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From diving to comedy, Omid Djalili hopes to make a Splash at Fairfield Halls

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Stand-up comic and TV star Omid Djalili is coming to Croydon as part of his latest tour. Here, James Rampton talks to the funnyman about audiences, relationships and his appearance on Splash!...

Is stand-up your first love?

I've done lots of different things and enjoyed them but stand-up, when it goes well – it often doesn't – is definitely a love. There's something deeply satisfying about a good gig.

I'm not often happy with myself as an actor. I get upset when I see myself acting on screen, mostly because of the way I look.

But as a stand-up it's always a bonus if you look heavy or awkward or damaged…in my case it helps in fact.

Do you feel fired up on stage?

Not really fired up, but sometimes I am genuinely upset when a show is over. I would love to go on all night… in a way I understand Ken Dodd who famously starts at 8pm and sometimes finishes at 2am. My problem is I just don't have the material.

So I usually just take the feeling of loss and disappointment off with me when I say goodnight and drive home alone in the dark thinking of the good times and how I can say more next time and say it better.

Is your relationship with the audience important?

Most comedians are sensitive to audience reaction. Generally speaking, comics like people. Stand-up is basically one person talking to many people.

If you're not too nervous about speaking and saying what's on your mind in a one on one then that openness is what you need on stage. It's important not to be too hung up about what people think of you. Finding a comedy voice can take years though.

What themes will you be addressing in the new show?

Growing older. We all struggle with it. As Dave Allen once said, 'I enjoy getting older. I have to because there's no choice'.

When you hit your forties you understand life better, but at the same time your body is more prone to fail. So you have to find a way of joining your received wisdom with physical prowess.

A lot of men who hit 40 try to do things that make them feel more alive because they want to prove themselves.

That's why I did Splash! I wanted to do something out of the box, stretch my courage and prove I was still a young man at heart even though my bits were dropping off.

What else will you be discussing?

Relationships. I think I've maybe come to understand the secret to them now.

I know when a woman gets married, she has to learn to forgive her man from day one. Because men are idiots.

You also address the subject of celebrity in this show…

Yes. I talk about the fact that when you become a celebrity, or in fact in any line of work where you feel you are important, there is a period when you become an arse. It happens to everyone.

You start believing your own hype and behave foolishly. A more eloquent way would be to describe it as becoming "a plaything of the ignorant".

Am I right your act has become less overly political these days?

I don't feel the same pressure to talk about things in the news any more. On Twitter, comics feel they constantly have to comment on things that are trending and put their oar in.

But nowadays if everyone is talking about fracking I'll just talk about Peters and Lee (1970's singing duo).

Is there such a thing as an archetypal comedian's mentality?

Erm… not really. But most comedians I know do have a filter missing.

They usually 'go for the gag', even if it's at the expense of total social humiliation, but they still do it because they know it'll be great story they can tell later (or even use on stage).

It's almost as if comics need to be loved and talked about more than being respected.

Stories circulate amongst comedians about who did what and when and stories are told with such relish, they almost become myth.

Are you happy with where your career is?

Well… I think in life you have to count your blessings otherwise you'll never be happy.

But I haven't worked out the reason why I'm overweight yet, and I really shouldn't be. It's an issue that takes precedence, so forgive me for not really answering your question.

Omid Djalili's show, Iranalamadingdong, comes to Fairfield Halls on Saturday, October 11, from 7.30pm. Tickets, priced £25, from the box office, 020 8688 9291, or online at www.fairfield.co.uk

From diving to comedy, Omid Djalili hopes to make a Splash at Fairfield Halls


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