On Feb. 15, Union Board hosted a comedy show featuring Gibran Saleem in the Central Dining Room. An audience of about 50 was very quiet as he got on stage, but became more comfortable as his skit went on.
“Laughing is not illegal here,” Saleem said.
Saleem started out with jokes about his culture, as his parents immigrated from Pakistan and raised him in North Carolina. He told the crowd it was okay if they have trouble pronouncing his name because people sometimes call him by what they want to hear.
“Sometimes I’ll introduce myself to people as Gibran and they’ll say, ‘Nice to meet you, Muhammad.’ And I’m just like, how did you… figure out my middle name?” Saleem said.
The crowd enjoyed his openness about his ethnicity and laughed hysterically at the opening joke.
Saleem went on to talk about how his dad tells the story of his immigration.
He said that his dad tried to convince everyone how poor he was when he immigrated to the United States by saying he had just $4.99 in his pocket.
“So I always ask him, ‘Dad were you on sale?’ Like, why the 99 cents?” Saleem said. “I think he blew all his money on mom. Everyone calls it arranged, but my dad just calls it a good deal.”
Continuing with the jokes regarding his Pakistani heritage, he asked the crowd if they have ever seen a “little brown kid” play the game Operation.
“It’s not a game for us,”Saleem said. “It is an internship.”
It was Saleem’s first time in Springfield, and was under the impression that it was the town “The Simpsons” took place in.
After being corrected by a crowd member, he engaged the audience by asking where people were from.
He was very interested that one of the female crowd members was from the Bronx. After making a couple jokes about how tough she must be, he told the audience that he attended graduate school in New York and actually started doing stand-up comedy there.
“I walked into a bar when I was having a mental block with my thesis and an open mic was going on,” Saleem said. “I decided eventually that I wanted to try it because it’s New York where people do things like this.”
He closed the show after talking about relationships, admitting that he told an ex-girlfriend that he was gay to prove he was handling their break-up well and wanted nothing to do with her.
“All of you pursuing majors, keep doing it,” Saleem said. “And all of you in relationships keep… I wanted to say keep doing it, but I thought it sounded weird.”