IMRAN YUSUF: Saint, Sinner, Sufi (5:30pm, The Stand New Town Theatre)
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I was born in Mombasa, my parents were expelled from Uganda and came to Britain as refugees to restart and build a better life. I failed all my GCSEs and was kicked out of two of them but I had a burning passion to make video games and I hustled myself a great job for Midway Games back in 2000 and then bounced around the industry for a few years before becoming a stand-up comedian. I struggled to get ahead as no agent would touch me until a small guy took me on and a year later I was the first person to be nominated for Best Newcomer from the Laughing Horse Free Festival.
Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
My new show is about exploring the schtick I’ve utilised in my career as the comical society’s pariah and learning to own my own faults as I’ve grown up. It’s a coming of middle age show, where the naive idealism of my youth and the bitter truths of life are the polar opposites of the new path I walk now, which is between the two.
How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I’ve been working on this for perhaps a couple of years but really for my whole life because it takes into account my life experiences through which I have developed my thinking, feelings and beliefs. This is a thinking person’s show but with sufficient club-style punchy material and charm to help deal with the emotionally challenging bits.
Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Turn up and do the job to your best ability. Eat well and avoid getting into rubbish conversations that don’t serve your wellbeing or focus. The fringe is a very self-absorbing time, so remember to really love and respect yourself or you’ll very quickly fall prostate before the idol of the false-god of validation.
What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
A guy from Zimbabwe heckled me by giving me a one million dollar note.
Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
I have had many mentors in comedy, from Adam Bloom, the Cutting Edge team at The Store and lately it has been Jeremy Hardy. I admire Jeremy Hardy and Mark Thomas because their comedy is about what they really care about, they are a step up the evolutionary ladder in the world of stand up.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I always do a little prayer and give thanks for the privilege of the quality of my life and my vocation. I always remember that I am not above my craft and I must always be developing myself to remain in the game. When on tour, me and Jason Patterson do a manly hug just before we go on stage.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Gamarjobat – pure amazing unadulterated fun.
Phil Ellis – quite possibly the most naturally funny man I have ever met.
Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the Fringe?
Because not only will you enjoy it, but your life just might change. Also, I am quite handsome.
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