Street: You’ve done standup comedy with Simply Chaos since freshman year. What’s that been like? Siraj Iqbal: I saw the flyer and thought it might be cool. I’ve just relinquished my position as president to my roommate. I mostly write material myself, but I test it out with the other members. We give each other ideas. Just imagine 12 Luna Lovegoods in one room.
Street: Have you always been funny? SI: I’m still not funny. I’m struggling.
Street: Are your sets mostly triumphs, or do you ever get crickets? SI: I’m a cricket comedian. It’s not triumphant like “Gladiator” up there. It’s “A Bug’s Life.” Sometimes you get booked at serious charity events… it’s not easy to perform after someone tells a story about their family. Those don’t really work out, to say the least.
Street: What professional comedians inspire you? SI: The usuals, like Louis C.K., Bill Burr, Kevin Hart. The classics, like Dave Chappelle and Eddie Murphy. And also Kumail Nanjiani and Hannibal Burress, I wanna give them a shoutout.
Street: What’s it been like joining Excelano this late in the game? How’d you decide to go for it? SI: Well, I’m like the only rookie with a beard. Spoken word is something I never thought I’d do. I was just like, “Let me play, let me get in, put me in, Coach!” There are definitely parallels with standup, since both try to engage an audience and you’re alone onstage. But I’m sure people are getting angry right now about me comparing them…
Street: How did you get involved in Penn Taiwanese Society and the Penn Philippine Association? SI: I’m acting in their shows. They are just filled with wonderful people. As for similarities, I don’t think Taipei and Manila are that close, I think there’s an ocean in between them?
Street: So what are you doing post–grad? SI: This is the first time anyone’s asked me that! Whoops… I guess I should’ve thought of that before this interview, like in life. But I’m actually developing an app right now—all I’ll say is that it’s gonna make restaurant–going way better.
Street: Who’s your alter ego? SI: Listen, my ego’s so big already… but a lot can be done with my name. “Sir" is like a knighted thing. And “raj” means “king” in Sanskrit I believe so Sir King? Also, there’s Ciroc the vodka and, come to think of it, Sriracha the hot sauce.
Street: What’s your guilty pleasure? SI: Sometimes I wave at people I don’t know at all, like, in a really friendly way, just to see how they react. Also, who doesn’t like being the little spoon once in a while? There, I said it.
Street: What will you miss most about Penn? SI: There was this one time I was at waiting in line FroGro and I saw a man’s card get declined as he tried to buy diapers. Without hesitation, another man came up and paid for his diapers. He left in happy tears. I’m going to miss seeing things like that. Also, the rich people. I don’t know how I’ll surround myself like this in the future!
Street: Describe yourself in under five words. SI: It wasn’t my fault.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn… SI: Those who admit they Facebook stalk and the big fat liars! Or, those who are poets and those who are poems. Wow, that was deep.