Omid Djalili: Schmuck for a Night

‘One of the most joyfully smart, stimulating and entertaining comedians this country has’ The Daily Telegraph

‘Belly laughs with a subtle blend of mainstream gags and subversive twinkle’ Sunday Times

Intelligent, sometimes provocative and always entertaining, Omid Djalili’s stand up is a hugely energetic and captivating comedy masterclass.  His recent credits include: Dickensian (BBC1), Lucky Man (Sky1) and Going Forward (BBC4).

Read our chat with Omid below ahead of his visit to the Wyvern Theatre on Sunday 22 January 2017.

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Hello Omid, Thank you very much for your time. The new show’s called ‘Schmuck for a Night’. Why Schmuck?

I like the word ‘schmuck’. It means ‘fool’ or buffoon. You have to be a schmuck to do comedy in today’s climate.  I’m embracing the schmuck in me to take on the big issues of our day. Plus, it’s a word that ends with ‘uck’ which can only be a good thing.

You touch on Brexit, ISIS and Trump in the show. It’s a long tour, will the show change while you’re on the road?

Well, I think the show will change even while I’m on stage. It’ll be so current sometimes audiences won’t laugh until they get home and turn on the TV.

Are you looking forward to that challenge?

Of course. Although, my main challenge is getting the audience in a good mood again after my support act Boothby Graffoe has been on. Sometimes people haven’t finished boo-ing until a few minutes into my act. (Laughs)

You produced a show known as the ‘Iraq Out & Loud’ project at the Edinburgh Fringe, which involved reading the Chilcot report in full, 24 hours a day. How did the idea come about?

I was on the phone to Boothby in July when I said, “we should do a show at next year’s Edinburgh Festival where we just read the Chilcot report 24 hours a day.” He mentioned it to a promoter called Bob Slayer, and rang me back and said, “there’s a guy called Bob who’s mad enough to do it this year.” So while Bob was building a shed to stage it in, we were contacting all our friends in comedy to read it and kick the idea off. It took 285 hours and 1444 people to read it. I read too. It was a truly one off experience.

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It was a great idea. The Edinburgh Comedy Awards judges certainly thought so, awarding it the Panel Prize.

At my age, winning an award? What a pleasant surprise. Though, I’ve found when an idea is really good it’s no longer your idea. The idea belongs to the collaborators. In fact, the idea felt like it belonged to the comedy industry. Comics do nutty things all the time at the festival. Sometimes it’s a 24-hour show, sometimes mad benefit gigs, but sometimes an idea really captures the Zeitgeist. Comedians are very adept at smelling bs – by which I mean sensing when we’re being fobbed off – so it was important to us that the readings were a simple, non-political, people-powered, public service.

Your stand-up isn’t particularly political or agenda-based, though.

Well yes and no. I’m not party political if that’s what you mean. I have no party political agenda. But I’ll talk about what’s going on around us trying to contribute to the discourse… in fact that’s what the show should have been called: ‘Schmuck Talks About What’s Going On Around Him Trying To Contribute To The Discourse’.

You’ve just been cast in The Nutcracker with Morgan Freeman and Keira Knightley. How is that going to feel filming and then showing up at a theatre to do stand up?

Am I? What are you my agent? News travels fast! (Laughs) You’d think it’d be weird but it has never phased me. Once in Barnet years ago I was late so didn’t change and came straight to the theatre from the set of The Mummy at Shepperton Studios and walked straight on stage in my film costume. I went on stage in full 1930s Egyptian prison warden garb. I even heard a crowd member say “well at least he’s making an effort.”

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Omid Dalili is at the Wyvern Theatre on Sun 22 January.

For more information and to buy tickets please visit: http://bit.ly/OmidDjalili17

Follow Omid Djalili on Twitter and YouTube.

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