Nazeem Hussain Launches 'Stand Up For Christchurch': "If You're Laughing You Can't Be Scared"
Following the Christchurch terrorist attacks, Nazeem Hussain brought together a crew of comedians at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival to raise money for the families and Muslim communities affected.
Speaking to 10 daily via phone, Nazeem said the idea came off the back of performing in Brisbane the day of and after the attack.
"There was a sense of people who wanted to be around other people," he said, "to help out, show support and solidarity. All I know how to do is comedy, so to give a way for people to come together and direct their emotions was empowering."
Performing that night was difficult for Nazeem, who said he struggled with finding the balance between what the world was feeling and the nature of comedy. "I was half-minded about [performing]," he said adding that initially, he wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do.
"It was a good opportunity for people to hang around each other, it was a very surreal time for me but it provided a safe space for people to come together and process the shock."
Performing again the night after the attacks, Nazeem said three people came up to him afterwards in a meet and greet. "They had a fourth ticket, the fourth person couldn't make it because her father was a victim."
"People were closely connected to what was going on, they felt like being out and amongst people and I think people wanted to defy this guy's intentions," he said.
"The terrorist obviously wanted to strike fear in the hearts of Australian culture and in the public, but if you're laughing you can't be scared."
Getting a gang of comedians together wasn't difficult, the comedian said it was easy to get them on board and "a handful of hours" after the show was announced, it was sold out.
"I had to quickly buy tickets for my family, it happened so quick," Nazeem said.
The live show was performed on the 13th to a packed audience as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival where Nazeem believed they raised over $70,000 in ticket sales alone. They also raised several thousand more at the door.
"My sister and mum were chief volunteer coordinators," Nazeem said adding that his family pitched in to lend a hand to collect donations. "My mum continued well beyond the end of the show -- she came to my show and collected more donations there."
"Mum gets involved. She finds things out about my life and career, I don't need to tell her," he said. "I caught her the other night handing out flyers and posters, I didn't tell her to do that! She drove into the city to do it."
The show's line-up includes Dave Hughes, Joel Creasey, Peter Helliar, Matt Okine, Urzila Carlson, Tommy Little, Arj Barker, Steph Tisdell, Frida Deguise, Mark Watson, Cal Wilson, Jimeoin and Des Bishop -- and for those who weren't lucky enough to grab tickets before they sold out, it will be broadcast on Network 10.
Stand Up For Christchurch will be donated to the Christchurch Foundation's Our People Our City fund.