There are a lot of funny people in the Twin Cities. But Ali Sultan is the funniest.
The 24-year-old comedian won the 2013 Acme Comedy Co.'s Funniest Person in the Twin Cities contest this past Tuesday night, beating out nearly 400 other wannabe funny people who signed up for the annual amateur throwdown (129 of those who signed up no-showed for their actual stage time). This is Ali's second big win of the year, having already won the Funniest Person with a Day Job contest at Rick Bronson's House of Comedy back in May.
With $1,000 dollars in his pocket and a fairly impressive credit to his name, the Yemen native and newly minted comic talked with City Pages immediately following his big win.
Congrats on the contest. How long have you been doing comedy for?
About two years. I actually did comedy for the first time here at Acme during open mic night, and it went really well. I bombed my second time out, but had I not succeeded the first time I never would have kept going.
How did you initially get into standup comedy?
When I first moved here nine years ago from Yemen, I didn't speak any English. Then one night I saw someone do standup on Conan O'Brien's show and I was so fascinated with it. I decided that was something I wanted to do.
Was it tough coming from Yemen and doing comedy in America?
I didn't speak English when I came here, so it was just something I fantasized about. Comedy isn't big where I'm from, so I had no idea this was such a big deal until I moved here. I had seen comedy on the internet, but never thought of it as something I could do. When you're from where I'm from, you see some rough places. That's why comedy is something I loved, because it was all about not taking life too seriously.
Now that you're $1,000 richer, what's your plan for your cash?
I'm going to pay my mom's bills, and then I'm going to New York for the Arab Comedy Festival.
Your comedy tonight had a little bit of a racial twist, but it wasn't all Arab comedy. Is that on purpose?
I try to write in the middle. Honestly, I try and write jokes for white folks. Seriously trough, my mom told me that if I wanted to be successful I needed to write down the middle so that's what I do.