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.