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Funny Girl: In Conversation with Shazia Mirza

Shazia Mirza knows how to make women- and men- laugh

Life for a comedienne on the road can be tough! But Shazia Mirza knows how to keep her smile on.

Shazia Mirza is a British Columnist and comedienne of Pakistani descent. She has written for various publications such as the Guardian, the Dawn and the New Statesman, was semi-finalist in Last Comedian Standing Season 6 and has travelled with her show all over the world. Some of you may have caught her performing when she was in India, and she was just finishing a show in Oman at the time we asked her for an interview.

Shazia’s comedy refuses to be classified as that of the “immigrant experience”, or  the “female gaze” or “Muslim viewpoint”;  and is just plain funny and in your face. As her biography says:

Shazia could have married a rich man and lived in a mansion on The Bishops Avenue, with servants, bidets, and horses. But instead she chose to drive up and down the country for as little as ten pounds, staying in dirty lurid bed and breakfasts trying to make people laugh.She thought of giving up, but no man wants to marry her, now that’s she’s dabbled in jokes and fingered a few white men on the 38 bus.

She hopes one day to have a cleaner and a jacuzzi.

Here’s what she had to tell us!

What’s life like on the road for a comedienne? Do people expect you to be funny all the time?

Doing the road can get tiring and lonely, but its part of the job and I am so grateful that I have been able to travel all over the world and to some really exciting places doing stand up.
People do expect me to be funny all the time, but the fact is that in real life I am not funny at all, and I don’t get paid to be funny in real life so I don’t try. I make sure I’m funny when I’m working but that’s it.

How is it different for women stand up comediennes from their male counterparts?

Women need extra time to put their make up on, eat cake and cry.
Whereas men need extra time, to shave their chest, fix cars and fight.

What makes you laugh in real life?
My mad parents. Their crazy conversations and warped world. I’d have no material without them.

Do you believe certain topics should be taboo for comedy? What would you never joke about?
I believe that no topics are taboo for comedy. Everything can and should be joked about. From death to disaster, it’s all hilarious.

Who are some of the stand up comics that you really enjoy? Anyone you think is terribly overrated?

I really enjoy Richard Pryor even though he’s been dead 9 years, he was the greatest and hilarious still after all these years. Also I love George Carlin, Louis CK and Woody Allen.

Are there any other comic voices- from literature, from music, from the cinema- that really speak to you?

David Sedaris, Morrissey, Willy Russell

You did a tour of India last year- what was that like, and how were the Indian audience different from those worldwide?

The tour was amazing, I had such a great time. I went to Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune. I love the South of India it is so beautiful and the people are so nice. The Indians are so great. They drink a lot and laugh a lot.

Your favourite crowd to perform to?

Gay men. It’s a non-stop out of control riot.

The worst comic performance you’ve ever given!

I always do my best, but sometimes it doesn’t go well for many reasons. Sometimes the audience don’t get you. I don’t get them. We clash. Then someone just wants to take me hostage. Not a good situation for a comedy show.

The one event from recent news which is just screaming for a good joke

Oscar Pistorious. Or as I like to call him, The White OJ Simpson.

The one person from recent times who is just screaming to be skewered/roasted by a good comedian

Russian President Vladimir Putin, or as I like to call him- ‘A Gay Icon.’

Thanks Shazia- to hear more from her, follow her on Twitter at :@shaziamirza1

Or watch some of her material here:  http://www.shazia-mirza.com/#showreel

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