Talking Travel: Shazia Mirza

The co­me­dian and writer talks to An­gela Sara West about her rib-tick­ling trav­els and go­ing back to ba­sics for Chan­nel 4’s Celebrity Is­land with Bear Grylls

The Business Travel Magazine - - Contents -

Known for her dead­pan de­liv­ery and push­ing boundaries on stage, Shazia Mirza has de­liv­ered sharp one-lin­ers all over the world.

Re­cent trav­els have taken her to Turkey, Los An­ge­les, Pak­istan and Switzer­land, while next up are Paris, Ire­land and Swe­den.

“I travel all the time – ev­ery day, re­ally, ei­ther up the M1 or on a plane abroad,” says Mirza. “It’s a priv­i­lege to go to a dif­fer­ent place ev­ery night and not know where I'm go­ing. It al­ways feels like an ad­ven­ture.”

The Brum­mie funny girl has com­i­cal tales from the City of An­gels. “In LA, they think I'm Mex­i­can and peo­ple come up to me talking in Span­ish. They get very con­fused when I speak with an English ac­cent.”

The trail­blaz­ing en­ter­tainer’s favourite des­ti­na­tions in­clude Nor­way and Den­mark and, in the US, she’s a fan of San Fran­cisco.

“I love per­form­ing in the city. It’s a great place to do stand-up. It's in­ter­est­ing to do com­edy in the States at this time in the world. There's so much to say to the Amer­i­cans, al­though they prob­a­bly don't want to hear it from me. I still have to ex­plain to them what Brexit is, and why we did it.”

Mirza rec­om­mends Mex­ico for cul­ture and a warm wel­come. “It also has great beaches, as does the south of France. I re­cently stayed at L’hô­tel Her­mitage Monte-carlo whilst film­ing a TV show – that was an ex­pe­ri­ence. But I also love Saint-jean-capFer­rat’s kitsch and dated two-star ho­tel, L'oursin. It’s a bit like Fawlty Tow­ers!”

Af­ter the glitz and glam­our of the Côte d'azur, be­ing aban­doned on a re­mote is­land in the Pa­cific by Bear Grylls last year proved no laugh­ing mat­ter for Mirza. “It was ten times worse than what you saw on TV. But I re­alised that you don't know how strong you are un­til be­ing strong is the only op­tion. It’s a test of men­tal strength, but there were times where you just had to stop think­ing and get on with things.”

Driven by des­per­a­tion, de­ter­mined Mirza be­came the group’s war­rior. She not only found wa­ter and nav­i­gated a jun­gle, but was the one bring­ing home food for the camp. De­fy­ing strong cur­rents, Mirza’s strong swim­ming saw her ex­cel at fish­ing.

No-one, it seems, was amused in such an un­for­giv­ing place. “On the is­land, there was no laugh­ter – we didn't laugh once. It was strange. We were strug­gling all the time. Be­ing alone with your thoughts at night for such long pe­ri­ods of time was hard, like be­ing in soli­tary con­fine­ment.”

Af­ter a month of de­hy­dra­tion, star­va­tion and be­ing dashed against rocks (caus­ing her to fall un­con­scious), Mirza was one of the fi­nal six stranded con­tes­tants who sur­vived to the end. What did she learn about her­self? “Once you've sur­vived 'The Is­land', you can do any­thing in life,” she says.

The com­edy queen’s trav­els and gru­elling is­land ex­pe­ri­ence have served as a source of in­spi­ra­tion for ma­te­rial for her sell-out shows. “Ev­ery­thing I see and hear could end up in a show, as that's where most of my ma­te­rial comes from. On Celebrity Is­land, we saw how the en­vi­ron­ment – earth, land and sea – is such a beau­ti­ful place be­ing ru­ined by hu­mans. The amount of plas­tic we found on those beaches was hor­rific. It’s very sad. I love the sea and swam for hours ev­ery day. It’s beau­ti­ful and calm­ing.”

Catch­ing many flights a year, Mirza is a fan of Emi­rates and Nor­we­gian and of­fers a sin­gle travel tip: “Al­ways listen to other peo­ple's con­ver­sa­tions.”

When she has time off she heads home for some rare R&R. “Nowhere beats my mum's house in Birm­ing­ham,” she says. “I sleep in the same room as I did as a teenager and my mum makes me food all day. That is the best hol­i­day. I love vis­it­ing my roots in Pak­istan, too.”

Trav­el­ling has taught Mirza much about peo­ple, along with an un­der­stand­ing of other cul­tures. “Trav­el­ling’s given me so much in life. It’s helped me to be­come more tol­er­ant. You learn things when trav­el­ling that you could never learn from a book.

“Get­ting on an aero­plane and be­ing up in the sky above the clouds for a few hours, end­ing up on the other side of the world, is a mir­a­cle. I never take for granted what an ex­cit­ing thing that is.”

She con­tin­ues: “There’s noth­ing more ex­cit­ing than wak­ing up in a strange ho­tel in a dif­fer­ent place, in a coun­try you've never been to be­fore. You look out of the win­dow into the un­known. The mys­tery of life is a such a gift.”

There's noth­ing more ex­cit­ing than wak­ing up in a strange ho­tel in a dif­fer­ent place, in a coun­try you've never been to be­fore"

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