One of Britain’s best-loved comics returns
Multi-award-winning jack-of-all-trades Omid Djalili has been cracking jokes in front of audiences for over two decades. He’s gone from performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to touring the world with his uniquely silly act. He’s hit the big screen with film credits including Gladiator with Russell Crowe, and most recently starred in a hit musical. Still, the stand-up stage remains Djalili natural habitat, and his latest show, Schmuck For A Night, sees him returning to Dubai once again.
Stand-up comedian, actor, presenting, etc – where do you feel most at home?
I loved doing Fiddler On The Roof this summer in the UK, and I loved doing my 110-date tour. But I have to say I have always felt most at home when I’m in bed or in an all-you-can-eat buffet. When I find a way to combine these, I’m never leaving the house.
Does it feel good to be coming back to comedy after playing Tevye in
Fiddler On The Roof? Yes it does. We worked hard to make Fiddler On The Roof authentic and funny and touching and all those things you want a great musical to be. But it’s a relief going back to stand up.
What influences your shows now?
I’ve been watching myself a lot recently whilst editing my last show, Iranalamadingdong, which I hope to release as a download. So I have to say my biggest influence is me watching myself – as I make mistake after mistake. Hopefully you can learn from your mistakes.
Does your show change much from gig to gig?
The show is always changing wherever I am, so I’ll be writing up until the last minute. That’s inevitable doing comedy in today’s sociopolitical climate.
You once said “funny first, politics second”. How much does politics feature in your act?
It’s there but I’m not hammering people over the head with it. Put it this way, I’ll touch on stuff, but not enough to get me rolling on stage with a lectern to present an award at the Emmys.
Do you think the current state of politics is beyond parody?
Seriously, some things you could not make up. When Spicer was Trump’s press secretary and he ended up speaking up for Adolf Hitler, it was almost as if a sketch writer from Saturday Night Live had written it.
You’ve had an extensive career thus far. What’s the highlight?
I was on the BBC One programme in London promoting my England World Cup song in 2014. They thought it would be funny if I took a penalty against a robotic goalkeeper who had a 100 per cent record of saving penalties. Even Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo hadn’t managed to score. Amazingly, I scored and the clip went viral. Robokeeper was subsequently decommissioned, which was a bit of an insult as they must have thought: “If a fat bloke can score against it there’s got to be something very wrong. Scrap it!”
What would you like to do next?
Well, this answer is a no-brainer: I’m going to get Emirati citizenship and be in the national football team of the UAE. Yalla! Case closed!