Altaf Sarwar

The Desi Central comedy brand has become synonymous with top stand-up talent coming together to entertain audiences all over the UK.

The current tours are in full flow and have some of the best live entertainers teaming up for diverse hilarious live shows, which have been brought together by Altaf Sarwar.

The Birmingham-based founder of Desi Central enjoyed comedy from a young age and later left a comfortable day job as a systems engineer and founded his live entertainment company. “I had an easy job that paid a decent wage, but had no job satisfaction and then one day while driving through the city centre I saw queues for an urban comedy night. This got me thinking, why is there not a show similar to this with desi comedians. Over the next two years, I slowly did my research and eventually got the support to do my first show in Birmingham,” said Altaf.

This led to him founding the Desi Central comedy brand, which has since grown to be recognised nationwide on the live circuit. This year alone Altaf will impressively be involved in around 100 comedy events, which include for public and corporate sectors. He happily assembles talent, including exciting newcomers and then promotes each event.

Not surprisingly the prolific live event producer has had many triumphs and memorable moments, which has included working with big names. “There have been many memorable moments, but some that stick out include seeing comedians backstage go from banter to collectively doing a quiet prayer before a show. I see this regularly. Other moments I am proud of are bringing comedians from different cultures together on diverse platforms.”

In that regard, Altaf teamed up with a friend to found the popular urban comedy brand COBO (Comedy Of Black Origin). This desire for unity also led him to produce The Indians Are Coming comedy tour, which was hugely successful and makes a return later this year. “My first show in Birmingham sold out in advance and it was great to see customers from all backgrounds come out to recognise the Indian acts. This tour is growing from strength to strength every year.”

He grew up watching top comedians like Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Kat Williams, Chris Tucker and his personal favourite Bernie Mac. Altaf has worked with some of the most popular comedians of south Asian origin, including big British acts and talents from overseas.

When asked about some of his favourites, he said: “I’ve worked with Romesh Ranganathan, Guz Khan, Shazia Mirza, Aatif Nawaz and Tez Ilyas who are now regularly seen on TV. Nabil Abdul Rashid never fails to deliver and regularly headlines my shows. Sukh Ojla has been part of my team for a few years and is a rapidly rising star. I would say watch this space for Eshaan Akbar. But, honestly, all the acts I work with are amazing and make this job rewarding,” he said.

Currently, he is touring the LOL (Ladies Of Laughter) With Noreen Khan tour, which has been a huge success since starting as a single show 18 months ago. The Desi Central Comedy Show is also touring across the UK with different line-ups of top stand-up talent. The Indians Are Coming: Diwali Dhamaka and COBO: Black History Month Special are also on the way in October and November from Desi Central. All will have diverse line-ups.
“I look at the structure of a show and work on the line up depending on the customers I am expecting. Some are family-friendly, but some are very raw. I try to book three or four acts with different material and a host to compliment the line-up. We all work as a team to deliver an enjoyable show.”

There has been a massive British Asian comedy boom and he has played a huge part in it. One of the reasons for this is him consistently giving a platform to new talent. “I love comedy because in this day and age we hear more negative stories than positive. Everybody needs laughter to brighten up their lives.”