Stand up and fight: three comedians talk jokes and hypnosis

As the Dubai Comedy Festival kicks off, Axis of Evil comedy group member Maz Jobrani and co-founders of Dubai Laughing, Ray Addison and Salman Qureshi, discuss insulting blind men and alternative careers

Maz Jobrani, comedian, actor and member of the Axis of Evil comedy group

The first time I performed was when I was about four years old in Iran. I think I had the part of a tree, but I was talking too much so I was demoted into the choir. It was my first taste of the rejection that I would later receive from Hollywood.

Maz Jobrani
Maz Jobrani, comedian, actor and member of the Axis of Evil comedy group

If I could be anything else I'd be a professional soccer player or a rock star. Or a professor. I just want to be in front of people. I think I've got to see my therapist about this.

One time there was a guy wearing sunglasses in the front row of a show I was doing in Los Angeles. He had on a LA Dodger's hat and looked like he was trying to be cool. I asked him some questions and he really took his time answering them. I thought he was stoned and I did a few jokes about that. When my set was over, the poor guy leaned to his right, picked up a walking stick and walked out. He was blind! I felt like such an idiot.

When people find out I'm into comedy they often tell me jokes that they think I should use. I usually have to politely decline.

Salman Qureshi, stand-up comedian and co-founder of Dubai Laughing

One of the oddest things to have ever happened to me while doing stand up is being asked to end my set early because dinner was being served. The organiser just walked up in front of the stage, waved his arms and asked me to get off.

Ray Addison
Salman Qureshi, stand-up comedian and co-founder of Dubai Laughing

The worst thing that's ever happened to me while performing stand up was having no one laugh. There was an audience of around 100, 200 people – and not a single person laughed. Fun times!

When people find out I'm a comedian, they usually ask what I do for a living.

My own favourite one-liner is "I was unsuccessful and was told 'you're the company you keep' so I started hanging around successful people. Now we're all unsuccessful."

Ray Addison, stand-up comedian and co-founder of Dubai Laughing

The weirdest thing that’s ever happened to me while doing stand up is being hit by a laminated A4 card that was being thrown at another comedian by a guy who didn’t like the jokes he was telling.

I am a comedian because I am too scared to skydive or climb mountains. You could say that comedy is my Mount Everest.

Salman Qureshi
Ray Addison, stand-up comedian and co-founder of Dubai Laughing

I overcome stage fright by listening to self-hypnosis tapes. They chill you out, and then when you’re asleep, they tell you nice things about yourself. I have no idea if they’re working, but I am one hundred per cent sure that I am awesome.

Middle Eastern comedy is whatever comedians here say it is. You can't put labels on stand-up comedy, and the breadth of talent and creativity is far higher than people might imagine.

Check out www.mazjobrani.com. The Dubai Comedy Festival will take place at various venues around Dubai until 24 October