Comic Who Can Strike Fear into the Hearts of Movie Directors; Paddy Hoey Talks to Omid Djalili, the Renaissance Man of the Comedy Circuit and All-Round Nice Guy

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), February 15, 2002 | Go to article overview

Comic Who Can Strike Fear into the Hearts of Movie Directors; Paddy Hoey Talks to Omid Djalili, the Renaissance Man of the Comedy Circuit and All-Round Nice Guy


Byline: Paddy Hoey

OMID Djalili is an Arab scumbag: It's a fact.

But don't point an accusing finger at me, that's the belief of the man himself.

After years of hard graft on the stand-up circuit, which takes him to the Neptune Theatre on Monday, February 25, he's now among the first names bigshot Hollywood casting directors call when they want an Arab scumbag/terrorist for their big screen features.

The film buffs out there will remember Omid fighting with Brendan Fraser in The Mummy, appearing alongside the can't- geta-date-ugly-brothers Robert Redford and Brad Pitt in Spygame and having his genitalia squeezed by arch lush Oliver Reed in smash hit Russell Crowe fight-athon Gladiator.

He's also been one of those rentafunnyperson panellists on Have I Got News for You? and They Think It's All Over and an award-winning documentary maker for Bloody Foreigners, his investigation into asylum seekers in Britain.

But it is as Hoss the caff owner in late night Channel 4 comedy Small Potatoes and as a stand-up for which Djalili should be most appreciated.

In the aforementioned Small Potatoes he starred with Perrier award-winning comic Tommy Tiernan in a slacker comedy which rivals anything those big headed Yanks produce.

How good was it? Seinfeld, not a patch on it, Frasier, different league mate, Friends, don't make me laugh.

Small Potatoes is a minor masterpiece, lost as a cult classic in a late night slot reserved for dope smoking student wasters and parents with screaming infants.

He's also one of the funniest comedians on the circuit.

Born 37 years ago to Iranian parents in London, Omid's stand-up is a mix of fast paced physical humour with a cutting political edge, honed from being both British and Arab.

And since the events of September 11, his look at identity and race is refreshing and vital in equal measures.

But he isn't preaching, he wants to inform and ultimately make you laugh your drawers off.

He says: "My agenda is to educate and elevate, and that's the most difficult thing to do.

"I'm not an intellectual stand-up, I do material on Tony Blair and September 11, but in between I will do impressions of Godzilla having his toes stepped on and Indian Bingo Callers.

"But the main thing is when I'm talking about ethnic comedy - I am talking about the culture clash but I am also trying to give them a rollicking good night out. …

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Comic Who Can Strike Fear into the Hearts of Movie Directors; Paddy Hoey Talks to Omid Djalili, the Renaissance Man of the Comedy Circuit and All-Round Nice Guy
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