Interview with Tez Ilyas

In the run up to Voice's latest coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, we have dozens of interviews with performers like the BBC's Tez Ilyas, who we'll be seeing up there.

Interview with Tez Ilyas

Firstly, could you introduce yourself, and give a quick summary of your show?

Hi, I'm Tez Ilyas, a stand-up comedian. My show Made in Britain is an autobiographical stand-up show in which I let the audience know about how I've become the person I am and also about the non-typically British experiences I have lived through in Britain.

What is your earliest arts memory?

I think I remember there being a local concert in Blackburn when I was about five. My mum took me to Bangor Street Community Centre where a travelling Pakistani performer was in attendance. I remember being pretty bored to be honest, I just wanted to go out and play on the bouncy castle.

What first encouraged you to become a performer?

You know I have zero background in the performing arts, I haven't even done drama since I was 14. I just decided to give stand-up a go in my mid-twenties, largely because the opportunity presented itself through a stand-up workshop I happened upon online and because my friend's always told me I was funny. That was enough for me to give it a go and I haven't looked back since.

Do you remember your first professional performance, and how did it go?

My first stand-up performance was a showcase for family and friends at the end of the stand-up workshop I attended. As far as I can remember it went pretty well. I was really happy that people laughed in the right places and it's what encouraged me to actually pursue it.

What do you feel is the best thing about your job?

No doubt it's the buzz I get that people are appreciating original content that I have created, produced and performed. There's nothing like it.

Conversely, what is the worst?

We all have bad/dud gigs. No matter what stage of our careers we're at. Also writer's block is a shitter. I can sometimes go weeks without writing anything remotely funny and eventually you begin to think: shit… Maybe I'll never write anything funny again!

86d5c887e01f389574c2ecf2c489c313ccec96f6.jpgHow do you decide whether or not a show has gone well?

An important part of being a solo performer, like a stand-up, is self-awareness. I don't think you can become successful without it and part of being self-aware is knowing when something you've done has worked or not. For me it's getting a great reaction from the crowd and being able to feed of that to elevate my performance. The more people are into it, the more I can be myself on stage and the more I can create something unique and in the moment for the audience.

If you could work with anybody, dead or alive, who would you choose to collaborate with?

Great question. I'm really inspired by great comedy writers and so I'd love the opportunity to work with Chris Morris and Armando Iannuci. I think they're both amazing at what they do and they're people I could learn so much from.

What made you want to come to Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Ed Fringe is the greatest showcase for live comedy in the world. It's basically a expo and it's the best place to be noticed and so it'd be mad to not be here. I love coming here because the crowds are great and because I get to hang out with my friends away from home for a month!

Is performing at EdFringe different from 'traditional' shows?

I think so. Yes. Ed Fringe audiences have a greater proportion of 'comedy fans' and so are not easily pleased. I feel like you have to work harder for their approval. And also because they are watching 4-5 shows a day and can sometimes be tired by the time they watch yours. It all means we have to step-up to ensure they're entertained.

If you could travel back in time and give 16 year-old you one piece of advice, what would it be?

Do not be afraid of trying new things. And talk to girls, it might surprise you to know they'll actually quite like you.

What advice would you give to young people who want to enter the industry?

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.

Do you have social media that our readers can follow you on?

I do. I'm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can find me on all those platforms as @tezilyas.

Where can people catch your show during EdFringe?

I am at the Pleasance Courtyard, everyday (except 15th), at 17.30. See you there.

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