Hi, Tez. This is your third standup show. What is it actually?In rough terms, the first one was about religion, the second was about the culture, and that is about the policy. It is Teztify. I confront many of the assumptions people make about me. The main reason is that I’m religious in a secular world and an extremely secular industry. I had a working-class upbringing in Blackburn, my politics-the left and I am a man of color-this is what I’m talking about.
Tez Ilyas review – smart Comedy about a British citizen of Pakistani life
You feel out of the place, the religious on the Stand-up-Paddle-circuit? There are a few other Muslim comics, such as Aatif Nawaz and Bilal Zafar, and some of the Jewish comics, and a few Christians, but they don’t really wear it on their sleeves. People can say what they want on stage, but what bothers me is that when comics talk about the religion, the writing is often lazy and not very intelligent. Worst of all, it’s not very funny.
There are common themes, what are the comics usually say about religion?It is often that religion is the source of all that is evil, stuff that’s been said a million times. A friend told me that they don’t believe in the religion, they believed in the science. This sentence annoyed me, because science is a method of inquiry not a belief system, so I’ve written a bit silly, that. Also, if someone says he has faith in the science that proposes it, I believe that it is – I have a degree in biochemistry!
In a way, you are challenging your fellow comics?Yes. If a comic is talking about something as big as religion, at least know, right. Also, if I’m in a routine of politics, I am trying to do something else – like the way a lot of the left argued about Brexit; it’s so condescending to tell people they are stupid Leak for the vote. This only reinforces the belief of the people. Whatever the people were the reasons to develop them. It’s like Donald Trump. Reporting every bad thing he says and go crazy about it not to dissuade votes in his core. You want the side of him.
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Her style is more naughty and playful than people expect from a political comedian. A reviewer said he could imagine a host of show you a game …I would do it absolutely love – The-Generation-game or something. I am very open in terms of my career, whether it’s writing a sitcom, the main role in it, or touring 1,000-seater venues. I’ve done a few TV panel shows, but I would like a regular one.
What do you do, like a panel show?It is to do something completely different, standup, as they are almost in direct competition for the broadcast time with the other. Really nothing else in life can prepare you for the cut and thrust, wherein on a panel show. It is not difficult, because the audience knows who you are. They are there for the big names. You get an introduction, but you’re a guest, people will assume that you are garbage. If you don’t do standup, you’re in competition with someone else in this moment.
“People will assume you’re trash’ … Tez Ilyas. Photo: Steve Ulla Thorne
You will play the comedy club circuit as well as tours, your full-man-shows. How does the material differ?I censored myself after the Manchester attack. It felt easy to go raw on stage and talk about terrorism. As a comedian, you need to understand the climate, you just have to execute. There is a time and a place to do the material. I stabbed her – I’m half an hour away from Manchester. Also, the audience can go a bit drunk in a club and the night what you say lost sometimes. There are times that I’ve made, a point that is not the censorship itself, as after the Paris attacks. I wanted to show that Muslims are people of such cruel and deliberately my material kept the same.
What’s the worst gig you ever had?The one in the night I checked in with my management! It was Up on the Creek [in Greenwich, South of London]; you posted had me close to a Christmas show. I don’t have the experience, close any show, let alone a Christmas, which are even harder than usual. There were a few large groups, as destructive, and someone heckled me in the morning. I’ve tried to do with him, and I took him down, quite brutally. The Problem was, I had the audience’s backing, they seemed to be on his side. It turned into an argument. I meant to do 20 minutes, I think I have about 12. I went to sign the papers with the management after the show and I said, “Are you sure?!” I know now to ignore that you have, the hecklers on the first, get the audience on your side, then who will take it is down.
How is it at the Edinburgh festival?I love it. The drinking culture is not a problem, I was at the University for four years, so I’m used to it. Edinburgh basically feels like a four-weeks-bear group for the comics. You do work for an hour a day; the rest of the time, you do what you want.
• Tez Ilyas: Teztify is at the Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, until 27 August.