Even though standup comedy is considered one of the scariest high-wire acts in show business, Ali Hassan says the real pressure cooker is in the kitchen.
Hassan, an actor and comic who’s featured on numerous CBC shows, will appear at Devour! Fox Harb’r from May 18-20 at the Fox Harb’r Resort, a satellite event of Devour! The Food Film Fest.
He started doing standup as a way to improve his confidence.
“My goal was to be on television, I wanted to be a chef on television, I thought I could entertain people on TV and cook and be funny simultaneously. It’s a lot harder than it looks, as it turned out,” said Hassan, whose early material revolved around food.
“Basically, it was a means to an end, comedy, when I started it, but then I fell in love with it immediately and it became another life altogether.”
That was to the dismay of his parents, who wanted him to have a good paying job with security and a pension.
“Two of the lowest-paying professions, especially when you’re starting, are cooking and telling jokes on stage, and I was doing both,” he said. “But once I started getting on television, my father, who was a professor, was like ‘OK, maybe this guy will make something of himself.’” One of the benefits of working in comedy, he says, is you sometimes get to drink on stage, but Hassan’s comedy success means he doesn’t do as much cooking as he used to, and he misses the rush.
“You never get in the weeds in comedy the sameway you do in cooking. It’s physical, extremelydemanding on your entire body when all of a sudden you get a bunch of orders
or something goes wrong,” he said. “In comedy, things can go wrong but what’s the worst thing that can happen?
Getting chased out of town by some racist guys? And that’s never even happened.”
Hassan was one of the featured chefs at Devour! last year, and managed to work some comedy into the introduction of his dishes. He’ll be performing at the Fox Harb’r event, and also cooking alongside chefs Michael Howell and Shane Robilliard.
Details on the weekend-long event of eating, drinking, touring and laughing can be found at www.devourfest.com.