Interview with Tez Ilyas

Tez Ilyas takes some time to talk to Voice about the show, inspirations, and to give advice to young people.

Interview with Tez Ilyas

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Hey reader, I'm Tez Ilyas, a stand-up comedian, armchair activist and absent uncle.

How would you describe your show?

In three words: silly, smart and subversive.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

It's the biggest and best arts festival in the world. It's a great place to be seen by comedy fans and the industry, but most importantly, it's just so much fun!

What differentiates it from other festivals?

The sheer scale of it. It's long and has girth. Plus all your mates are there!

Do you think the Fringe has changed over the years? If so, how? Are these changes positive or negative?

Not for me really, I've only been coming for the last five years. I guess Edinburgh has a wider range of places to eat now, I'd say.

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

I honestly fell into this by accident. I've got no drama background and had no ambitions to do this, let alone let it be my career. My inspirations when I first started were Peter Kay, Chris Rock, Russell Peters, Jimmy Carr and Eddie Murphy. Now it's more Stewart Lee, Josie Long and Kevin Hart.

If you didn't have your current job, what would you probably be doing?

Probably still be in the civil service, saving lives and correcting grammar. Each of which is equally important.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

This has to be up there, I love it… Though, if I had the talent, discipline and heart, I'd love to have been an elite professional boxer.

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

That I was rubbish at drawing and I would heckle the school assembly.

Do you ever feel any pressure to be a social commentator, or constantly update material to respond to events?

Yeah, I think because I'm a young(ish) British Muslim, I'm often looked at to provide a comment on current events.

Equally, do you think there has been a shift in public sentiment that has affected your work?

Oh yes. Society is a lot more Islamophobic now, than even seven years ago when I started. It's worrying, but I reflect that in my work.

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

Three hundred sixty five days.

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

Muhammad Ali. For sure. He was so funny and brash and brave and didn't care about niceties to hold onto his principles.

Why would a performer opt to do either a ticketed event or participate in the free fringe? What are the benefits and limitations of both?

Money. It's economics, stupid.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?

Do it. Work hard, practice it to death. Don't half arse it, there's lots of good people who don't get rooms, so if you do, treat it as a privilege and do yourself and your industry justice.

When and where can people see your show?

It's on at 20:30 every day (except 14th) in the Beside at the Pleasance Courtyard.

And where can people find, follow and like you online?

Twitter and instragram: @tezilyas; Facebook: /tezilyas; w:

Tez Ilyas: Teztify is performing at Pleasance Courtyard at 20:30 on 2nd - 27th (not 16th). For tickets and more information visit the Ed Fringe website.


Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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