This past year we have all been forced to change our routines and find various ways to cope with what has been happening around us. For many of us, we have been turning to media and to fitness – something that comedian Maz Jobrani knows very well. As a comedian, he has been doing his part to ease the monogamy of lockdown after lockdown with his podcasts, and specials, and personally he has been relying heavily on his running and fitness routine to keep himself going.

We here at Inside Fitness, got a chance to sit down with him and talk on these topics a little:

IFM: Running has been mentioned as one of the ways that you helped your mental health during the height of the pandemic. Was this something new, or was it a continuation of a pre-pandemic habit? 

MJ: I’ve always run since I was in my teens and it’s always been a way to decompress. Ever since the 80s when I would run with a yellow Sony Walkman it’s been helping me cope with stress. I think in the pandemic I made it a more consistent part of my life.

IFM: What is it about running that draws you to it? What is it about running that you feel helps your mental health? 

MJ: There are many things that attract me to running. You can do it alone. You can run outside in the fresh air. You can listen to your podcasts. You clear your mind from life’s stresses. I think the acts of running towards your goal and focusing on the run help you release stress. I know the endorphins that come with your workout also stimulate your mind. Lastly, running makes me feel better about what I eat and drink because I feel I’ve earned it.

IFM: Do you have any advice for other people who are thinking of getting into running, but aren’t certain where to start, or if it’ll be a right fit for them? 

MJ: I would suggest to start with lower goals. Try and run a mile at your own pace. It’s okay to start and stop where you walk a little bit of it. Be consistent and try to improve as you go. Listen to shows or books that you like to help pass the time as you go.

IFM: Speaking of shows, let’s talk a little about your own podcast. What has that experience been like?

MJ: My podcast, Back to School with Maz Jobrani has been fun. It was inspired by my kids who would ask me questions I didn’t have answers for. I decided rather than going to Google I would bring in experts to answer these questions. It has evolved into an excuse to talk to interesting people. We have had people from all walks of life on the show including a cave diver to someone who helped land the Rover on Mars to political figures. The more guests I have on the more I realize how many interesting people there are in the world. I hope people check it out and enjoy it!

IFM: Quick jump back to writing, why don’t you tell us a bit about the International Medical Corps, and why you chose to do a charity run for them?

MJ: IMC is a charity that travels to areas around the world and helps anytime disaster strikes. They have doctors and others who help communities around the world and have been very active in the US during the pandemic. I decided to raise money for them with a run around the premiere of my comedy special. I had decided to challenge myself to run 10 miles, (which I hadn’t done in many years). I figured what better motivation than raising money for a charity I work with. I was encouraged by many of the other people who joined me and helped me raise money for them.

IFM: You mentioned your new special, Pandemic Warrior. Why don’t you tell us a little about this? What’s it about? How did the idea start? How did the process go? 

MJ: This was my 6th comedy special and I am excited to have it out. I originally recorded it in December of 2019 in Dubai. I had hoped to have it out in 2020, but because of the pandemic I had to put a pause on that. I decided to add a few minutes at the top and end of the special from a closet in my home, the way I’ve been doing comedy under the Covid lockdown. I think that helps give it some context. The special covers a lot of topics including my family, politics and social issues. It was fun to make and it’s even more fun to hear from people who are now seeing it.

IFM: Beyond your comedy specials, you have been doing a lot of virtual comedy during the pandemic; what is it about comedy that you think, that helps people cope with tough times?  

MJ: I think comedy reveals a lot of our common experiences. The whole world is going through the same thing these days and when comedians do Zoom shows making fun of their lives under lockdown I think it helps for the audience to realize that they are not alone. It’s almost like therapy, but cheaper 🙂