Tez Ilyas – a 2016 Edinburgh Festival Interview

31 Jul

Interview with Susan Ford

Last year, Tez Ilyas’s show Tez Talks was a huge hit, and we are very excited to see his new show ‘Made In Britain’ back in this year’s Edinburgh Fringe brochure.  Tez has had numerous TV and radio appearances (including new BBC3 short with Nish Kumar ‘Go Home Office’, and I fully expect that his 2016 Edinburgh Fringe show will make “Tez Ilyas” one of the hottest names in comedy. As the Fringe quickly approaches, I caught up with Tez to see how he is getting ready for the Festival.

Hello Tez, how are you?

Well, it’s the middle of Ramadan and we left the EU yesterday, so hungry, tired and
annoyed.

Are you excited about performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year?
Oh yes. Lurve the Fringe and love Edinburgh.

Tell us what you have been doing since last year’s festival?
OMA so much. I’ve made my first mainstream TV appearances including some stand-up, created my own series for Radio 4 which I think is going out in August, filmed a couple of comedy shorts with fun people, gigged up and down the country, fought off a few bigots online, got a bloody blue tick on Twitter, wrote a brand new show… oh and I went on the Hajj – pilgrimage to Mecca. Phew.

Last year’s show Tez Talks was AMAZING, how do you plan on topping it this year?
That is extremely kind of you. This year’s show is a lot more personal so will give a chance for my Tezbians to get to know who I am, my background, what makes me tick and there’s also one or two pretty big revelations.

How much time and preparation goes in to writing an Edinburgh show?
Man, it’s months and months of relentless writing, performing, re-writing, doubts, abandoning ideas, moaning, and re-writes until something that was only an idea 10 months ago becomes a cohesive funny narrative that you’re proud to perform in front of people.

Previously, as part of the Comedy Reserve you took on the festival with three other comedians. How does performing as part of a comedy group compare to performing solo?
It’s definitely easier when you’re in a compilation show. The pressure’s not solely on you and the success of the show doesn’t necessarily rely on you. When you’re on your own, everything is up to you, but then the rewards are so much greater too!

Will you be involved in any other shows other than your solo one this year?
Not this year. If anyone’s reading this I’d love to play Winston Smith in an adaptation of 1984 next year. Let’s make it happen.

What are your expectations and dreams for this year’s Fringe Festival?
I would love this show to be as well received as last year’s show, I’d love to sell every single seat in my room and I’d love some awesome opportunities to come my way as a result of this show. Most importantly I want to come back from Edinburgh with no regrets, which means working as hard as I can now to ensure this show is as good as I am
capable of making it.

How do you plan on remaining unique at the Fringe and what will make you stand out?
I read somewhere that only 7% of comedy shows this year are from people of colour, so my life and my perspectives are pretty unique in the context of the Fringe festival and so I hope the same type of awesome open-minded people that came to last year’s show also come to this one too. Smileyface.

What preparations do you have in place for the lead up to the Festival?
Lots and lots of previews and gigs to make sure that every aspect of the show is nailed down.

Last year saw some great photos at the end of your show – What’s the best audience reaction that you experienced, and how do you deal with hecklers?
When people laugh at things that you’ve written and thought of it’s a great experience and I get that thing now where people ask to take selfies with me sometimes after a show or a gig and that’s quite surreal, because in mind I’m like: ‘why?’ But if that is the way society validates people then I happy to do that in exchange for their laughter. With hecklers I usually just turn the crowd against them, quite often they have this false sense that others welcome the disruption but nothing could be further from the truth. The rest of the audience soon let them know they want them to be quiet. It’s effective.

What other acts do you recommend we catch at this year’s Fringe?
SO many good people are up there this year, but the five acts I’m definitely going to catch
are: Sophie Willan, Kate Lucas, Johnny Cochrane, Nish Kumar and Jamali Maddix

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