"Apart from being very upset that it happened - a part of me thought: 'Oh no, not this all over again. I don't want to have to deal with this' - I sat down to write something about it and I just felt so tired, tired of terrorism, so pissed off with it. I don't have the heart to do it," says Djalili.
Djalili's perspective is deeper than his stage persona suggests. He was born in London in 1965; his father was a foreign correspondent for an Iranian newspaper. After the revolution in 1979 that brought the Ayatollah Khomeni to power, the family were granted refugee status. On stage, however, Djalili liked to give the impression that he had just arrived: "Keep the laughs coming," he used to say. "It helps with my asylum application."
Now, however, times have changed. "I want to make mainstream Britain accept me as a comedian without the baggage of being Iranian. That's why I am doing this Edinburgh show [No Agenda] this year: to sell out a 700-seat theatre and have people listen to what I want to talk about, and afterwards come out and say 'Oh my God, that's that Iranian guy who talked about September 11 a couple of years ago, and he just talked about middle-class mothers in East Sheen.' The question I am asking is: are we a multicultural society when we can accept this guy on his own merits?"
Edinburgh will allow him to prove something to himself, Djalili hopes: "I really feel I'm going as the ethnic sideshow but will hopefully come out as a proper comedian. To be funny is not enough. A lot of people have the gift to be funny; it's what you do with it that counts."
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