To say that Zakir Khan is just a popular stand-up comedian would be to miss his larger impact entirely. His is the most unlikely of stories – a college drop-out from Indore whose preferred medium is Hindi, breaking into a English-dominated scene. Today, he is one of the most loved and celebrated stand-up comedians in India, once hailed by Tanmay Bhat as the country’s most important stand-up act. From winning the title of ‘India’s Best Stand Up’ in a 2012 Comedy Central show to selling 100,000 tickets across 72 cities in 2023 alone with the new special Mannpasand, his has been an incredible journey.
Zakir’s approach to comedy is anecdotal, personal and heartfelt, and his delivery poetic and rustic at the same time. His appeal lies in his relatability – he has often said he used humor as a shield when bullied as a child, and his stories are punctuated with phrases that have become catchphrases, including the iconic ‘sakht launda’. This has won him a massive following in a short span of time – including 7.56 million on YouTube and 5.7 million on Instagram. But more impressive than these numbers is the reaction of his legions of fans during one of his live shows – be it at a small comedy club in Mumbai, a sold-out auditorium performance in Delhi, or even to an adoring diaspora in the 20+ countries he has performed in.
Zakir has had considerable success on the screen as well – his Amazon Prime Video stand-up comedy specials, Tathastu, Haq Se Single and Kaksha Gyaarvi, are among the highest-rated specials by an Indian comedian, clocking 9.1, 8.6, and 8.3 respectively. He has also produced the critically-acclaimed web series, Chacha Vidhayak Hai Hamare in 2018. He was a judge and mentor on the first two seasons of Amazon Prime Video’s comedy hunt original, Comicstaan, as well as on Star TV’s The Indian Laughter Challenge in 2017. He also has a podcast, Ummeed, on the audio streaming platform Gaana.
Despite all the numbers, ratings and awards, perhaps his greatest achievement will be how he ushered in a new type of comedy in India, inspiring hundreds of open-micers to take to stage, and see their flaws not as impediments but as advantages. Most excitingly, he is only 34 – meaning he has years of comedy, inspiration, poetry and stories left to share. His burgeoning fan base will be waiting.\
Age: 18+ years
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