Work hard while you are alive so that people know you matter: Adnan Nalwala, entrepreneur & stand-up comic

The Proust Questionnaire is a questionnaire about one’s personality. It has its origins in a parlour game popularised by Marcel Proust, the French essayist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature

1st Jun 2019
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Adnan Nalwala is an entrepreneur by day and comedian by night. Born in Oman, raised by Indian parents and having lived in eight countries and having travelled to over 40 countries, Adnan has an effortless way with observational humour and impersonations. He is arguably one the leading comedians in the Middle East and the only one who performs in India on a professional level. Adnan launched his standup comedy routine a decade ago and has over 500 shows to his credit. He is also the co- creator of the game ‘Spill it’, which is an interactive card game. Here are his responses to our Proust questionnaire...

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Playing sports, eating a good meal and a good conversation with friends gives me a lot of happiness.

What is your greatest fear?

Failing on stage while delivering a set.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I overthink. Sometimes that kills the vibe to live in the moment.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

I don’t like lazy people. If most people were busy in life doing something productive many of the possible wrong things, they could end up doing would end. I truly believe in the adage that an idle mind is the Devil’s workshop.

Which living person do you most admire?

As an entertainer: I admire Amitabh Bachchan. He has managed to stay current for over 50 years. No other actor has done that. While most people admire him for his roles as the angry young man, his brilliance is visible in comic roles too. His acting in Do aur Do Paanch, Amar Akbar Anthony, Satte pe Satta was brilliant because of his comic timing.

 As a sportsman: MS Dhoni, as he is the humblest sportsman who has delivered time and again. In the statistics chart if there was a column that recorded 'runs under pressure', MS Dhoni would be the best batsman ever.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I think time is the most valuable asset anyone has and sometimes I end up spending more time on work than my family.

What is your current state of mind?


What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Being hardworking.

On what occasion do you lie?

On stage, to exaggerate a joke.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

Nothing really.

Which living person do you most despise?

It is not my place to despise anyone.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

Someone who values time and money.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

The same - someone who values time and money.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Next level.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My family.

Which talent would you most like to have?

In an ideal world If I could go back in time, I would probably play tennis at a professional level.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would like to be a little more patient.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Two things: I have been able to convert my passion stand comedy into a professional success and I have co-created a game called ‘Spill It.’ 

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

A professional tennis player.

Where would you most like to live?

London or New York.

What is your most treasured possession?

A pocket watch which my grandfather gave to my dad, who later gave it to me.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

As a comedian, failing on stage. As a business man asking for payment after doing the work that was required.

What is your favourite occupation?

Occupation; I would say a professional tennis player.

What is your most marked characteristic?

People say I am disciplined.

What do you most value in your friends?


Who are your favourite writers?

Timothy Ferriss and Malcolm Gladwell.

Who is your hero of fiction?


Which historical figure do you most identify with?

I don’t identify with him but I would love to be like John D Rockefeller.

Who are your heroes in real life?

My parents. My father is a self –made successful business man and participates in community development activities. My mother has an amazing sense of humor and is an active member in philanthropy activities.      

What is your favourite name?

Don’t have one.

What is it that you most dislike?


What is your greatest regret?

I wish had started comedy earlier.

How would you like to die?

In peace.

What is your favourite journey?

My journey building my brand as a comedian.

What is your motto?

Live and let live. Work hard while you are alive so that people know you matter.

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