IN ALL the countries that I have travelled to to perform stand-up comedy – the US being a regular destination – I have never been held up or interrogated at customs. Or I hadn’t, until I arrived in Pakistan.
I spent six hours at Lahore customs, as I did not have a visa in my British passport to enter the country. The people who organised my gig had mistakenly assumed that because my parents were born in Pakistan and I, too, am brown, they would automatically let me in.
The customs officer asked: “Are you Pakistani?” Yes. “Where were you born?” England. “That makes you a foreigner.”
He looked through my passport, which is filled with US visas. He said: “Are you a spy?” No, I’m a stand-up comedian. “What’s that?” I tell jokes. “And will you be doing that in this country?” Yes. “Oh, is this the entertainment for the Taliban?” he asked, quite seriously. No, I replied. Continue reading