Umar Sharif: The King of Stage Comedy

Posted on March 6, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Humor, People, TV, Movies & Theatre
52 Comments
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Adil Najam

Although I have always found Umar Sharif’s comedy to be socialy poignant, hard-hitting, and often hilarious, I must confess that I was not a great Umar Sharif fan growing up. This was largely an age and timing thing. But it is quite clear that there has been no stage comedy phenomenon in Pakistan like Umar Sharif either before or after him.

Although he has now taken on a broader – even sub-continental – canvas, his early work was very rooted in the Pakistan mega-city culture; especially Karachi and Lahore.ÂÂ His ‘burger’ kid routine really went home on the social and economic apartheid that still tears at our society. Sometimes the pungency of his jugaat masks the craftsmanship of his theatrical performance, but to me there are very few who command the ‘stage’ presence that he does, particularly in the stage play. Indeed, he was to stage comedy in Pakistan was Fifty-Fifty (and here) was to television comedy.

Moeen Akhtar, obviously, has ruled he stage show scenaro like no other; but his stage presence is of compare and senior fankaar. The Umar Sharif phenomenon is primarily about the stage comedy play. Even though he has tried to become a Mueen Akhtar look-alke as stage compare, that is not his forte and in that role Moeen still rule (at least for me).


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And within the genre of the Pakstani stage comedy play, there is nothing that even remotely comes close to Baqra Qistoun Peh; which, in some ways, is Omar Sharif’s signature performance. Here is a clip from that play which demonstrates why:

52 Comments on “Umar Sharif: The King of Stage Comedy”

  1. Mutazalzaluzzaman Tarar says:
    March 6th, 2007 2:50 pm

    Umer Sharif is like a less sophisticated, less refined Moin Akhtar. he was funny some ten years ago. now his stuff is pretty unfunny.

  2. Farrukh says:
    March 6th, 2007 3:18 pm

    I agree that he recent stuff is same old same old and has become routine. But at his peak he was new and fresh and very very different from everyone else. Certainly from MueenAkhtar who always wanted to sound so very ‘sophisicated’ as you put it. What made Omar Shareef so popular was that he seemed real. He may not have pronounced words right, but his issues and his subjects and his jokes were the things that people actually were talking about. He seemed to be of the people and worried about things they were worried about. That was his power.

  3. March 6th, 2007 4:19 pm

    If you grew up anywhere near the urban Karachi city, the Nazimabads, Golimar, Lalookhet, Malir etc you would not only find Umar Sharif’s comedy funny, but also real and close to life. He introduced hilarious (though perhaps unsophisticated) verbage to everyday Urdu language in the city. In many ways, his style and delivery was as much influenced by the urdu-medium lower-middle class mohajir tabqaa of Karachi, as they were by him and the stage show culture of the 80′s.

    Umar Sharif fans are the people who grew up in the tumultuous, yet exciting at the same time, Karachi politics of late 80s and early 90s. I am a big fan, and I could see a bit of Umar Sharif in every person I met at a political jalsa, juloos, and rally then. Chewing a pan, riding a motorcycle, making fun of a bihari or a Bengali – all the while knowing that we were all in the same boat – the idea that Iss hammam mein sab nangey hain.

    Umar Sharif’s jokes allowed Karachiites to learn to laugh at themselves – and that is one aspect of his comedy I will always be thankful for.

  4. Akif Nizam says:
    March 6th, 2007 4:50 pm

    In his early days, Umar Sharif embodied the humor of “lower middle class” Karachi. This section of Karachiites have a very distinct sense of humor, ripe with insults, curious observations, put downs of the opponents and yet intensely funny. I loved him growing up and I agree with the earlier post that he influenced the vernacular of the entire city.

    I also agree that he no longer posseses the same alacrity he once did.

    It’s unfair to compare him to Moeen Akhtar who is in a completely different class in my opinion, given the fact he is still relevant after probably 30 years performing.

  5. The Pakistanian says:
    March 6th, 2007 6:01 pm

    Bakra QistoN Pe was Umer Sharif’s magnum opus which even garnered him a lot of popularity/notoriety in India. After that, none of his stage dramas gained any popularity or were remotely as funny as this one. He even tried his luck on the big screen and failed miserably. While being on stage as a compere, other than introducing the guests, his comedy routines were limited to making fun of women wearing a lot of makeup and people from defence which after some time became boring and corny. If anyone saw his recent show on ARY, Umer Sharif Vs Umer Sharif, I’d say that pretty much spelled the end of his career.

  6. Sobaan says:
    March 6th, 2007 8:09 pm

    Umer Sharif is good but I think there are some really funny characters in Punjabi stage dramas. These include Mastana, Amanullah, Tariq Teddi and others. Although Punjabi Stage is not well recognized and acknowledged in the bigger picture probably because of the vulgar language that is used these days on stage. But I guess there is a huge huge audience in many cities in Punjab who come and enjoy their jokes.

  7. Adnan Ahmad says:
    March 6th, 2007 9:50 pm

    I stopped watching him about ten years ago. I think he just lost his touch after moving on to the movies….that spontaneous unscripted line from him just wasn’t there anymore.. I think it was because he lost touch with the street itself that made him popular. A couple of times it was sad to see him show up on stage completely wasted. All what you wrote about him is true up until bakra qistoan purr. Also, very people know that he “was” a terrific on stage singer. At times he even surpassed the original singers of the songs he sang.

    Stage shows from lahore are without a doubt funny.. but they cannot be watched with the family. In fact there is hardly any woman in their physical audience. That said, I don’t think I know a better jugat baaz than Amanullah.

  8. Adnan Ahmad says:
    March 6th, 2007 9:59 pm

    Adil, Now that I have recognized you from a previous post (I think we talked about SAF games of 89 at some point), I remember umer sharif showing up in one of your talk shows you did from islamabad. I rememeber that show because I think he was really funny [for that time an may be for that age of mine] that night. I used to wonder what happened to that host after you dissapeared.. :) I think your place was taken over by naeem bukhari.. ;)

  9. Murtaza says:
    March 6th, 2007 10:41 pm

    Umer Sharif – not only known in Pakistan but across the Globe, has earned a lot of fame for his comedy shows, personally Umer Sharif has done a trumendous work over the years but unfortunately he has at times stepped out of the decency grove for his comedy stage shows which are not at all suitable for family entertainment, I wonder how can people go to the stage shows with their wives and kids.That’s the only black spot which has lost some of the Umer sharif audience otherwise he’s the best at the art of comedy.On the other hand comparing is not his virtue and he can never call himself as an accomplished comparer.

  10. Eidee Man says:
    March 6th, 2007 11:56 pm

    Very interesting, unrelated story in Dawn today(night):

    ‘Dawn advertisement ban challenged’

    http://www.dawn.com/2007/03/07/top3.htm

    Good to see my favorite paper sticking to its guns…lets see what our courts do about this.

  11. March 7th, 2007 12:06 am

    [quote comment="36856"]but unfortunately he has at times stepped out of the decency grove for his comedy stage shows which are not at all suitable for family entertainment, I wonder how can people go to the stage shows with their wives and kids.[/quote]

    I second that.

    He at times gets too vulgar for family entertainment.
    but when he is not that, he is simply awesome.
    check this clip and u’ll know what i mean:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ws_cF_9Gwmc

  12. jyoti says:
    March 7th, 2007 4:40 am

    can you believe that our local cablewala stills shows Bakra QistoN Pe sometimes.. it was an instant hit in India and I still have an old (and broken) video cassette of Bakra… My family and I still talk about Mirza and Professor Nizami’s dialogues and have some good laugh:)

  13. March 7th, 2007 11:22 am

    saw umer sharif live at the Kara Film Festival inaugural event at the mohatta palace museum; this guy was just too funny to be handled by anyone; the funniest stage show i have seen on one of the cable channels was the one in which he enacts a PIA flight; people being fed water from a baltee, people being given an azarband to tie themselves to the seats than actual seatbelts etc; the whole thing was hilarious; he is at his funniest when he stays away from vulgarity; he is a natural

  14. TURAB says:
    March 7th, 2007 11:32 am

    Bilal i totally agree with you… being brought up in PIB colony and studied in City school, i know both the extremes and umer sharif has a larger appeal in the middle class group due to close to reality jokes and issues raised by Umer Sharif. He always tends to insert a patriotic unifying message for pakistan as well. He WAS, IS and WILL be the most funny person in the theatrical stage..

    true enough i can’t watch with ma family but i rofl when watchin alone or with cuzns… heheheh

  15. Farrukh says:
    March 7th, 2007 12:02 pm

    I dont think his material was ‘family unfriendly’ at least not in the early days. There was a lot on stage that was and partly that made him more popular because although he was edgy his material was not vulgar. The clip you have here is a good example.

  16. Indscribe says:
    March 7th, 2007 3:39 pm

    During my childhood years, I found that Umar Sharif was the most popular Pakistani in India after Imran Khan. Imran had so much appeal that people couldn’t hate him even though they wanted to hate him. Javed was hated. I too grew up on that Sharjah Six and was so angry with him in my childhood.
    Khair.
    Though I didn’t like Umar Sharif’s style of comedy much, most of my friends were great fans of Umar Sharif. They would mimic him and watch his casettes. In those good old days, I didn’t have any VCR and so missed it. He surely connected well with the audience. Great work, Adil Bhai, for the post on Umar Sharif.

  17. Imran says:
    March 7th, 2007 9:49 pm

    But what ever he is either good or bad he has changed our culture all together…

    The stage shows rather comedy stage shows might have changed from “bakra kiston peâ€

  18. rais says:
    March 7th, 2007 11:55 pm

    his old stuff back than 50/50 era was very funny so much in touch with common people and close eye on social problems , always come up with strong message.i must agree with others when he stays away from vulgarity he is definately funniest

  19. Haathi says:
    March 8th, 2007 1:55 am

    I don’t know if many people are familiar with the audio tapes that initially made Umer Sharif popular, but it used to be an annual tradition around eid…Umer Sharif show ’81, ’82, …, ’89 (I think!) util the videos of his stage shows became really big, and the audios ended. Some of the audio jokes were then carriied over to the stage shows, but those audios were priceless :) Examples? Here you go: (1) Film producer’s response to the suggestion of casting Babra Sharif with Alam Channa: Alam Channa aur Babra Sharif mailay mein jaa rahay hon ge to lagay ga ke baap beti ko ghubaara dilanay le ke jaa raha hai, oye Babra Sharif jitnay to mozay pehanta hai woh! (2) Shehenshah Jehangir touring modern day (i.e., in 1984 or roundabout) Karachi: Darbari! Fasal kat gai?? Aalijah, fasal to nahi lekin aaj Bohri bazaar mein hamaari jaib kat gai! (3) a poetic-urdu description of diarrhea: ghudoodaan-e-meda mein haalaat-e-khaana jangi!

    Oh and that hilarious Sindhi accent that used to be an Umer Sharif trademark! Well folks, excuse me while I go wipe this stupid grin off my face.

  20. March 8th, 2007 11:35 am

    Haathi: ghudoodaan-e-meda mein haalaat-e-khaana jangi! is still used in my family conversations!!!

  21. Faizan says:
    April 1st, 2007 11:20 am

    Well whats about the new teen ager comedian Hunain Ghanchi
    http://www.comedyonline.info ??

  22. April 15th, 2007 4:46 am

    AS SALAAM TO ALL
    I CAN SPEAK URDU AND ENGLISH BEEING AN ARAB I I DO UNDERSTAND BOTH THE LANGUAGES
    WELL U C CHARLIE CHAPLIN OR MR BEAN (ATKINSIN)THEY ARE COMEDIANS
    BUT IF U COMPARE MR UMAR
    HE IS THE BEST THOUGH HIS JOKES ARE NOT IN WESTERN LANGUAGES BUT BIT BY BIT WORD BY WORD SECOND BY SECOND HE MAKES US LAUGH
    AND TO C THE FACT IF U WATCH HIS SHOWS AGAIN AND AGAIN U WONT FEEL TIRED OR BORED BUT IT WILL MAKE U LAUGH AND LAUGH UNTIL UR LAST BREATH

    IF HE WAS IN BOLLYWOOD
    HE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE UNDISPUTED KING OF COMEDIANS LEAVING BEHIND JONY LEVER OR THE LEGENDARY MEHMOOD

  23. FAROOQ says:
    April 19th, 2007 11:29 pm

    WELL, FOR ME, UMAR SHARIF AND MOEEN AKHTAR , THEY ARE EQUAL.. BY NATURE, MOEEN AKTHAR IS APPEALING. HE IS GREAT, AND UMAR SHARIF IS KING. ITS JUST VARIETY THAT PAKISTAN GOT. WE CAN SEE THIS HAPPENING WORLD THAT SOME COUNTRIES GOT A BIG VARIETY OF STARS OF SAME LEVEL, THESE TOW GUYS ARE EQUAL. BUT BY FAME, PROBABLY UMAR’S GRAPH IS HIGHER THEN MOEEN AKHTAR.

  24. asif says:
    May 17th, 2007 11:08 am

    salam uncle
    Any question for this one web this name asid ok by

  25. Sarmad Khubaib BIN Haji Sarajun Hoda says:
    July 25th, 2007 9:19 am

    UMAR SHARIF IS THE BEST COMEDIAN EVER.

  26. DR.R.C.GUPTA says:
    September 19th, 2007 1:05 am

    Dear sir, i had seen a play of umar sharif quite long back, I for get the title of that play .In this play umar & sidaqui(tilly) are brother, sidaqui acts as painter,whose so ever he make the painting ,that person go to death.in this play they ask a cloth merchant to gift 100 yards cloth on which they plan to write-javed miyadad hame tum par naaz hai.
    please tell me title of that comedy play.
    REGARDS -DR. RAMESH CHAND GUPTA

  27. saalim hussain says:
    November 18th, 2007 7:15 am

    i beleive , umar sharif sahab is a fantastic comedian but since couple of years i guess he is loosing is image because his comedy is not up to the level which it was used to be some years ago.i guess , he should leave his former ways and ideas of comedy and discover some new ideas in order to get his position back which i guess , is already lost.

  28. soni says:
    November 20th, 2007 5:57 pm

    hi can someone please send umer sharif stage show meri bhi tu eid karade 100% working links please post them soon waiting for the links

  29. Owais Mughal says:
    February 2nd, 2008 11:00 am

    Umar Sharif on a situation created by ‘jahez’. Watch here :)

  30. DR ajai sharma says:
    March 14th, 2008 9:08 am

    umar sharif is the greatest comadian ever.i fully agree with this.
    i would request him to keep it up

    ajai

  31. daiyan ahmed says:
    March 25th, 2008 7:36 am

    hi

    umar sheriff is a great comedian i have ever seen ,,,he is superb and marvelous when he enter the stage…….i am in chennai i want the shop where i can get the cd’s of this legendery man…..pls tell the place where i can get or otherwise tell me website where i can get online…….

  32. Ramesh Chandra says:
    April 17th, 2008 7:02 am

    Dear Sir,

    Umar Sharif is a great comedian. I don’t think there is any body who can compete him. I have been watching Umar Sharif’s play for the last 15 years.

    His one play called ‘Meri Jaan Thanedar’ is an ultimate play. Please tell me from where I can buy original CD/DVD of this play.

    Thanking you,

    Ramesh Chandra

  33. Gohar Ali says:
    May 10th, 2008 6:03 pm

    Dear Sir, and Viwers

    Really Umer Sharif is the grates and fantastic comedian, naver seen like Umer Sharif.

    Gohar Ali from Pakistan.

  34. May 18th, 2008 7:45 pm

    muje Umer bhai bohat achey lagtey hain meri zindagi ki aik khawaish hai k main in se milon aur agar Allah ne chaha tu main zaror milon ga .

  35. JUNAID AHMED says:
    May 25th, 2008 6:21 am

    Assalam-o-Alaikum !!

    main Thailand main rehta hoon or yahi ka National hoon i really like Umer shariff stage play .. main un key sarey shows CD per rent ker key dekhta hoon balkey kabhi kabhi ek ek show ko 4 baar dekhta hoon .. main umer bhai ka bohut bara fan hoon really umer bhai ki timming of jokes marvellious hain ..

    Junaid Ahmed

    Bangkok Thailand .

  36. jil sander says:
    July 7th, 2008 10:37 am

    JUNAID AHMED Sahib. Ye to bahut mush kill show howtay hain. Kia aap kow sirf 4 dafa dekhney say samajh aa jatey hain? Main to kamm az kamm sau do sau dafa dekhoon tab samajh aati hay inn key.

  37. Sartaj Khan says:
    July 12th, 2008 4:23 am

    Hi ,This is Sartaj Khan from India,working as a Asst. Prof in engg college. Maine umar bhai ki sabhi play ki CD/DVD dekhi hai, mushkil se ek yaa do hi nahi dekhi hai,meri deli tamnna hai ke mai ek baar umar bhai se milna chahta hoo,
    allah unhe lambi umar de

  38. sarfraz DON says:
    August 11th, 2008 9:03 am

    Hi Bhai Jaan aap kaise comedy karte hain mujhe bhi email karke bataona main bhi aapke tarah comedion banna chahta hoon kya aap mere ko comedian sikhaoge agar sikhaoge to mujhe email karne ki koshish kijiyega your lucky fan MD SARFRAZ Alam from bihar Araria Computer

  39. December 17th, 2008 12:19 am

    Respected Sir
    Your are the god of comedy .In India there is not even a single person who dont know abt you even though you are a Pakistani actor.People loves you here in INDIA

  40. Abdul Mujeeb says:
    December 28th, 2008 10:29 am

    Umer Shareef bhai’s comedies are just hillarious …i remember one such play where in me and my friends were rolling on floor laughing at a scene that can be identified as “AADAAAB” ….. wherein a dwarf says AADAAB so many times….. ohh my god … i hope we are bestowed with another artist of the talent of ageing Mr.Umer Sharif

  41. Peeyush Verma says:
    February 9th, 2009 5:12 pm

    Dear Sir

    You are a Great Comedain in the World.
    &
    The great showman in the World

    UMAR SHAIF
    ——————–

    PEEYUSH VERMA
    BIJNOR (UTTAR PRADESH)
    INDIA

  42. May 11th, 2009 4:53 pm

    i love and like this ste, bravo web master good luck, please i need contact address of mr .umer sharif, kindly help
    warm regards
    naseem khan karachi/pakistan
    addpk7@hotmail.com

  43. Raza says:
    July 5th, 2009 4:16 pm

    Hi haathi,

    I am looking for the audio of umer sharif show 84 ( tarzan). do u know from where i can get that. agaer aapke paas hai to kya aap uska audio mujhe bhej sakte hain

    Raza

  44. vikram singh says:
    July 18th, 2009 4:48 am

    hi
    you are a good player in Comedain line as like king off stage Comedain

    UMAR SHAIF

    vikram singh
    from — delhi

  45. Sanjay Parashar says:
    November 10th, 2009 5:03 am

    i like ur spontenity of comedy…
    and ur timming of comedy is also really awsome…..
    i m ur biggest fan……..and ment u as my mentor…..
    i always call u a legend of comedy….

    From:Sanjay Parashar

  46. ZEESHAN says:
    February 20th, 2010 3:18 pm

    Love U Umer Bhai
    We have never seen the comedian like U
    Yor are the Kings of all comedians in the world
    PAKISTAN ZINDBAD

  47. May 12th, 2010 9:55 am

    Watch All Umer Sharif Videos, On Link Attached in Name!

  48. sufiyan says:
    May 28th, 2010 1:07 pm

    i m a big fan of ume sharif i hav c every drama he gives a right way of life to people …………….

  49. July 19th, 2010 10:59 pm

    Your blog is different from most people, you are good. Glad to share this article with you. Hope you can do better in the future.By
    the way ,Supra Dixonis good.by Supra .

  50. August 8th, 2010 2:55 pm

    Umer Sharif Is King Of Comedy, and Pride of Pakistan!

  51. December 7th, 2010 2:29 am

    I really like play of umar sharf can u send me the link of his website

  52. tanroop dhillon says:
    October 3rd, 2011 10:26 pm

    Sir,
    I am a student and a big fan of yours. Ive been trying to contact you but coudn’t figure out your address. Actually i wanted to give you my humble request of please visiting our college and perform lively at our annual cultural fest. So it would be my humble request if you mail me your contact information so that i can update you in detail.
    Thank you.

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