MONTHLY stand-up comedy night Brown Sauce is a spicy mix of tasty new talent, established names and raising money for good causes.
The laughter-filled shows in central London, founded, hosted and curated by Sharlin Jahan, regularly light up the Bill Murray comedy club in Angel. The Bangladeshi, Canadian comedian based in London has been a driving force of an event, which entertains audiences but also gives a platform to new talent and supports diverse charities. Known for her unfiltered humour, she uses laughter to make a positive impact in the community and receives wide support from the stand-up fraternity. Her next Brown Sauce event on November 7 will be headlined by acclaimed comedian Sunil Patel.
Eastern Eye caught up with the fearless funny woman to find out more.
What inspired you to found the Brown Sauce monthly comedy night?
The idea for Brown Sauce came to me when I realised I had barely gigged with any south Asian acts. For a normal comedy night, we tend to fit into a quota, so, there might be only one spot for a minority woman at a comedy night. Also, the audience of those shows were often well-intentioned (sometimes not that well-intentioned) white people. So, Brown Sauce started from a somewhat selfish place.
Tell us more about that?
I wanted to meet more south Asian comedians and perform to an audience that looked like me – basically, I wanted to meet some goddamn brown people. I thought I would be able to put on maybe four shows, but after two years, I continue to be surprised by how much amazing south Asian talent is out there. And I think the audience is also surprised and happy about it.
What has been your most memorable moment with Brown Sauce?
There have been so many memorable moments with Brown Sauce. One that stands out is the night we had Nish Kumar – it was an electric night, but we discovered that another act on the same night was distantly related to him. We have a picture of them shaking hands. It was wonderful, odd and stereotypical at the same time.
Your audiences are always diverse, is there a moment that stands out with them?
One night, two audience members told me they were related as cousins and aunts but didn’t explain further. There was so much inquiry that after the break, I had an audience member who had drawn a diagram of the family tree come up on stage and explain his hypothesis. Basically, Brown Sauce is a wild night.
What has been the secret of this comedy night’s success?
The secret lies in our warm environment. Both the comedians and the audience feel loved, and fun is poked at. Also, I don’t think there is another night like ours. Since late 2021, it’s become a little bit of a movement for liberal south Asians who enjoy comedy.
What do you mean by that?
South Asian comedy spaces till date have been more catered to my parent’s generation – a bit conservative with a lot of ‘Asian mom’ or ‘Asian mother-in-law jokes’. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but there’s a real want for warmer, friendlier spaces to celebrate all our diversity. Exhibit all our jokes from LGBTQIA+ topics, sex, religion and some of our Asian ‘dad’ jokes (why do they never get as much airtime?).
How do you select the comedians to perform on the night?
We blindfold ourselves, spin around three times, and then throw darts at a giant map of comedians. Or we use our knowledge of the London comedy scene and offer spots to people who make us laugh and create a fun line-up from there. We do either, or both sometimes.
Why should we all come to the Brown Sauce comedy night?
It’s so joyful and a celebration of south Asian diaspora and all its associated craziness. Everyone is welcome. People come to the show because they want to see something different and leave because, well, I tell them to (the show’s over, folks.). So, come hang out if you need a break from hearing about the usual comedy schtick of Dave and Mary’s relationship issues and want something different like Rahul and Priya’s marital problems.
Brown Sauce at the Bill Murray Comedy Club, 39 Queen’s Head Street, London N1 8NQ on November 7. Visit Twitter & Instagram: @brownsaucehaha and @Sharlincomedy to find out more, including the line-up.