WHATEVER you think of Omid Djalili’s effectiveness as a comedian his charisma hasn’t gone unnoticed by casting directors.
Since he last hit the road he has starred as Fagin in the West End production of Oliver, a US sitcom for NBC, Howard Marks’ film Mr Nice and David Baddiel’s movie The Infidel.
A deep thinker about comedy, he has looked to perhaps unlikely sources for the structure of the new touring show.
“It’s based on an Eleanor Roosevelt quote about the different levels of thinking. She said, ‘Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, and small minds only talk about other people’.
“In stand-up, you do all those things. Once you have set up the concept that great minds think about ideas, then you can say things like, ‘Doesn’t Ed Milliband look like Wallace from Wallace and Grommit?’”
Omid has equally wise things to say about the Middle East, not least in the wake of the seismic changes that have gripped the region during the so-called Arab Spring.
“People are taking charge, governments can’t get away with it any more. - or at least I hope not. ”
Getting your audience to think is one thing, but the natural showman in him feels duty bound to send the people home with a warm glow.
“It’s always important to ask yourself ‘What should the audience feel at the end?’. That’s the showbiz in me talking.
“When I first saw stand up comedy, watching a bloke in jeans and a T-shirt at the Comedy Store standing at the mic and talking, I used to think ‘Oh for God’s sake do something! Dance, move around a little, change the lighting, use music, do a few accents, change the pace, sing, wear a dress’.
“There was nothing wrong with stand-up and it’s a noble art form, but I noticed every time I watched stand up my sense of art and creativity was outraged.
“I suppose it’s just following traditions like a ceilidh or shows in the Middle East that always end in a song or dance, but leave the audience with something, anything. I’d shoot a cat out of my back side every night if I could make it work in the budget.
“Everyone has problems, but for 90 minutes it’s good to have a laugh and forget it for a while.
“Or put it into a context, that context being I’m struggling a little less than you are and collectively you should all come together and be happy for me. I’d like the audience to come and give thanks at the altar of the fat one.”