Ali Sultan’s comedy resume is pretty impressive. He’s performed and headlined on nearly every stage in town, won contests at Acme and House of Comedy, made multiple television appearances, traveled to Dubai to perform for Comedy Central Arabia, and started a funny, moving podcast with his mother.
Now, after more than six years in comedy, he’s finally putting out an album.
“Great albums have always been a part of comedy,” Sultan explains. “Every great comedian has a story about buying their first album or being given an album from someone else. Whether it’s Richard Pryor or, unfortunately, Bill Cosby, comedy albums are a respected tradition.”
His album, Happy to Be Here, was recorded this past February at Sisyphus, which is where his album release party takes place this Saturday. While the idea of putting out an album is anything but new, when the time came for him to record, Sultan decided to put his own unique touches on the process.
“I had my mother introduce me to the stage, and I also tried a brand-new joke to close, which is something nobody does on an album.”
As for his party, Sultan has hand-selected a stacked lineup of up-and-coming and established comedians, including Kjell Bjorgen, Greg Coleman, Khadijah Cooper, and Ashli Henderson. The eclectic mix of comics is fitting, as Sultan himself has been instrumental in the evolving local scene over the past several years, producing shows like Sisyphus’ People of Comedy.
“I think the comedy scene right now is a fun, positive place that’s less toxic than when I started,” he says. “I take credit for part of that. I’m one of the guys on top right now and it’s important to make a positive difference in our culture. That means changing the color dynamics and attracting like-minded people.”
Outside of his work locally, Sultan’s career has continued to grow to the point he recently quit his job to pursue comedy full-time. Still, he feels like he’s just started to find his footing. “I still feel like a newcomer outside of Minnesota,” he says. “Outside of Minnesota I don’t feel like anyone knows me. I’m like a big fish in Lake Minnetonka.”
While he has traveled out of the state (and country) to help build his name, don’t expect Sultan to skip town permanently any time soon. “Chad Daniels is really a role model for me,” he explains. Daniels, who has achieved an incredible amount of comedy success, still lives in his hometown of Fergus Falls. “He hasn’t moved to New York or L.A., and he’s having a really successful career. Granted, he’s lot more talented than I am right now. But it shows me that if you work hard and get really good, that you can take your act on the road and it’ll
For this week, however, Sultan’s sights are focused solely on his home turf and releasing his album into the world.
“This is a body of work that I’m comfortable to show everybody,” he says. “It says that I’m here and this is just the beginning.”
IF YOU GO:
Ali Sultan Album Release Party
8 p.m. Saturday, May 25
$10; click here for tickets