shows, whose presence has been a testament to the beauty of our multicultural and actually well integrated society in which comedy has been a bonding experience for us all. Yes, that's right, some of us are getting along and loving life, whilst haters continue to hate and live in the insular microcosm of their own misery. Feel free to join us, you only need to bring your own smile!

I know it's been a while since I updated my blog, in fact, Osama Bin Laden had to make the headlines to get me writing last time, but this time it's for me and you :-)

I am incredibly busy, my career is going from strength to strength like Goku from DragonBall Z in which he increasingly powers up over several episodes before putting the bad guy to rest. So, I'd like to take this opportunity to share with you what I am looking forward to this year -

Comedy Store Mumbai
My favourite gig in the world has opened up a club in Mumbai, India and I am going to perform there as of this week for two weeks in total. I've heard that it is meant to be an awesome gig, where British comedy is being lapped up by the Indians who enjoy their accents being mocked. Also, I believe I may be the first British Asian to play the gig, so it should be a nice surprise for the locals should I slip in a few Urdu/Hindi bits. With India being one of the fastest growing economies thanks to outsourcing call centre contracts, cost-effective labour and definitely not the rise of corner shops. However, fellow comics have told me of the poverty they witnessed, which sits right outside the affluence of the developments that grow right in front of destitute people. This was too much for some comics to stomach, and so I naturally fear how I might react when I see it myself. I've seen it before though, in East Africa and during my travels in the middle east, where the poor have nowhere near the opportunity of welfare or any assistance. Expect to hear more about this on my blog whilst I am out there.

E3 - Unveiling of Project: Cafe
I am a massive Nintendo fan, I have been since I was a kid with my 8bit NES and copy of Super Mario Bros. I love playing video games, and when I'm not pwning n00bs on Xbox Live (or being verbally abused by American kids who hate the British), I'm often on my Nintendo DS revisiting Phantom Hourglass recently. Whilst I am in India, Nintendo will (may) reveal the very first official news of their next home console supposedly dubbed "Stream" or "Project: Cafe". Apparently it is more powerful than PS3 and Xbox 360 and will come with a more conventional controller albeit with a touch screen that can have the game streamed straight to the controller. As long as I get my Mario, Zelda, Metroid etc, I'm happy. Also, the new Mario 3DS will be revealed, and that is going to be AWESOME and you know it. I've still got to get a 3DS, but will wait for Mario Kart, Mario 3DS and RE5 before I do.

Edinburgh Festival
With my tour now done, "An Audience with Imran Yusuf" is last year's news. So prepare yourself for my brand new solo show which will debut in Edinburgh this year in August. What is the show called? Where in Edinburgh will it be? What is the show about? I hear you ask, but I am keeping it a secret for now, all details are about to be revealed very, very soon. However, if you like my upbeat positivity, then you'll love this show ;-) It'll be Ramadan during the festival again this year, however this time I am not trying to beat my 101 gigs in 25 days record!

TV project
Erm... this is kinda secret for now, but rest assured you will get to see my wiry frame and silly face on TV again, I'll even send you tickets if you sign up to my mailing list on my website!

Another TV project
Erm... another secret for now, but here is a teaser of who I was working with recently -

Say what you see!
I've already done a number of spots on BBC Radio 4. The Now Show with Punt & Dennis and Rory Bremner. The News Quiz with Sandi Toksvig, and Arthur Smith's Balham Bash. Expect to hear more of me there as you can over here -

Right, that's enough for now, this will keep me busy for a while. Along with buying a new place in a swish part of London and nurturing my newly formed life of creativity and joy with a loved one, all of the above will add to the journey I am on towards the life I desire to live and the fulfilment I wish to experience. Remember, anything is possible and there is always a way to win!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Osama Bin Laden is dead

Yep, you read it right, Mr Bin Laden of Al-Qaeda fame, credited for numerous US embassy bombings, two attacks on the WTC, previously trained and equipped by the CIA, is dead after an operation by US soldiers in a mansion in Pakistan.

Sprung into somewhat celebrity-styled infamy as America's Most Wanted after 9/11, it's apparent from the public reaction that a massive sense of relief is being enjoyed. So, I thought I'd take this opportunity to look back over the last ten years and recall my experiences of life post-9/11.

On 11th September 2001, I was working for Midway Games, an American video games publisher whose European office was based in the upmarket end of High Street Kensington. I was the token Muslim guy in the office, I was young and afraid of girls, which my fellow female colleagues thought was hilarious and perhaps somewhat cute. I was naive, enthusiastic and had ambitions to one day work for Nintendo in Japan. During the early afternoon, a man walked into the office I was in and said "Have you heard? Someone's just flown a plane into the World Trade Centre". It was quite odd that someone who worked in a neighbouring office and not from Midway Games would walk into my office to tell me something like that, also in my head I imagined that his comment meant that some idiot in a two seater glider had flown into the antennae and probably just injured or killed himself. I mean, who'd fly a plane into a building on purpose? Who could even get that far with all the radar coverage in the air anyway?

For the first few minutes, there was a laughable buzz in the office of our American company as we imagined this to be a civilian accident. Suddenly, things went cold. As I heard of a second plane going into the second tower, I ran over to the Finance Manager to tell her what I heard. As I ran in there still thinking it was all a big accident, I saw the look on her face as she grabbed the phone to speak to her family in the USA. Now I started to realise that it wasn't some accident, but that there was some kind of attack happening in the USA. With the world now going chaotic, we still had work to do and today was critical as our prize game for Xmas 2001; Spy Hunter was in Sony submission and we needed to get it approved.

After work I went to the gym where there was a TV in the changing rooms, and that's when I saw the very first pictures of what had happened to the WTC. It was no accident, something big had happened, and it was really, really bad. Deep in my gut, I started to fear that these attacks may have been orchestrated by some Islamic-related group or something and that this would be the beginning of some really bad anti-Islamic sentiment. I was right, and the world changed in a very horrible way for ever.

The last 10 years have been interesting. Fears, prejudice, religion, paranoia, introspection have been probably more pertinent than ever before, at least they have been for me. I remember that every time I would get on a train with a bag, the looks I would get. If I felt that people were afraid, I would open my bag and take a book out, then I'd see people around me easing up. Once, whilst standing at London Bridge Tube, a young chav-type saw me, turned to his friend and said "nah mate, terrorism" and then walked further away to another carriage. Every time I would go through an airport, a smarmy security official who wishes he was Jack Bauer would always give me hassle, my name and image was enough to set off paranoia and give some school drop-out with a badge a reason to feel that he was checking me as a potential terror threat. With nothing to hide, I'd let them do their job and always be polite, even though the patronising tone of their voice would always remind me that I would forever be the target of discrimination and profiling in this bellend-ed world of idiot human retards. I could share some more examples, but you get my drift.

Right now, as I write this, I am watching the BBC News feed of a jubilant crowd outside the White House, rejoicing over the news that Osama Bin Laden is dead. And although this is meant to be "good" news, I can't help but fear that it'll be a catalyst for the ignorant and violent factions of society on all sides to demonstrate how epically stupid they are by doing something that will further fan the flames of hate.

I guess we'll have to see what happens next, but I think we can all agree that we can do with some respite from all this fear, whether it be legitimate or mongered.

Monday, 18 April 2011

On tour, baby!!

Backstage at Hemel Hempstead before the show.
Hello my loyal followers!

I'm currently on tour with my fantabulous support act Jason Patterson (@jpattersoncomic), and the touring lifestyle is proving to be a lot of fun and a challenge with all the travelling required. We often drive into a new town or city a few hours before a show, get ready, perform, meet the fans after the show and then drive back to London (when we're not staying over when further afield). It's like this, day in, day out, and the days all blur together and the sense of time seems to blur along with it all.

We're having a great time, the turnouts have been great, a few venues have sold out, and some have had enormous walk ups too. We're not even half way through yet and it already feels like I've been away for months! On the couple of days that we're not on tour, I am often back in London having meetings and writing for the next solo show which will be announced soon, so stay tuned.

I get all suited and booted for my shows, which the girls seem to adore ;-) and all the venues have been so much fun to play. It's such a thrill to be on tour, it's so different to playing a comedy club and being part of a bill, where it's all about the team work and sometimes having to win over tough crowds. Many fans have asked me for merchandise, of which there is none for this tour. But rest assured, the Imran Yusuf paraphernalia is on the way with a DVD coming to you one day soon!

Things are really taking off, there are lots of exciting things to reveal very soon as I continue to ascend in the comedy world towards my dream of creating something really special. I'll endeavour to update this blog more often now, with updates from the tour when we're on the road. For now, stay tuned to my Facebook Fan Page and follow me on Twitter (@imranyusuf) for the latest updates.

Okay, bedtime now, I have loads of meetings tomorrow and then dinner with some old friends from the video games industry. Sweet dreams! :-)