(No, But Here's Why It Feels That Way)

By Fareeha Khan

Fareeha Khan is a comedian and artist based in New York City. Her stand up has been featured on an episode of Comedy Central’s “Tight Five” presented by Ilana Glazer and she's toured with Man Repeller. Her writing and acting credits include MTV, Reductress, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Comedy Central, and Adult Swim, as well as several indie short films. Her short film she created, wrote, and starred in, Break Up, Baby, was a NoBudge 2021 pick and Vulture said she has “an enchanting onscreen presence” in it, which was pretty cool. She self-publishes zines, essays, and comics exploring the search for meaning in the trappings of capitalism, which you can find on her website:

The starving artist” is less of a cute stereotype and more of an economic reality created by systemic inequality, unnecessary yet true.

Making art in a modern capitalist system is painful as all hell.
Every second of it is fighting off the notion of futility. I find making otherworldly drawings and telling fun jokes to be a fulfilling way to spend my time and escape the meaninglessness imbued onto existence within the system, but the economy barely rewards such an endeavor with money (unless you get famous, which, like, seems to ruin your life). Yet we need money to survive. Ah, so here we are, dear readers: the center of our predicament. The paradox of wanting to pursue art while existing within capitalism. Making art is hard. There is the entrapment of heavy procrastination initiated by self-doubt. (Refer to the book The War of Art for more, but you know, it’s in the title.)

There is my dad telling me in 1997 that if I wanted to be an artist when I grow up, I’d end up homeless. There is the reality that he was correct and now he helps me with money to live in the city to pursue art. There is the relentless ever-present hold of late-stage-American-capitalism, in which we are so reliant on the free market that the only way to stay alive is to either spend the majority of your life in labor or to get born into generational wealth, the latter of which is out of our control. The other option is homelessness, like my dad said. There are no other options. Most of my artist friends are broke and struggling. “The starving artist” is less of a cute stereotype and more of an economic reality created by systemic inequality, unnecessary yet true. At least in Canada you get guaranteed healthcare and a livable minimum wage, but I’m writing from the crumbling American empire so just know that going into this.

How does your work and experience as a comedian relate to and include the themes in your zine?

As a comedian, it can feel very free-spirited because there are no rules besides whatever it is that you want to do when you get on stage and I feel the same way about zine making. I've found that as a comedian, what I usually write jokes about is what I'm obsessing about in my own mind at that very moment, and I applied that same process to this zine. Which is pretty much: the foils of capitalism and wondering why we are trapped here :)

Can you speak more about how using your voice in comedy relates to writing and illustrating? Do you see them as different skill sets?

I think they all come from the same place, which is that mysterious movement of creativity that strikes all of us at various times out of our control, so you just gotta strike when it hits. I see them all coming from the same desire within me to express myself and create something – the impulsive human desire to make something of myself – but just finding different outlets of expression. I do have my mars in Gemini so maybe that's why I have like a bunch of ways I want to talk and can't decide on just one.
Could you describe your experience with printing? Why did you decide to print this physically? How was the experience? Do you want to print more things in the future?

This is my first time ever printing my work. I've always wanted to print on risograph because it looks so beautiful! I think with this project, I really wanted to create a physical tangible record of my work and a capsule of a certain time because often comedy can feel ephemeral. We do it on stage and then once the show is over, that was it until the next show. Sure there's video and personal experience, but all of it is intangible. I was craving holding something in my hands and saying I made this.

I definitely want to print more of my artwork and new zines in the future! This has been a really satisfying experience overall in a way that feels hard to find in an all digital world. I hope more people find that satisfaction in this crazy life!

Photos by Fareeha Khan - ︎ website: