'Expect the shocking truth'.
That’s UK-based comedienne of Pakistani-origin Shazia Mirza’s fair warning to all Bangaloreans curious about what to expect from at this British Asian woman’s stand-up act happening at the Kingfisher Comedy Night in the city, later this week
Q: You’ve been performing for quite some time now. But do you still have people who come to your show because they are intrigued watching a funny Pakistani woman?
A: I’m not sure people come because they are intrigued about watching a funny Pakistani woman; I think some just come because they either want to kill me or try and get into my knickers. Some people mistake the word ‘comedian’ for lap dancer. They are always disappointed when they realise just how unsexy I am.
In the UK and Europe, now, people just come to see me. In places like India Pakistan there might be some intrigue as to why there is a funny Pakistani woman on the loose. God knows what it would be like if they heard about me in Afghanistan.
Q: When was the first time you stood up in front of a crowd as a stand up?
A: I became a comedian by accident. I was a science teacher previously, and the kids were so unruly that the only way I could control them was by making them laugh. I was interested in writing comedy, but I never thought I would perform it. The first gig I ever did was at a rough pub in Brixton London; there was no microphone, no stage no seats and someone was getting arrested outside. I stood there in the middle of this room and people started laughing
Q: Was breaking family convention to do what you are doing tough?
A: It’s not just family convention, it’s cultural, community and gender-related as well. I always wanted to be on the stage since I was a child, I wanted to be an actress, but I also loved making people laugh. I never thought I would be a comedian, but I am glad that I am.
Q: Coming to the process of writing the material — are you someone who spends time writing the lines out or do you just jot down thoughts and go with the flow on stage?
A: I always know what I’m going to say on stage. I think through topics and ideas and spend time trying to make them funny. I have to have passion about what I’m saying. If I don’t find it funny, neither will the audience.
Q: Performing a monologue as part of V Day along with Isabella Rosselini, Danii Minogue, Meera Syal must have been some experience. How did that opportunity come about?
A: It was an amazing show. Eve Ensler who wrote The Vagina Monologues heard about me and asked if I would write a funny piece for the Monologues. I performed it at The Royal Albert Hall. I have since worked with Eve many times since in New York, doing an all female comedy show called Offensive Women, which she produced. I have since worked with Meera for the BBC on a couple of shows.
Q: Other than writing and making people laugh for a living, what else keeps you busy?
A: I would love to say sex, drugs, and rock and roll. But it’s actually cleaning, sleeping, and sending emails. Sad and boring really.
Q: And finally, what is the one thing that Bangaloreans should be prepared to hear when they come to watch you?
A: The shocking truth.