TEZ ILYAS: TEZTIFY
Wow, what a performance. Tez Ilyas isn’t your normal run of comedian, if there is such a thing nowadays. This show is superficially about his life as a Northern English working–class Muslim; it has pictures of his family, in particular his cute little nephew, and heartwarming footage and anecdotage thereof. But this is no way the sugary sentimentality it might seem to portend; Ilyas takes apart very serious issues of islamophobia, and wider injustices too, without ever descending into earnest tub-thumping, self-pity, or preachiness. For instance, his dissection of an appalling Nazi-style hate sheet, which was posted through the doors of innocent Muslims, is laugh-out-loud witty, pointing up the hilarity of the stupidity underneath the vileness. This is his genius: to oppose viciousness with humanity, and what’s more humane than having a laugh? The show is meticulously put together, timed to the fraction of a second, and the gags are unfailingly on target and hilarious; with frequent wrong-footing of audience expectations right to its glorious conclusion.
Deeply satisfying, hugely clever stuff, with real steel and incisive thought under his warm-hearted and inclusive approach. Brilliant.
John Christopher Wood