Hollywood Harv & His Road To Laughter
Q. Where did “Hollywood Harv” come from? What’s the story behind it?
A. The moniker was bestowed upon me by classmates at broadcast school.
Q. When did you realize that this is something you would like to do? Was like to yourself “yeah I can do that” ?
A. Well, I’ve been entertaining in different forms from a very young age. And stand up was just a natural progression from all the different things and experiences I have had over the years.
Q. Is this something that came naturally to you? Were you always the class clown/prankster growing up?
A. Without a doubt.
Q. Was it easy for you to tell your parents about your plans for wanting to be a comedian? Because, being from an Indian household we know that telling your parents of your dreams is not the easiest when they also have dreams of their own for you. For example: Doctor, Lawyer etc.
A. No it wasn’t really because I didn’t run away from home at sixteen with a backpack on my shoulder and hitchhike to L.A. I studied broadcasting and worked on radio and television and developed my craft before grabbing the microphone to do my own stage show. And once a few ‘aunties and uncles’ started saying their son is very good they became very supportive.
Q. What makes Hollywood Harv different from other comedians?
A. Your question contains the answer. Hollywood Harv is Hollywood Harv and no one else is. But obviously in the Punjabi market, whether it be on albums or hosting gigs, or weddings, the thing that originally set me apart was the ability to seamlessly switch between Punjabi and English. Too often we see Punjabi TV hosts with poor English or even western born self-proclaimed Punjabi “singers” with poor Punjabi.
Q. What do you love most about what you do? What about it makes you want to wake up every morning and do what you do? What motivates you?
A. The thing that satisfies my inner self more than anything is the feeling of being on that stage all by my self. It is intimidating for many to stand alone in front of thousands of people and speak into a mic but I revel in it. I love the feeling of making people laugh. I feel as if the laughs of others are adding years to my life.
Q. How long does it usually take you to prepare for a show? From the very beginning right to the very end? From the very first joke on paper to the very last joke on stage? How long does it take for you to plan the event, bookings etc? Just everything as a whole?
A. Well it depends on the show, but when it is one of the big shows I put on myself such as the one you see on my DVD it is a culmination of months of preparation. Most jokes before they come out of my mouth have been bouncing around and developing in my head or my notebook for months and sometimes over a year. But then there are some that just come out on the spot as a reaction to something.
Q. What helps you stay focused and prepared for a show? – Some performers have little things that they do before going on stage like saying a prayer with their team, jumping up and down, or a cheer to help them get pumped up and excited before they go perform. Is there anything you do right before a show starts to help you get pumped up and excited?
A. Oh I have a whole routine of pregame rituals I do for the hour before I hit that stage and I prepare hard. I am extremely focused and pride myself on that.
Q. Being of different race, was it hard for you to prove yourself to others?
A. It always is, but race didn’t play a huge factor. I do get some sincere and some ignorant questions from people about whether the show will be in English or Punjabi. Someone one asked me if I would be telling jokes in “hindu”. That person received a quick slap to the face and that was that. But the only time that really has been an issue is when mainstream media overlooks your show and doesn’t give you the same coverage as they would to another show because they look at the poster and assume it will be an ethnic show.
Q. I’m sure the road to getting where you are today hasn’t been easy, during those times did you have a group of positive people helping you through?
A. Yes, definitely. I have been fortunate and blessed enough that I have a great group of friends, family, and fans that come and support every show or endeavour that I do. And over the years, we have become like a network which has really helped me along the way.
Q. Did you ever feel like giving up?
A. Never. At anything.
Q. Best advice you can give to someone who’s also thinking about or trying to become a comedian as yourself?
A. Go for the gusto and give it your all. But keep in mind that less than 1% ever make any money and even less than that are able to quit their day job. So keep your dreams realistic.
Q. Where would you like to see yourself in the next 5-10yrs? – Any Goals?
A. I would like to see myself alone under a spotlight at the Staples Center surrounded by my peeps! I share my views and pieces of myself on the stage and I’d like to continue doing that all over the globe. Actually, even though I’ve done a lot of things in the Bhangra industry in the UK I’ve never done a full standup show there. So if any promoters are reading this, line it up brother and book the tour. London, Birmingham, Leicester, Coventry. I love my peeps in the UK and would prepare the ‘pataka’ for them. And although I’ve been fortunate enough to have a very diverse audience, it’s kind of a dream of mine to one day do a strictly Punjabi show. There are some jokes that just have that special ‘oomph’ in Punjabi and I’d love to just speak Punjabi for an entire show one day. That would be fun as hell.
Q. What has been the biggest highlight for you so far as a comedian?
A. The biggest highlight is always the smiles looking back at me and no one smile is better than the other. I love them all.
Q. Lastly, what’s your favorite joke or would you like to share one? :).
A. Well, I’m a storyteller and my stories or jokes are usually based on real events or life experiences. My shows are written by surrounding myself with clowns in my personal life. My good friend Tony from punjab2000 being one of them. I will do one better than sharing a joke by sharing my entire one hour DVD special and here is the youtube link. See it for yourselves and thank you so much for your time. Punjab2000 has always been very good to me and I enjoy reading their forums. Maybe one of these days I can start a p2k video blog and share my thoughts on the Bhangra world.