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Sunee Dhaliwal: From comedic dreams and laughable origins

By Johnny Papan

VANCOUVER — “I had three dreams: be in the NBA, a professional gangster rapper, or an actor-comedian. The first two didn’t work out because it turns out you have to be really good at those things.” Abbotsford-raised stand-up comic Sunee Dhaliwal has been busting hilarity through packed comedy clubs for over nine years; being seen at the Just for Laughs festival, on his own Comedy Now television special, and even opening shows for some of the world’s most notorious funny people.

“I was in sixth grade when I saw my cousin watching Chris Rock’s Bring the Pain,” Dhaliwal explains in regards to discovering his comedic potential. “I heard a joke that I didn’t really understand. It involved a lot of bad words and I recited it at school. I got suspended, but I still remember all my friends laughing.”

In 2007, Dhaliwal was unexpectedly lunged into his first stand-up show ever at Yuk Yuk’s in Vancouver. “I was working at Staples, not to brag,” he chimes. “My manager posed as me and e-mailed Yuk Yuk’s.” In preparation, Dhaliwal checked out an amateur night, and began looking into his life for comedic material. He retold these stories to friends and family, narrowing his most rib-bruising chucklers into a solid five minute set. Despite being generally comfortable cracking jokes in front of people, Dhaliwal assures his first time on stage was nerve wracking. “It was an out of body experience.” Not long after, he would find himself billed on hot shows, opening for the likes of Jo Koy, Charlie Murphy, and Sugar Sammy, to name a few.

Not all performances over his career would be shining, however. Dhaliwal recalls a time performing at a club with a giant window that looked onto the street. An ambulance pulled over by the glass just as he had gotten onstage, drowning him in red flashes throughout his entire set. He also deals with his share of hecklers, but does not shy away from firing cannons in retaliation. “Anyone that heckles, I make fun of relentlessly.”

When asked what advice he has for up-and-coming comedians, the 6’5 Indo-Canadian comic says “Have fun. It can be a hard job to maintain, but there’s nothing like it.” He continues, “I get paid to talk about what’s happened in my life. A room full of strangers I’ve never met will get dressed up and pay money to listen to what I have to say. My friends and family still don’t understand it. I can’t explain it.”

On the side, Dhaliwal also works as an actor. “I love acting, people treat you better than in stand-up.” Recently, he starred in his own comedic YouTube skit about going to the gym, exercising alongside two real-life professional trainers.

The well-versed funnyman shows no signs of slowing down. With a handful of gigs already booked for the New Year, Sunee Dhaliwal concludes his interview with the best part of being a successful comedian: “I haven’t needed a regular job in six years.” He then gently knocks on a wooden desk, just in case.

Don’t miss Sunee Dhaliwal perform January 6th-7th at Hecklers in Victoria, January 12th at Vancouver Yuk Yuk’s, January 26th-28th at Abbottsford Yuk Yuk’s, or February 17th & 18th at Calgary Yuk Yuk’s.

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