Asim Chaudhry: Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Professional Comedian

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Be proud of your wins and celebrate your wins, but also be sensitive to others around you when you share your wins and be humble.

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Asim Chaudhry.

Asim Chaudhry can currently be seen as ‘Abel’ in the highly popular Netflix series The Sandman and will also star as ‘Mo’ in What’s Love Got To Do With It, directed by Shekhar Kapur. Asim has just wrapped on a lead role in Norwegian comedy-drama film Listen Up! which is based on a bestselling young-adult novel by Gulraiz Sharif. He can be seen alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in new biopic The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, as well as playing ‘Dev’ alongside Stephen Merchant in the 2018 Christmas crowd-pleaser Click and Collect (BBC/Netflix). Asim also starred in Wonder Woman 1984 directed by Patty Jenkins, Michael Winterbottom’s film Greed and can be seen in Bandersnatch with Fionn Whitehead for Netflix. Asim is an award-winning actor and writer known for co-creating BAFTA winning People Just Do Nothing (series 1–5) for BBC 3/2. He won the RTS award for Best Comedy Male Performance and was nominated for two BAFTA’s in the same category. Asim is also celebrated for his hilarious performance of ‘Terry Patel’ in Hoff the Record (UKTV), which won an international EMMY. People Just Do Nothing itself has been hugely successful, receiving nominations for Best TV Situation Comedy at the Writer’s Guild Awards, Best Scripted Comedy at the 2016 BAFTAs, Best Television Series at the 2017 NME Award, and won two gongs at the Royal Television Society Awards 2017 in the Scripted Comedy category and the Best Scripted Comedy BAFTA in 2017. Kurupt FM also won a GQ Man of the Year award for Garage Act Of The Year 2017. In 2019, Kurupt FM announced their return with a brand new podcast with Audible, The Kurupt FM Podkast, which is now on its second series and won twice for Best Comedy Podcast at the British Podcast Awards 2020 and 2021. Along with the other boys, Asim can also be seen in the People Just Do Nothing film which was released last year to rave reviews. Their second studio album was also released alongside the film via Universal subsidiary Polydor Records. Asim is thrilled to star as best friend ‘Ed’ in new romcom The Honeymoon directed by Dean Craig.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in a place called Hounslow which is in West London. It’s a big immigrant town next to Heathrow Airport. A lot of Indians and Pakistanis work at Heathrow so I’m guessing around 70 percent of the people I went to school with all work there right now. When I go to the airport it’s like a school reunion — it’s amazing!

I had a very working class upbringing. My Dad was an amazing character in Hounslow — kind of like a Tony Soprano without the serious crime stuff.

I did a lot of music; I made beats, I used to be a battle rapper and then I ended up doing media studies, film and broadcast, brought a camera, finished university and started making some city sketches with my friends. And then something happened: one of the shows we made ended up getting commissioned on BBC and then 5 seasons and a movie later here I am doing acting, writing and directing.

A lot of accidents to get to where I am! Before acting, I was almost always doing technical work. Always behind the camera, writing, editing and filming. I wasn’t always aware of my performance abilities.

This all makes me think — in life, the best things always happen on accident.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path as a comedian?

I started doing this YouTube thing with my friends called “People just do Nothing” and that’s what I’m known for most in the UK. It’s a TV comedy mockumentary made by the producers who made The Office so it’s similarly dry and self-deprecating.

My character is called Chabuddy G and he’s kind of based on my Dad, my uncles, and my friends who I grew up with (these guys were some dodgy characters that think they are “ladies’ men” and hustlers). Chabuddy G is a prankster but I also instilled my dad’s entrepreneurialism and optimism into Chabuddy G. I would actually call up places as Chabuddy G with an accent and be so ridiculous so then we thought, okay, let’s just see what he’s like in the show, and so we filmed it and it was an amazing response even on YouTube at that time and he became such a big character that the rest is comedic history.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I would say one of the most surreal things that still is a bit weird to me is when I was approached by Richard Curtis after he saw my sketch comedy show with Ed Sheeran for comic relief which was very popular and raised a lot of money. Richard saw it and said to me “look, I’m writing this sketch for British Airways’s safety video and I would love for you to work with me on that and play the director” so I said okay let’s do it. We wrote these scripts together and then my character became the face of the BA safety video for at least five years. That was incredible because we were working with Olivia Colman, Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) and Gordon Ramsay — all of these legends and who were all very, very funny. That was surreal because I didn’t really fathom how many people would see it. I always get recognized for that video so I think it was a really fun thing to do and it was also great because it made people pay attention to safety videos. That was for charity so we raised something like an astonishing 30 million pounds.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started acting I remember I’d be waiting around for ages and then would make the mistake about really getting worked up about the waiting. I would think that it’s already been hours that I’ve been waiting on set and that logistically this was wrong — for me to wait — and get frustrated about it.

I then realized I was wasting so much energy with my impatience and have figured out that most of acting is waiting. I’ve since made peace with that and nowadays when I’m on set and am not going to be performing the entire day I make myself useful and productive and bring my laptop and do my emails so when I’m called up — I’m ready and I’ve been patient.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

This is going to sound a bit bizarre but I think everyone needs a hater. A chip on the shoulder if you will, so we can constantly try to prove our haters wrong with our successes.

My Drama teacher was a real kind of villain in my life. She put me down and never really gave me a chance and didn’t like me from the beginning. She removed me from class once for something my friend had done. That’s why I didn’t do anything with acting for four years and I kind of rediscovered it later on.

I think with haters, they push you to work extra hard to prove them wrong and I think that has helped me get to where I am today.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

For others who want to embark on this career path of being a public person, start learning about how to do taxes and get your finances in order. Mo Money Mo Problems. I didn’t grow up with money so when I started making moneyI didn’t know how to deal with it.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

The Honeymoon for sure. It’s a beautifully shot project that’s been a long-time in the works.

What’s Love Got to Do With It which is a rom-com working title about arranged marriage which is very funny.

From here on, my next thing is I’m going to be working on my horror film for most of next year.

What do you do to get material to write your jokes? What is that creative process like?

A lot of it is improv. And Dean (Craig) was very accepting of a lot of that improv on set and it felt really free. There was a lot of trust in each other and good people involved so I think the creative process really starts with trusting each other.

Super. Here is our main question. What are your “Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Professional Comedian” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Don’t get annoyed about waiting because that’s supposed to be part of the process.
  2. Be proud of your wins and celebrate your wins, but also be sensitive to others around you when you share your wins and be humble.
  3. Get a good accountant so the tax man doesn’t come for and scare you.
  4. Enjoy it and enjoy the ride. Don’t take anything for granted and enjoy these moments.
  5. Don’t overthink stuff.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Focus on your own stuff and don’t worry about what other people are doing.

I think in my life I tend to believe that if something happens to others and it’s good for them, then it’s good for them, and great for us to focus on our own stuff. That good energy comes right back.

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

It would be some kind of movement based on empathy, which is something I think we as a society lack. I think we don’t care about each other enough and the mentality we have is capitalistic and individualistic. I think what needs to change is that we need to look out for each other more than just ourselves, but also our culture and community.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I would probably say Notorious B.I.G Biggie Smalls. He’s my favorite rapper ever. I grew up watching him and his confidence, talent and ability is inspiring. I’ve always related to him in the sense that he was always very undeniably himself.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram: @AsimC

Tiktok: @AsimC

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Asim Chaudhry: Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Professional Comedian was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.