Stand-up comedian Tez Ilyas shares his views with us on the political climate at the moment, and the importance if politics in his work.
55- Does politics have an influence on your work?
Absolutely. As a person of colour and a Muslim I’m very conscious of the current state of the world and my place within it.
55- Which comedians have been your biggest influence since you decided this was your path?
Definitely Stewart Lee and more recently Kevin Hart, I think he is extremely underrated. I am also hugely influenced by writers, such as Armando Iannuci, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Chris Morris.
55- What are your thoughts on the current political landscape?
It’s pretty depressing the world over. It’s basically throwback- Thursday to rabid nationalism, fear-mongering and identity politics. There’s rising support for the far-right across Europe, the rise of Trump in the US, increased fundamentalism in the Middle-East, and in Britain the decision to leave the EU was hi-jacked by bigotry. It really seems like racism is fashionable again. So fashionable in fact, one could say, that racism is the new black.
55- Please tell us about your best and worst moment on stage so far.
Best: I recently recorded my debut BBC Radio 4 series, it’s called TEZ Talks and is out in August. I had an absolute blast on stage and I honestly could not have choreographed the audience better, they were amazing.
Worst: my first ever properly paid professional spot went terribly. Like I died hard. That was tough because I felt like a total fraud.
55- How important is the comical view point on Politics.
I think it can play a part. But comedians are not experts so the public shouldn’t look to them to shape their own opinions. But we’re great for soundbites!
55- Do you think comedy can break down political language in to a form thats more digestible and also accessible to the public?
Yes we can. There’s great examples of this the world over. A lot of people do find politics inaccessible and so anything that can help break it down and make it more penetrable can only be a good thing.
55- How serious are you politically and is the political side of you as important as the comedy? Not to say you want to be a politician!!
I am quite political, I follow it, I’m interested in it and I definitely am affected by it. Comedy is more important though. If comedy is my wife, politics is my cousin that I love hanging out with, but ultimately I have to get back home.
55- Do you shape your comedy to reflect the current political mood?
Parts of it. I don’t try and over do it. I have to always remember that an audience has come primarily to laugh... Anything that I want to impart has to be secondary to making them laugh.
55- Why is Edinburgh Fringe Festival such a great platform for comedians?
A. because you get to perform a show for 25 times consecutively, that will make you a stronger performer;
B. because it’s so much fun, you will meet so many new people and take away so many awesome memories; and
C. if your show flies it can change your life. It’s the biggest expo for comedians in the world, we’re there to sell our wares and the rewards can be awesome.
55- Who are you looking forward to seeing as an audience member?
People who smile and then laugh. It’s really tough staring out at people who have miserable resting faces (they don’t know they’re doing it), because it just makes you think they hate the show when that might not be the case.
55- What is your advice to aspiring comedians?
Gig hard, write hard, persevere and have a sense of self-awareness i.e. find out what works for you and hone that, don’t try and be someone you’re not, the audience will know.
55- What is the oddest heckle you’ve ever received?
Some woman interrupted a performance once by yelling out bacon. Completely unsolicited. I gave her what-for let me tell you.
55- What is next for you?
I’m hoping this show lands well with audiences, critics and the industry and I can tour it early next year around the country and it opens up even more doors for me to write and develop my own scripted comedy for TV. Oh and hopefully a second series of the radio show would be sweeeet.
'Tez Ilyas – Made In Britain will be at the Edinburgh Festival Pleasance Courtyard – for the month of August for tickets go to www.edfringe.com’
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