Ahmed Bharoocha’s comedy dream grew out of a misunderstanding.
Back in 2004, when Bharoocha was an engineering student at the University of Rhode Island, he applied to be a dishwasher and busboy at Stitches Komedy Kafe in nearby Providence. He pursued the gig under the impression that the comedy club staff would be counted on to make customers laugh.
“That’s why I tried to work there,” Bharoocha says. “Once I got there I realized, ‘Oh, I’m just applying to be the busboy — not a funny busboy.’”
Bharoocha bided his time, quietly writing his own material. After a year, he signed up for his first open mic. He started working the Boston scene as well, becoming a comic in residence at the trendy Comedy Studio. Bharoocha made the move to Los Angeles in 2010, gaining a following as part of the sketch comedy troupe Dead Kevin while also grinding through the open-mic circuit.
“Most of the stage time is pretty awful,” Bharoocha says of those early days. “But with stand-ups, it’s like an addict thing — you’re just kind of addicted to the art and performing. So even when it’s not going well, you still come back for more. You kind of don’t know what else to do.”
Eventually, Bharoocha’s commitment paid dividends. Pairing sharp observations on day-to-day life with high-energy theatrics, the 34-year-old has become a stand-up pro with sets on “Conan” and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” under his belt.
“I’m just kind of a silly, goofy person up there, making fun of life,” he says.
The son of an Irish Catholic mother and a Pakistani-Indian-Burmese Muslim father, Bharoocha has a perspective that lends itself to cultural commentary. While he does touch on topics like politics, race and religion in his act, he approaches the material with a tone that’s lighthearted and open-minded.
“I don’t really feel like making people only laugh when they agree with me,” Bharoocha says. “I think that can be a dangerous thing, or doesn’t really challenge yourself creatively. I also try to remember that I’m a comedian and I really don’t come from a place of authority, so these are just my thoughts and my ideas and not necessarily scripture.”
Besides his stand-up, which brings him to Drafthouse Comedy this weekend, Bharoocha is a regular on the trippy Adult Swim comedy “Dream Corp LLC,” appearing alongside the likes of “Napoleon Dynamite’s” Jon Gries and “The Office” co-creator Stephen Merchant. The series, which returns for a second season this fall, represents another piece of a career Bharoocha could have only dreamed of a decade and a half ago while he was scrubbing dishes in a Rhode Island comedy club.
“Pretty early on I wanted [comedy] to be a career,” Bharoocha says. “It definitely took a lot longer than you’d want. Now I just want to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Drafthouse Comedy, 1100 13th St. NW; Fri. & Sat., 7 & 9 p.m., $20.