Imran Yusuf: 'I realised both extremes were untenable'
- Arusa Qureshi
- 1 August 2018
This article is from 2018
With his coming of middle-age show, the Kenya-born, London-raised comic tackles hypocrisy and judgement and aims to improve the world, bit by bit
There may be a dichotomy between the notion of being a 'saint' and a 'sinner', but for Imran Yusuf, this contrast has gradually become blurred. In reflecting on the last 20 years of his life, he's arrived at the realisation that although he could once have been considered a bastion of virtue, he grew to adopt the traits of those he once judged, alongside the acknowledgement of his narrow-minded discernment of certain types.
'The positive that came out of this was that I saw the humanity in the people I would otherwise judge and deliberately avoid out of a nasty judgment I once possessed,' he explains. 'Developing the humility through experience to engage those who you judge is an eventuality of this journey. Then after having lived at these two extremes, at around the age of 38, I realised both extremes were untenable to who I wanted to ultimately become.'
Saint, Sinner, Sufi is Yusuf's coming of middle-age show that explores hypocrisy and judgement, and his own personal journey to both ends of the spectrum and the middle ground that appears once you've crossed those extremes. Like his identity and beliefs, Yusuf's comedy has grown and adapted in a way that allows him to be self-reflective.
'Humans make small progress with each generation and diminish the negative effects relative to our immediate environment by taking responsibility for our ability to effect change. With this all in mind, I realised that the duty I choose for myself is to make the world a better place. Like Gandhi-ji said, "be the change you want to see in the world".'
With his upcoming Fringe run, the comedian will take on a number of pertinent themes in typically humorous fashion while giving pause for thought. 'Audiences can expect a nice combination of exciting punchy socio-political satire on how much there is to celebrate despite these "difficult" and "divisive" times, a brave admission of my own ignorances and faults and why, really, the future has always been bright.'
Imran Yusuf: Saint, Sinner, Sufi, The Stand's New Town Theatre, 2–26 August