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Comedian Tez Ilyas is bringing his Vicked tour to Cambridge

Described by The Guardian as “Blackburn’s Chris Rock”, Tez Ilyas – a rising star on the comedy circuit – was nominated for Club Comedian of the Year at this year’s Chortle Awards.

Comedian Tez Ilyas. Picture: Yoshitaka Kono
Comedian Tez Ilyas. Picture: Yoshitaka Kono

As well as delivering his politically astute stand-up, Tez is one of the stars of the BBC Three sitcom Man Like Mobeen and has also appeared on a host of panel shows, including Mock the Week and The Last Leg, as well as fronting his own cult-hit satirical series The Tez O’Clock Show on Channel 4.

The 38-year-old cites the likes of Jack Dee, Stewart Lee, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, and Sarah Millican as major influences and earlier this year published his first book The Secret Diary of a British Muslim Aged 13 ¾. Now he’s bringing his new stand-up show The Vicked Tour to Cambridge.

Tez has been doing some club gigs as a warm-up for the tour, in order to ‘test out’ the material, noting that it feels good to be back, despite the large amount of travelling involved.

Comedian Tez Ilyas. Picture: Yoshitaka Kono
Comedian Tez Ilyas. Picture: Yoshitaka Kono

“The point of doing these previews is to test what works, rewriting things, writing new things, and then just trying to have the best show possible for when the tour starts,” he tells the Cambridge Independent.

So has Tez had to make many changes to the show? “Well the tour was meant to be last year, but we went into lockdown in March and really, to be honest, I didn’t have much ready so I kind of needed to start again anyway.

“I had three years worth of material built up, because that was the last time I wrote a show, so I was able to dive into that and see what would work. There’s obviously some stuff about the last 18 months as well.

“It’s slightly exaggerated but a lot of it is about how I’m a grumpy sod... Am I grumpy because I’m getting older, or am I grumpy just because that’s who I am? Then I talk about a lot of things that make me grumpy.”

Such as? “So there’s all this good stuff happening in the world, as in good causes that people are marching for – stuff like Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March and Free Palestine – and then I talk about how next to that, you have these people who look at those things and think, ‘Oh, well maybe I’m not directly affected by those things but I love the attention that those causes get’.

“So people kind of try and make their own trivial things really, really important – and those things annoy me. For example, there was a BBC News article and the title of this article was ‘Why aren’t there more BAME skiers and snowboarders?’ And I just thought, ‘Why does that need addressing?’

Comedian Tez Ilyas. Picture: Yoshitaka Kono
Comedian Tez Ilyas. Picture: Yoshitaka Kono

“That’s just one example, but I think there’s a lot of that happening in the world about a lot of different things... There’s a lot of people bored at home and a lot more scrutiny about things that they may be consuming. A lot more people are reading the internet and the internet is reinforcing their opinions or giving them confidence to explore other things.”

It has not been a straightforward rise to prominence for Tez, who last year admitted to “unacceptable behaviour” towards women in the past. He issued an apology for being “part of the problem” and has undergone therapy.

Tez will spend the first half of the show doing “crowd work”, where he works with the audience and improvises, before embarking on the scripted part of the show in the second half. But don’t worry if he picks you out in the crowd – Tez says he’s no Frankie Boyle.

“No, I’m what you’d describe as ‘cheeky’... I’m not out to hurt anyone’s feelings – not that Frankie is either,” he says. “I really enjoy it, and the crowd enjoy it as well. Because I’m quite cheeky, I kind of get away with it – it might be these dulcet Lancashire tones, I don’t know.”

Tez Ilyas tour dates
Tez Ilyas tour dates

Tez Ilyas will be performing at The Junction (J2) on Saturday, September 18. Visit junction.co.uk. For more on Tez, go to tezilyas.com.

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