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Tez Ilyas: Teztify

  • Comedy, Stand-up
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Time Out says

Serious and silly stand-up from this Radio 4 star – a powerful show

Serious and silly. That’s what Tez Ilyas strives for in his solo shows. The Lancashire-born comic has been using stand-up to challenge assumptions about British Muslims since his first solo show, ‘TEZ Talks’ in 2015 and his latest offering, ‘Teztify’, is his most powerful hour yet. But while it does tackle important issues, the show’s also big on laughs and playfully cheeky. 

‘There’s no reason why I can’t talk about “Punish A Muslim Day” in one breath and cheeseboards in the next,’ says the 35-year-old stand-up. ‘I love playing with audiences expectations and emotions. That moment when an audience member’s face is in complete shock and then breaks out into a laugh – I live for that.’

‘Teztify’ opens with a montage of news coverage about Islamophobia, which is then immediately punctured by a frivolous gag. There’s a point to the shifts in tone. ‘I wanted people to laugh at the absurdity of some of the things I go through as a young-ish British Muslim,’ explains Ilyas, ‘and I think subversive humour is a really good way of doing that.’

Indeed, with the recent rise in religious and racial hate crime and the US president banning travelers from predominantly Muslim countries, it feels like a more important time than ever to highlight these absurdities. But these issues have been ‘bubbling up over the last decade,’ says Ilyas. ‘I think I was one of the few people unsurprised by Brexit or Trump. It’s really good for people to know what I’m going through sometimes. If we all understood each other’s experiences better, we’d live in a nicer, more empathetic world.’ Ben Williams

Written by
Ben Williams

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