Shabana Rehman Gaarder

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Shabana Rehman Gaarder
Shabana Rehman.jpg
Born (1976-07-14) 14 July 1976 (age 42)
Karachi, Pakistan
Nationality Norwegian
Known for stand-up comedy

Shabana Rehman Gaarder (Urdu: شبانه رحمان) (born 14 July 1976 in Karachi, Pakistan) is a Norwegian stand-up comedian, writer and columnist.

Personal history[edit]

One of seven children,[1] she moved with her family to Norway in 1977.


She married writer Dagfinn Nordbø in 2003, the two having initially met on the stand-up circuit in 1999. Tabloid newspaper Dagbladet listed the couple among the country's most influential opinion shapers.[2] After two years of marriage the couple split up as Rehman was moving to the United States for studies. Then in August 2007 the couple announced that they were divorcing though still remaining friends.[3]

In 2008 she married Martin Gaarder, a journalist in the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.[4]

Professional career[edit]

Shabana Rehman Gaarder standup during the Girl Dinner 2011 arranged by Start NHH

She is active in several arenas and is devoted to breaking taboos and creating more openness.

Rehman started her career as a columnist in VG in 1996, her debut as a stand-up comedian came in 1999.[5] She later started working as a columnist for Dagbladet in 2000 and now regularly writes for newspapers and magazines.

Rehman has received international publicity and has been interviewed by Time Magazine and the New York Times.[5] Her shows have played for full houses in Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands. She is fluent in Norwegian, Urdu and English, and has performed in German.[5]

In 2006 Shabana joined the American Comedy Institute in New York City.[5]


Shabana performing at the London International Conference on Free Expression and Conscience 2017.

These are some of the events that have created debate around her persona. In Scandinavia it is referred to as the "Shabana debate".[5] She has police protection.[1]

Anthropologist Marianne Gullestad accused Rehman of reinforcing stereotypes about Muslims, and making Norwegians think it's ok to discriminate against immigrants.[2]

  • 25 August 2005 - Shots were fired at a restaurant owned by Rehman's sister.[1]
  • 21 August 2005 - Rehman was invited to the opening of the Norwegian International Film Festival and was granted huge press attention after kissing the then cultural minister of Norway Valgerd Svarstad Haugland (Haugland represents the Christian Democrats (KrF) of Norway and has worked extensively towards gay rights). She also flashed her naked bottom saying "I want to show that in Norway, you can do such things without being lynched or arrested."[1]
  • 19 March 2005 - In a commentary in Dagbladet, Fødemaskinens fødselsarv (Translated: The birth heritage of the breeding machine) she talked openly about her own abortion.
  • 27 April 2004 - Rehman was granted enormous publicity both in national and international press after lifting Mullah Krekar.[6] The event resulted in a complaint to the police but was later closed with the reasoning: 'there is currently no reasonable ground for the public to search for perpetrations that the public should persecute'. Her own reason for doing this stunt was: A person that can be lifted is not that dangerous.
  • 2000 - Posed nude on the cover of Dagbladet with the Norwegian flag painted on her, saying "I take my clothes off to provoke the authoritarians in order to expose them."[2]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Shots fired at Pakistani-born comic’s Oslo restaurant, Daily Times, 25 August 2005
  2. ^ a b c Nice Witch of the North, Time, 22 August 2004
  3. ^ Opsann, Carina (14 August 2007). "Shabana Rehman skilles". (in Norwegian). Se og Hør. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
  4. ^ Skattebo, Geir Helge (22 August 2008). "Shabana + Martin = sant". Avisa Valdres (in Norwegian). Avisa Valdres. Archived from the original on 24 August 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
  5. ^ a b c d e Standup comedian and writer Shabana Rehman in New York
  6. ^ "Immigrant comedienne maddens Mullah". Aftenposten. 28 April 2004. Archived from the original on 2004-10-10.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Skien Journal; Where East Meets West Warily, She Makes Them Laugh", New York Times, 14 November 2003

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Nils Christie
Recipient of the Fritt Ord Award
(shared with Aslam Ahsan)
Succeeded by
Berge Furre