As a stand-up it’s a bonus to look heavy or awkward

The Infidel
The Infidel

British-born Iranian comic and actor Omid Djalili’s legendary performances on stage and screen have won him plaudits the world over.

Credits include the Fagin in West End smash-hit Oliver!, Dr Rance in Joe Orton’s What The Butler Saw and Mahmud Nasir in The Infidel.

With well over half of the tickets gone for his September comedy gig in Spalding we caught up with him with a few questions.

Q: Is stand-up your first love?

A: Stand-up, when it goes well – is definitely a love. I’m often not happy with myself as an actor on screen, mostly because of the way I look. But as a stand-up it’s a bonus if you look heavy or awkward...in my case it helps in fact.

Q: So you feel at home in the stand-up arena?

A: When I was working with Ray Winstone last summer he told me, ‘I don’t feel I come alive on set until I’ve done a fight scene and thrown my first right hook’. Similarly, I don’t really feel I’ve come to life unless I’ve triggered laughter from a crowd. It’s probably an illness... a comedian’s illness.

Q: What will you be talking about in the new stand up show?

A: Growing older. 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 prone to fail. A lot of men who hit 40 try to do things that make them feel more alive. That’s why I did Splash!

I’m also talking about celebrity, and the fact that in any line of work where people around you are telling you that you are important ... there is a period when you become an arse. You start believing your own hype and behave foolishly. Not many people talk about this ‘arse’ phase but I’m happy to.

I’ll go there. And it’s bad....

Q: Do your recent visits to the U.S. also inform the act?

A: Yes. I love America. But it’s very hard trying to obtain a visa to work in the US. My work visa was delayed so badly I nearly missed my flight. Maybe referencing Pablo Escobar and Osama Bin Laden on the form didn’t help.

Q: Are you happy with where your career is?

A: Well... I think you have to count your blessings otherwise you’ll never be happy. But I haven’t worked out the reason I’m overweight yet, and I really shouldn’t be!

Omid appears live at the South Holland Centre in his new show Iranalamadingdong, on Sunday, September 21.