Akbar Eghbali is an Persian comedian and director who has a lot of fans in Persian speaking countries by combining comedy shows, sports movements and artistic performances. Eghbali has been working in the field of acting and comedy theater for 20 years. He has become famous for directing and acting in the comedy theater “the annoying worker” and for his films “wave and rock(2003)” , “night of doubt(2004)”, “bonsai (2017)” and “bitter chocolate(2019)”. we talked to him.
You are one of the comedians who are very successful both in social networks and in stage performances, and you have been able to find a good position among the audience. how do you manage these two?
Akbar Eghbali: Before I got into social media and cyberspace, I only had stage performances and I didn’t think about social media at all. Because my mind was completely occupied with stage performance and I did not have the opportunity for other work. But sometimes I also thought about this issue and its impact on the audience. In fact, I wanted to be able to connect more with my audience. A friend of mine named “Artin Shahvaran”, one of the famous Iranian pop music artists, suggested that I create a page on Instagram and introduce myself more. I also started working on Instagram. So I devoted a large portion of my income to making and publishing comedy videos. From my stage performances, I selected short excerpts and posted them on social media. I came to a conclusion very quickly and this made me try harder to have something to say on social media. Over time, I started to produce more content in cyberspace and fortunately it was welcomed. Since then, I have produced many humorous videos with social and cultural themes, which due to the good reception of the audience, I found a lot of motivation to work simultaneously on stage and on social networks.
What are the characteristics of the show you are performing on stage?
Akbar Eghbali: Our show follows two “epic” and “brecht” styles in the form of humor. In epic theater, the spectator is constantly associated with the play and identifies with it, and this identification identifies the spectator emotionally with the play. In brechts style, the viewer must be made to think. Theater should be used as an experience and approach so that the spectator becomes part of the theater and is criticized. My friends and i excite the viewer in the comedy show by using fluent and improvised dialogues. In such a way that he does not notice the passage of time at all.
What message do you carry in your play that you expect the audience to think about and come with you?
Akbar Eghbali: Lack of judgment on the basis of appearance and respect for the personality of workers, giving importance to those who have artistic talent and ability without regard to social status, as well as promoting a culture of study. These are examples of the messages that my group and i convey to the viewer in the form of humor.
Unlike most comedy shows, you start your show in the crowd instead of on stage. how do people treat you when you are among them?
Akbar Eghbali: This is very enjoyable for me and i get a lot of positive energy from the audience during the performance. I select a few people from the audience and with improvised jokes with them, i create an intimate and unexpected atmosphere for the viewers. Fortunately, i receive a lot of loving messages both during the performance and on social media, and these messages give me more motivation to continue on this path.
Where did you start your career?
Akbar Eghbali: The story is very interesting and relates to the time i worked with my father. My father was a builder and i was helping him. Unfortunately, i lost my father in an accident, and since then we have had a difficult life with my mother and six sisters. I was twenty-one years old, but since i had learned to work and toil from my father as a child, i did my best so that my mother and sisters would not feel a bit lacking. It was as if my father was always with me and gave me strength of heart and made me more determined to continue on the path. One day something happened to me that changed the course of my life. From the beginning, i was very interested in theatrical works, especially comedy. But because of the responsibility I had to my family, i did not have the opportunity to pursue this issue. Nowruz was approaching and everyone was thinking about buying eid clothes and nowruz trips. But i could not afford to buy eid clothes for all my sisters with meager salaries, and this thought bothered me a lot. All i tried to do was support my mother and sisters.
I happened to see a man on the street who looked like a clown and was dressed in red. He was singing and dancing and And announcing the arrival of Nowruz . People also paid him for his art. I decided to do the same. With the money I earned, I was able to buy Eid clothes for my sisters and make my mother happy.
i was really happy about this . one day while i was singing and dancing at the crossroads, a woman who was a theater director liked my work and offered me a job in a theater. The first role he gave me after a few months of cleaning the stage was the role of a nail! that is, i played the role of a nail from the beginning to the end of the show. This was the beginning of my acting career on the theater stage, and after that i followed it more seriously.
You are an athlete and you use your athletic movements in the show. of course, if we want to look at the subject much more closely, you are the initiator of sports comedy or performance comedy in iran. How did this idea come to you?
Akbar Eghbali: I was an athlete before working in the theater. I have even won first place in sports several times in the past. Combining sports movements and comedy shows was an interesting idea that fortunately was well received. The audience laughs at my comedy and gets excited about my athleticism.
The character you have chosen is a person in work clothes. He enters the amphitheater and does things that are funny to the audience, regardless of the artists performances. Why did you choose this character?
Akbar Eghbali: I was a worker for many years in the past and i had a hard life. I felt that people have a positive and good attitude towards this section of society and they will communicate with this role very soon. Almost all the problems of the society can be expressed in the language of a simple worker in the form of a comedy show that both makes the spectator laugh and makes him think.
Your performance style is very fluent, understandable and admirable. You communicate with the audience very skillfully, as if they are also the actors of this play. How did the idea come to you to use the audience in your play?
Akbar Eghbali: When the comedy show is not limited to the stage and the whole amphitheater hall becomes the stage of the show, in addition to the main actors, people are also part of the actors of this show. Isn’t it interesting? It is very attractive for the spectator to express the problems of the society in the form of humor and in the language of a simple worker.
How do you choose the subjects and content of your show?
Akbar Eghbali: With the concurrence of my friends who are my playmates in the play, we observe the current issues of the society and with the meetings we have with them, we review these issues and finally, in my discretion, use them in the play.
You have spent many years performing comedy shows and making people happy. Are you ever tired of your job?
Akbar Eghbali: Undoubtedly, nothing is easy and no success is accidental. You have to work hard to reach the goal. I have endured many hardships. During these years, even the jealousy of my enemies has not tired me. Because my priority has been to achieve my goals. Peoples happiness gives me hope and energy, and i like to make people happy as long as i breathe.
And the final word
Akbar Eghbali: I owe my success to the prayers of my parents and the patience of my loving wife. If it were not for them, i would not have reached such a position. My father taught me that it does not matter if you are rich or poor, it is important to be a real human being.