It’s All In the Timing: Farez Ozel

The last thing UCSD alumnus Faraz Ellahie — better known as comedian Feraz Ozel — wanted to be doing after he finished school was working on odd jobs. It’s not that Ozel, who graduated with a B.A. in political science magna cum laude last year, had no other options —  his mother called him every time a new law school acceptance letter came in, and the burgeoning funny-man was accepted to study at Santa Clara, UC Davis and other top-tier law schools. But Ozel decided to defer his ambitions as a lawyer and try his hand at becoming a comedian.

“They’ve been more supportive than most people from our background would be,” Ozel jokes of his Pakistani family. “I thought they were going to disown me.”

For Ozel, the decision was an easy one: He’s been the class clown since his elementary school days. As the self-described “fat kid with a great rack,” Ozel said he used comedy to avoid being the butt of everyone else’s jokes. Instead, he became the funny fat kid, experience which came in handy when he performed a comedic musical skit on stage for the first time at age 15 to a Pakistani audience of over 600 people.

“I turned the best jokes I had into a song all about Pakistani culture,” Ozel said. “It was all about how they feed you too much, how my mom turned me into a fat kid with all her curry and rice, why they always make you drink tea, how everything you say has to rhyme and a lot of inside jokes.”

A few years later at UCSD, Ozel entered a comedy competition hosted by his fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, and won a $100 gift card.

“It was another musical skit that I still use in my shows today, just amped up,” Ozel said. “It was about how my girlfriend gave me a guitar for Christmas. I still dumped her a week later, but I kept the guitar because she got to keep the herpes. It was only fair.”

Most of Ozel’s jokes are geared toward a more mature audience — his favorite is about the video game Halo and its morbid relationship to the Go Army ad campaign. Generally, his material ranges anywhere from marijuana use to taking a shit on a classroom floor.

“I have this one joke where I needed to go to the restroom one time in a lecture hall at UCSD and the teacher was like ‘Well, is it an emergency?’” Ozel said. “I was like, well, back when I was six years old and didn’t know anything I would be like ‘Yeah, this is an emergency’ but I’m older now, I know what an emergency is. 9/11 is an emergency, Hurricane Katrina was an emergency — I’m just going to shit on your floor. It’s just a code brown, maybe a code orange.”

His jokes have garnered some interesting responses from audience members — most of them inappropriate.

“And then this guy in the second row, [who had been] quiet the whole time, was like, ‘Man, I’ve done that shit,’” Ozel said. “And I was like, ‘What, you shit on the floor? You had a teacher who wouldn’t let you go to the bathroom?’ He was like, ‘I just needed to shit.’”

He isn’t all about shits and giggles — for Ozel, developing his craft is a top priority. Last year, the comic performed throughout Europe in countries like Slovenia, Austria and Romania, and was interviewed by a Hungarian magazine. Ozel hopes to follow in the footsteps of some his favorite comedians — David Chapelle, Louis CK, Greg Giraldo and Sebastian Meniscalco — and write more political jokes.

“I started picking up the science of jokes, like the analogy and misdirection,” Ozel said. “So, with misdirection, it’s when people say, ‘You’re Pakistani; does that mean you hate Jews?’ And I’d say, ‘No, what kind of ignorance is that? That means my grandfather hates Jews.’”
Since returning from Europe, Ozel has begun working with a group of local comics (which has helped land him several gigs) and booking two to three gigs a week. His connections have also been essential to the success of the Loft Out Loud series. LOL is a string of comedy shows, featuring both local and celebrity comics, that Ozel hosts once a month at the Loft.

“I bring the best comics in SD [together] — the guys who headline shows at bars and clubs,” Ozel said. “I get guys from L.A. who are normally on TV to come down and headline. LOL really is one of the best shows you’ll see in the city, better than some of the clubs. It’s definitely the best show you’ll see if you’re under 21.”

Once LOL has made a name for itself, Ozel hopes to partner with Triton Television to broadcast LOL on TTV and turn it into more of a late-night comedy show.

Eventually, Ozel hopes to be able to move beyond San Diego into the bigger comedy scenes, like in San Francisco or Los Angeles. Luckily, the start-up comic has already managed to beat some of the pre-show jitters that trip up most comedians.

“Any rituals? Yeah, I like to make sure I stretch — touch my toes, limber up, do a few push-ups.” he said, “No, I don’t fucking do any of that. I just like to look over the crowd for a second. When I first started up, I would lock myself in the bathroom and go over everything a few times in the stall. But now, I’m so comfortable that I just wait for them to call my name. I just run up there and do it.”

Ozel will be performing at the Comedy Store in La Jolla on Oct. 28 and The Loft’s next LOL show on Nov. 9.

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