Ahead of her epic UK tour, coming to Leeds Carriageworks Theatre on 7th April, Huddersfield on 17th May and Hebden Bridge on 19th May, Shazia Mirza has kindly taken part in an interview with me! I’m so excited – she’s one of the most inspiring UK comedians and it’s been great to hear her thoughts…
When did you first get into comedy? Can you remember your first gig?
I first started comedy about 12 years ago. My first gig was very memorable. There were no chairs, no microphone, no stage, everyone was talking and there were police sirens going off because a man was being arrested outside for drug dealing. Somehow everyone laughed at all my jokes, I thought ‘God this is easy’ and I thought I could somehow do this for a living, so I carried on.
“The ordinary is the most interesting.”
What do you like to base your comedy around? Your own experiences, or your opinions/view of the world as you see it?
Life. Ordinary people chatting on a bus, people waiting in a queue at a bus stop. The ordinary is the most interesting.
If you had to pick one person who inspired you to go into comedy, who would it be and why?
I love Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, George Carlin… all the greats who were all unique and all dead now. But I if I had to pick one, it would be Joan Rivers. She became the first woman to host a late night network television talk show, the first woman to do a lot of things. She was ground-breaking, unique and there had never been anyone like her before. During her 55-year career as a comedian, her satirical humour was both praised and criticized as truthful, yet too personal, too gossipy, and very often abrasive. But it was her ability to “tell it like it is” that made her a pioneer of contemporary stand-up comedy. Her style of comedy was something that she started. She had her knock backs but kept bouncing back. Her husband committed suicide – she bounced back. She was fired from late night TV- she bounced back. She had no work – she bounced back.
Do you have a favourite gig venue you always look forward to visiting?
I love going anywhere where people love me, obviously. But I do love playing a venue with a nice stage. Like Soho Theatre, or The Royal Vauxhall Tavern in London. It’s great to be on a stage where you can see and feel the audience.
What are your pre-gig routines and rituals (if you have any!)
I have to be by myself. Go through all my jokes, and not eat crisps because half way through your set they get stuck in your throat, you choke on them and can’t get your jokes out.
What are you most looking forward to about your With Love From St Tropez tour?
Playing different places and seeing different audiences who may not have seen me before.
… and what can audiences expect?
Well I hope people will find it funny, that’s one of the main things. There will be one liners, but as for 2017’s most popular topics, those topics are all pretty grim. Trump, Brexit, increase in racism. But I will definitely now be talking about my time on The Island with Bear Grylls, as it’s over now and I’m alive to tell the tale.
Catch Shazia Mirza on tour – get your tickets now!
Are you a Shazia Mirza fan? Let me know on Twitter!
Photograph credited to Amelia Troubridge