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Green Light in the City

Comedian Shazia Mirza Talks Her Upcoming Tour Coconut

18 October 21 interview: Lizzy O'Riordan
photos: Idil Sukan

After a year in lockdown, Shazia Mirza is back in Nottingham with her new show Coconut. We chat to her about Bear Grylls’ The Island, crying in Poundland, and what she’s most excited about for her tour.

How are you? Tell us a little about what you’ve been up to lately.

I’m alive. Since lockdown ended, I’ve been trying to lose weight. It’s all the donuts I was eating at four o’clock in the morning for the past fourteen months.

You’re going to be in Nottingham in October for your show Coconut – can you tell us about how this was inspired by your time on Bear Grylls The Island?

It’s about many things, but the backbone of the show is about strength and survival. It’s about how I survived starving to death on The Island, and the struggles between men and women, and the loyalty we should have to people who are like us. 

In your show you explore what it means to be a strong woman…

I am always referred to as a strong woman. I don’t know what this means? These people obviously didn’t see me crying in Poundland last week when they’d run out of my favourite toothpaste. I rarely feel strong, I always feel like I’m struggling to survive.

Your comedy is often described as ‘brave’ – what do you make of this description?

I haven’t saved anyone’s life. I haven’t climbed Mount Everest. The bravest thing I’ve done is skied in Chamonix which was lovely but not brave. Comedy should entertain people, make them laugh, make them happy, and yes - you can talk about anything that comes from that, but for me that is not the driving force. Normally people go to comedy to have a good time, and get away from their stressful lives, I try not to get too serious.

I am always referred to as a strong woman. I don’t know what this means? These people obviously didn’t see me crying in Poundland last week when they’d run out of my favourite toothpaste

What do you want to do with your comedy?

I want to be the best that I can be, the funniest, cleverest and most unique that I can be. I want people to have a good time, and laugh.

Do you remember when you first wanted to get into comedy?

I never wanted to get into comedy. It was all an accident. I had written some funny material and wanted to try it out, so I did a gig. Before then I had never been inside a comedy club in my life, and I certainly didn’t think I’d be doing it for ever. But I’m glad I do it, I love it. 

Who were your biggest comedy influences? 

 Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, George Carlin. The originals.

Which current comedians make you laugh the most?

 I like Kevin Bridges, and Jamali Maddix.

What are you most excited to talk about on your tour? 

I am excited to tell stories about things that have happened to me, things I’ve never told anyone but I’ve managed to make funny. That’s the most exciting thing in comedy, that I am able to do that.

How does it feel to be back out on the road after so long in lockdown? 

I think, Can I still do this? Am I good enough? Am I funny? Was I ever even remotely funny? I just hope it will all come back to me like nothing ever happened.

Anything else you’d like to say to LeftLion readers?

Come to the show. I need to make eye contact with people in my underwear. It’s about time. 

Coconut is coming to The Glee Club on Sunday 31 October. Tickets available here

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