Omid Djalili: 'It was wrong for people to celebrate Bin Laden's death'
Sunday 22 May 2011
Stand-up gets much harder as you become older You become more conscious of how great an art it is and more embarrassed about what you've done in the past. I actually used to finish off my show by saying, "Thank you very much, you've been a great audience, but I really was tremendously funny," but looking back on it, I don't think [my work] was that funny or had that much artistic merit. As you lose that self-belief, you make it more difficult for yourself but you also become a better comedian.
Comedy is becoming too cruel I don't want to mention any names, but some comedians are being lauded for going to "dark" places as if that somehow has artistic merit [in itself]. Dark humour, if it's making a point, is brilliant, but there's a lot of puerile humour that's just dark and cruel for its own sake.
I've never consciously tried to be controversial I joked about suicide bombing because I thought it was ridiculous and it should be made fun of; I didn't realise what a hot potato it was for a Western audience. I was very surprised when people said, "You're so edgy." I'm about as edgy as the Chuckle Brothers.
Being seen as a spokesperson for the Middle East is both a gift and a curse Someone said to me recently, "Do you see yourself as a bridge between the East and the West" and I said, "Yes, but it's time I started charging a toll." Every time something happens in the Middle East, my phone goes off with radio stations wanting to ask my opinion, but I don't always want to give it and it's probably not always seemly either.
It was wrong for people to celebrate Bin Laden's death It just shows what an unevolved society we are. I saw lots of people on Twitter saying, "I hope this is closure for all the people who were killed in New York," but we don't even know for sure it was Bin Laden. For me, the killing is an outrage, and I'd rather have seen him on trial. I'd love to see the Pakistanis going into America demanding to kill their terrorist and the Americans saying, "Bush, he's in Texas, you're welcome to him."
I couldn't care less whether 'Sex and the City 2' was disappointing I got to spend a week with the four girls and it was wonderful. It was a shame they cut one of my scenes that would have got them out of hot water [the film was accused of perpetuating Middle Eastern stereotypes]: it involved me, Miranda and Samantha and it made such a clever, subtle point about there being more sexism in America than in the Middle East. I asked someone why they cut it and they said, "Honey, we had Prada and DKNY to get in."
I don't think I'm a sellout for doing the money supermarket ads But it does annoy me that I always get mistaken for the singer bloke in the Go Compare ads because of the price-comparison thing: people have said to me, "You're so bloody irritating," and I've had to say, "That's not me." The reason I did it is because the whole idea behind price-comparison websites is to help the economy and to force companies to bring their prices down. Bill Hicks said, "If you do a commercial you're off the artistic roll call," but in this case, you're not actually selling anything: the website is free, so you're not really advertising, you're just helping people.
My greatest ambition is to wake up every morning and not crave a full English breakfast I've been carrying all this weight for years and I'm always bloody dieting, but I'm just so hungry all the time. I do think I look and feel better when I've lost a few pounds, but then I also feel great when a burger's being shoved down my throat.
Omid Djalili is a British stand-up comedian of Iranian parentage. He will be touring the UK with a new show, 'Tour of Duty', from October 2011 to February 2012. See boundandgaggedcomedy.com for dates
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