Comedian Tez Ilyas on coming to the UAE with The Laughter Factory

You can see the comic on stage this month

Comedian Tez Ilyas on coming to the UAE with The  Laughter Factory

While a day job at the UK’s civil service might not seem to be the most likely jumping point for a successful career in comedy, that’s exactly where Tez Ilyas started.

The stand-up comic and TV star was working in a nine-to-five job in London when he decided to do a creative writing course. He ended up doing a stand-up workshop instead and the rest, as they say, is history.

It was back in 2010 when Ilyas took the workshop, but it paved the way for his flourishing career. “I really enjoyed it,” he says. “And before long I’d built up a reputation as someone to look out for.” His debut solo show Tez Talks (based around TED Talks) was well received and in 2016 he finally quit his day job. “I started at the Civil Service in 2006, and almost ten years to the day later, I gave it up.”

Born in Blackburn, Lancashire, his Pakistani, Muslim heritage and working class roots play a big part in his comedy, which touches on misconceptions about his religion.

“My comedy is really accessible,” he adds. “It’s all about my life – family, politics. If I’ve experienced it, I talk about it.

“It’s a bit mad thinking where I am now. I grew up in a very working class community. It’s a job, it’s still hard work, but having spent a long time in another career it makes me appreciate this even more.”

Away from the stage, Ilyas has had his own comedy short on Sky TV and appeared on BBC in a few different shows, including as a regular character on BBC Three’s successful Man Like Mobeen before landing his own satirical news and sketch show The Tez O’Clock Show.

“When the World Cup was on in 2018 and England were in a penalty shootout, I was on Mock The Week,” he says. “We took a break to watch it and I was sitting with all these big stars thinking back to the 1998 tournament when I was at home as a teenager.

“It’s all a bit mad that I’m on TV now but I’m pleased it’s going well.”

Ilyas picks out comedians such as Stewart Lee and Chris Morris as inspirations, but also more mainstream acts such as Victoria Wood and Peter Kay and US megastars including Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, and you can see bits of many of them in his own work.

The Laughter Factory tour won’t be the comedian’s first visit to the UAE, having good friends in Dubai and Abu Dhabi that he’s visited regularly, but it will be his first appearance on stage.

“I’ve been coming over for about ten years and I think it’s great. I’m really excited to perform, but it will be a bit weird knowing that my friends will be in the audience this time.”

We’re sure his pals will be just as excited to see him take to the stage at venues including Movenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach (February 6), Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens (Feburary 7), Park Rotana Abu Dhabi (February 12), Grand Millennium, Barsha Heights (February 13) and Dukes The Palm, Dubai (February 14). 

Also on the bill this month are BBC New Comedy Awards semi-finalist Karen Bayley and Canadian comic Chris Betts.

Prepare to split your sides.
Dhs160. Various locations, Feb 6-14, www.thelaughterfactory.com (050 878 6728).

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