Ali Siddiq

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Ali Siddiq
BornTemplate:Birth based on age as of date
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Years active1997–present

Ali Siddiq (born c. 1973/1974)[1] is an American stand-up comedian, public speaker, and writer based in Houston, Texas.[2]

In 2013 Comedy Central named him the "#1 Comic to Watch".[2] In 2019 he was a finalist on NBC’s comedy competition show Bring the Funny.[3][4]

Early life[edit source | edit]

Siddiq was born in Houston.[5] After his parents' separation, Siddiq and his siblings were raised by their single mother, living for a time in the projects.[6] He and his siblings also went on to live with other family members.[6] Siddiq started selling drugs around the age of 14 and was imprisoned at the age of 19 for trafficking in cocaine.[7][8] He served 6 years of a 15 year sentence in the Ruben M. Torres Unit in Hondo, Texas.[1][4] It was during his incarceration, while telling jokes to fellow inmates, that he discovered his ability to make people laugh.[9] He worked in the prison's laundromat and his workmates were his captive audience.[10]

After his release from prison in 1997, Siddiq started doing stand-up at the Just Joking Comedy Cafe in Houston.[7][11] His first stage appearance was during the comedy club's Apollo Night, which tended to attract a college crowd.[7] Siddiq was booed on his first occasion on stage because he was wearing a suit.[7] He decided to wait a couple of weeks before trying again while wearing jeans and a t-shirt.[7] Siddiq became the co-host of the Apollo Night show a month later.[7]

Career[edit source | edit]

Siddiq's stand-up comedy tends to be in the storytelling style, versus the more common setup/punch-line style.[12][13] Siddiq's sets involve stories from his personal life, as well his observations on current events, race and politics.[11][12][14][15]

Siddiq's first television appearance was in 2008 on HBO's Def Comedy Jam.[10][16] In 2012 he appeared on BET's Comic View and also appeared at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal.[10][16] In 2013 he was named Comedy Central's "#1 Comic to Watch".[2]

In 2015 he appeared on the Comedy Central web and television series This is Not Happening and told his story of a prison riot where he learned the meaning of the phrase "Mexican got on boots!"[2] The video of this story received 5 million hits on YouTube.[16] Siddiq also appeared on AXS TV's Gotham Comedy Live (filmed at the Gotham Comedy Club) that same year.[2] In 2016 he released his first half hour special on Comedy Central.[10][16]

In 2017 he began production on his one-hour special Ali Siddiq: It’s Bigger Than These Bars, which was filmed at the Bell County Jail in Belton, Texas.[2][4] Released on Comedy Central in 2018, Siddiq can be seen performing in front of a group of inmates interspersed with scenes of him sitting down with smaller groups of incarcerated men and women in their cells, as well as with prison administrators.[4][16]

In 2019 Siddiq appeared on D.L. Hughley's late night talk show The D.L. Hughley Show, as well as the Comedy Central series This Week at the Comedy Cellar, in addition to being a finalist on the NBC comedy competition series Bring the Funny.[3][17]

Siddiq has released five comedy albums: Talking Loud Saying Something (Live at the Improv) released in 2010; Enjoy Your Life and Freedom of Speech, which were both released in 2013; Damaged Goods released in 2016 and The Prison Manual released in 2019.[3]

Philanthropy[edit source | edit]

Since 2009 Siddiq has hosted the annual Jive Turkeys Comedy Show to raise money for the Houston Food Bank. The show is performed each November close to Thanksgiving.[5][7]

In 2017 he organized and performed at a benefit for Houstonians affected by Hurricane Harvey.[5] In 2018 Siddiq also performed at an annual benefit held by Saba Homes, an orphanage organization created to help orphans of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan.[18]

Siddiq has also volunteered for Harris County’s Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program.[5]

References[edit source | edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Gaston, Gina (February 10, 2018). "Convict turned comedian, Ali Siddiq working to put Houston on the comedy map". KTRK-TV. Houston, Texas. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "Ali Siddiq returns to jail for his first one-hour special "Ali Siddiq: It's Bigger Than These Bars" premiering February 23 at 11:00 P.M. ET/PT on Comedy Central" (Press release). New York: Comedy Central. February 1, 2018. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Patton, Rebecca (September 17, 2019). "Will 'Bring The Funny' Return For Season 2? Here's How To Support The Finalists After The Show Ends". Bustle. New York City, New York. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Hagerty, Michael (August 28, 2019). "Comedian Ali Siddiq Spent Six Years In Prison And My Stepdad Was His Guard". Houston Public Media. Houston, Texas: University of Houston. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Vognar, Chris (August 28, 2019). "Houston comedian Ali Siddiq makes it to semi-finals on 'Bring The Funny'". Houston Chronicle. Houston, Texas. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Spohn, Morgan (March 22, 2018). "Ali Siddiq talks comedy, life lessons with the Daily Cardinal". The Daily Cardinal. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin. Retrieved November 29, 2019. “We weren’t in those circumstances for long because my mom had a good job. She went to college, but when my father left, that put us in a disposition for about two or three years,” Siddiq said. His mom decided she could take care of herself, but still sent him and his siblings to live with his relatives in many different places.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Johnson, Seth (November 21, 2018). "Ali Siddiq's Road from Prison to Comedy". NUVO. Indianapolis, Indiana. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  8. Faires, Robert (April 19, 2018). "Moontower Comedy 2018: Ali Siddiq". The Austin Chronicle. Austin, Texas. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  9. Castleberry, Tony (March 7, 2018). "Ali Siddiq 'extremely proud' of Comedy Central special he filmed in jail". WECT. Wilmington, North Carolina. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Kozell, Isaac (September 16, 2016). "No Crowd Is Too Tough for Ali Siddiq". Vulture. New York, New York: New York. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Wilcox, David (January 14, 2016). "Comedian to record Auburn set for Comedy Central's consideration". The Citizen. Auburn, New York. p. D3. Retrieved November 29, 2019 – via
  12. 12.0 12.1 MacPherson, Guy (March 5, 2018). "Tom Papa, Ali Siddiq, and Beth Stelling craft standout laughs at JFL NorthWest comedy festival". The Georgia Straight. Vancouver, British Columbia. Retrieved November 29, 2019. Houston’s Ali Siddiq ambled onto the stage at the Biltmore on Saturday, taking his sweet time to set up a chair next to the mike, before sitting his butt down and quietly announcing, “I really don’t tell jokes; I just sit here and talk.” He was wrong on both counts. Maybe he didn’t do conventional setup/punch-line stuff, but there’s no denying his words were intended to get maximum laughs. And they did. He’s definitely in the storyteller vein, but even without the obvious jokes, he was hilarious.
  13. Buss, Andrew (February 23, 2018). "Ali Siddiq talks, "It's Bigger Than These Bars"". The Laugh Button. Retrieved November 29, 2019. The moment Ali Siddiq steps out onstage, you know this isn’t going to be your ordinary comedian telling jokes. This goes beyond what you’ve come to expect. This is pure story telling, pulling back the curtain, and letting you inside.
  14. Logan, Brian (October 30, 2018). "Ali Siddiq review – charisma and hard-won authenticity from an ex-con". The Guardian. London, United Kingdom. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  15. Almaula, Mirali (October 11, 2016). "Ali Siddiq Damaged Goods". Exclaim!. Toronto, Ontario. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 "Comedian Ali Siddiq to Bring 'Ali Siddiq is bigger than bars' to Soho Theatre". BroadwayWorld. September 18, 2018. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  17. "Guest: Ali Siddiq". The DL Hughley Show. Season 1. Episode 93. September 5, 2019. TV One. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  18. Blume, Liam (December 21, 2018). "Helping Orphans Through All–Star Comedy and Falafels". OC Weekly. Fountain Valley, California. Retrieved November 29, 2019.

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