From an underprivileged country to stand up comedy

Posted on 29 March 2017 by Ian Schrauth

Student Sayeed Sharieff strives to ‘change it up’ with comedy

By: Dalila Kahvedzic
Art & Life Editor

 

If St. Louis was a seven layer dip, Fenton would be the sour cream, Meramec student Sayeed Sharieff said about growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood.

“There were like, three brown families and one of them doesn’t even count because their last name is Brown,” Sharieff said as he laughed. “That’s one of my jokes.”

Sharieff is a general transfer study student at St. Louis Community College-Meramec, with hopes of working with children as an early childhood psychologist. For now, one of his hobbies includes standup comedy, which he started about a year ago at SIUE.

“I prepped for a week, spent four to five hours every night just locked in my room writing material,” Sharieff said. “The night came, I performed it and it went pretty d— well.”

Word quickly spread throughout Sharieff’s community that he was doing standup comedy, which lead him to more gigs, he said. He performed at his youth group camp and at Meramec as an opener for comedian Aman Ali in November. Sharieff opened for Jeremy McLellan at Maryville University on Sunday, March 26.

Sharieff said he jokes about things that pertain to or are significant to his life – a lot of his material is about being Indian and Muslim.s

After graduating high school, Sharieff said he was not sure he wanted to continue his schooling – and having grown up in a traditional Indian household, education was very significant.

“I tried the whole “work for a year and not go to school” thing, and I realized that’s not the life for me,” Sharieff said. “It just seemed really nine to five, stay in one place.”

After working for a while, he decided to visit India to try to clear his head.

“I went to India to do some soul searching about school and what I wanted to do with my life, and when I came back I realized school is probably what I should be doing,” Sharieff said. “I thought I had it bad here in America, like ‘Ah, I hate going to school, it’s so boring, I have to take classes that don’t even count toward my degree,’ and in my opinion I was being ungrateful to what I had.”

Visiting India was a culture shock, Sharieff said.

“It’s crazy seeing people that don’t have education and the opportunities you get with education here in a country like America,” Sharieff said. “It gave me insight that if I do have kids and a wife one day I have to make something of myself, so that’s where the whole school thing comes in and I realized I can also do school and have fun at the same time — so this is where the comedy thing comes in,” Sharieff said.

His expression of himself is standing in front of crowds and spouting whatever nonsense comes to him, Sharieff said. His favorite aspect would be when people come up to him after the show and talk to him.

“The hardest thing I would say is actually trying to be funny,” Sharieff said. “It could be the funniest joke ever, but you might not have the sense of humor for it — everyone has a different sense of humor.”

Everything you say on stage you should have a small belief in, Sharieff said. You are trying to cater to people but you are also trying to cater and stay true to yourself.

“Write about what you know but also what other people know, along with being true to yourself,” Sharieff said. “You’re trying to sell yourself to other people and get them to buy into what you’re saying but you don’t want to give them something that’s completely false — it’s a fine line.”

His current goal is to perform at Saint Louis University (SLU) within the next two years as they have the biggest Muslim Student Association in the St. Louis area.

“They like to do a lot of inner faith things, it’s obviously not specifically catered to Muslims, and a lot of my material isn’t specifically catered to Muslims or Indians but a lot of my material comes from that life,” Sharieff said.

Sharieff’s dream would be to tour the country, go to different colleges and speak to MSA groups. It is important in this time and age for Muslims to speak out, he said.

“Muslims obviously are very quiet and we just recently have been getting loud because the finger has been pointing at us, but we should have been loud 10 to 15 years ago,” Sharieff said. “I just think right now the Muslim crowd, brown crowd, the Hispanic crowd, Bosnian crowd – every immigrant crowd needs to come together, women especially.”

Sharieff said the human mind was not meant to stay in one place, and he believes that traveling does make a person healthier. To individuals who do not have the privilege to travel to an underprivileged country, he said they should try to educate themselves about other cultural values.

“Start studying a different culture — make a friend with someone who’s not from the same socioeconomic class as you,” Sharieff said. “Get out of your comfort zone, your body was made to adjust and your body and your mind were made to be in uncomfortable situations enough to make them comfortable — change it up.”

 

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