What is the worst audience response you have ever received?
Shannon Bruffy, NEW YORK CITY
One time I told a joke, and the audience didn't laugh. That's the worst it could ever get. Every now and then you'll have a bad set, but you have to keep going. If I really believe in a new joke, I'll try it again and see if it works. If it doesn't work, then everyone is wrong but me.
If you could invite a comedian to dinner, who would it be?
Brenda Garcia, JAKARTA
One of my big inspirations is Chris Rock. He hit the zeitgeist with his comedy specials. He said what everyone was thinking. I really look up to Larry David. It's amazing what he's done with Curb Your Enthusiasm. And the fact that he's an older dude and still killing it--if I can be an old Indian dude doing awesome comedy, that would be great.
If comedy doesn't work out for you, what's your fallback?
Chris Oltrogge, CHICAGO
Geez, I still need to have a fallback? Come on, Chris! I would probably sell knives on the Home Shopping Network. No, make that swords. I can brag about the craftsmanship. Should be fine.
Don't you ever get tired of having to be funny?
Daulet Bakbergenov, ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN
Don't you get tired of being from Kazakhstan? [Laughs.] Sometimes it can be tiring when people want you to be on. But I think if you do comedy, there's a part of your personality that likes being funny and enjoys exercising that part of your brain--or else you wouldn't do it.
How much do comedians steal jokes from one another?
Mark Sawaya, BEIRUT
I don't think that's a common problem. I think that has been overblown because of the Internet. There are a couple of famous accusations, but it's not really a thing that happens very often, in my experience. You're not going to move up [in the business] doing that.
Has your ethnicity helped or hindered your career?
Ashir Siddiqui, TORONTO
I would probably say helped it? It's hard to say. I have friends who are actors, and if they're just normal-looking white dudes, it's really hard because there are so many normal-looking white dudes. Not a lot of weird-looking Indian dudes with beards running around. When I first started out, I would get offers to audition for parts where [I'd play] this Indian guy with an accent. I'm not interested in doing that kind of humor. Eventually it becomes clear that this guy doesn't want to do jokes that rely on ethnicity.
Do you have any special type of ritual you do before you perform stand-up?
Olivia Wilcox, YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y.
That's a racist question. No--um, I don't have any kind of special ritual. I sometimes listen to the previous show for any changes I made that I want to incorporate. I drink tea. It's all really boring--no cocaine or heroin.
How has Twitter had an impact on comedians' material?
Mike Loretto, PLEASANT HILL, CALIF.
Twitter is an outlet that, if you have a funny thought, you can immediately share it with a large group of people. My jokes are usually longer than one-liners, so it's not as helpful for me.
How do you come up with your jokes?