Ali All Over : Catching Up with Stand-Up Comedian Ali Hassan

Ali Hassan Family From Zero to Hero. Photo Projected Life Photography. Ali Hassan Family From Zero to Hero. Photo Projected Life Photography.

Article Alastair Mackay

Ali Hassan is all over the place. New dad, seasoned chef, television panelist, radio host, radio debater, world traveler, and, the reason we’re all here today: Hilarious Comic.  But since he’s popped up in settings like Just for Laughs, CBC’s “George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight”, and the 2011 flick Goon, to name a few, you probably already knew that. Pretty good for a guy who made his entrance into the world of standup via the pursuit of producing his own cooking show.

Ali Hassan is currently all over the prairies. He’ll be back in his hometown (that’s here!) soon, and it’s L.A. at the end of the month. But he was in Winnipeg, to face off with Graham Chittenden on the subject of billionaires for CBC’s The Debaters at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, when I caught up with him in anticipation of his show at Montreal’s The Comedy Nest this coming weekend. He was on his way to his hotel, with all the background wind and sirens befitting a conversation with someone in Winnipeg. In his act and in conversation, Hassan is a real, really funny, good guy.

Ali Hassan

Ali Hassan. Photo Karen Benedict.

“Well, the last three years of my life have been the comedy of the bewildered father,” Hassan began as I asked him how he’d describe himself as a comic. On top of everything else, Hassan has taken on the role of father to three in as many years, the subject of his recent show “From Zero to Hero.” His initial impressions of fatherhood? Laughing as he considered the question, he replied with frank, smiling confidence, “Well, I can do it.” Hassan also paid major props to the role his toughest critic, his wife, plays in sharpening his wits.

“Comedy is bigger than you.” What, in all of Hassan’s experience as a comic so far has, if anything, stood out as a career highlight? He didn’t have to think about it. In 2008, Hassan performed at the Amman Stand-Up Festival in Jordan, the first comedy festival to ever take place in the Middle East. Hassan and his fellow comics were greeted by high-ranking officials, and thanked personally and profusely for bringing comedy to a region that was in such “desperate need of joy.”

I’m sentimental, even romantic (in the Art History way), about comedy, and asked Hassan what he thought about the link between comedy and kindness. “(Comedy) is about helping people,” he said, considering the human need for it. Citing SNL’s Hannibal Burress, he also went on to observe that besides writing a lot and performing a lot, not being an asshole is really the only other thing you can do to get anywhere as a comic.

Ali Hassan is a comedian dad cook guy born in the Maritimes, raised in Montreal, and whose cred and credentials have been duly noted. Not many people can relate to all of that, but we can all find something to relate to, and laugh about, with Ali Hassan.

Catch Ali while he’s all over the place in Montreal at the Comedy Nest (2313 St. Catherine W.) with special guest Mike Paterson, April 17-19. Tickets from 6-15$.  Call to reserve: (514) 932-6378