Tez Ilyas: Made in Britain

Tez Ilyas’ new show Made in Britain is not subtle. And in his defence it can’t be. Explaining what it is like to grow up as a British Muslim, or a British National Pakistani (BNP for short), is far from straightforward. There is a minefield of challenging subjects to relay, namely terrorism, ISIS, xenophobia – and that’s just the external preconceptions, forget the expectations of growing up in a Muslim family.

Tez may don the appearance of a work experience lad who’s forgotten his way to the office, clad in a grey suit, white shirt, tie and Converse sneakers, but this is no lost boy.

Tez’s easygoing manner and his unthreatening Blackburn accent is what helps him to broach some hard-hitting points, tackling race in a way that has the possibility to make some people wince. Topics span everything from approaching the n-word, the p-word, even asking an audience member what they think of ISIS on a scale of one to ten, one being not a fan to ten as willing to hear what they have to say, is both smart and effective.

Going on to discuss his name, which is actually Tehzeeb, referring to it as a tricky round of Scrabble is observational comedy at its best. However moments of unabashed social commentary is teamed with some slightly crass lines such as his Tinder material, claiming to have initially signed up to “smash puss” only to meet the love of his life, is amusing yet predictable.

Tez’s use of the ultra British song Blur’s Parklife was effectively re-arranged to produce a song called Paklife which the comedian used to reveal some issues facing British Pakistanis, such as when his cousin telling a teacher she lived in a “terraced” house was mistaken for “terrorist” house, ended up in a visit from the police.

He also formatted his failed arranged marriage into a game show, called Who’s Wife is it Anyway, adding an element of audience participation which helped to pick up the pace right at the end of the show.

Tez may don the appearance of a work experience lad who’s forgotten his way to the office, clad in a grey suit, white shirt, tie and Converse sneakers, but this is no lost boy. He proudly ended on a monologue documenting some of the contributions Pakistanis have made to British society, including a tongue-in-cheek line about driving inebriates home in taxis and fronting the NHS with doctors, adding that being British is as indicative to his identity as his heritage. Tez said of race that it isn’t a topic people like to talk about, “but sometimes needs to take place”. And I can only agree.

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Performances

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The Blurb

Last year Tez Ilyas experienced something that turned his world upside down. In this hotly anticipated follow up to his 2015 smash hit debut, TEZ Talks, this smart and subversive rising star is back with another bold and deeply personal show. As seen on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, ITV2, Channel 4, E4, Sky Arts and star of BBC Radio 4. 'Sharp, timely satire, delivered with a cheekily winning smile' (Independent). ***** (Mirror). ***** (Daily Record). **** (Sunday Times). **** (FringeGuru.com). **** (Herald). **** (Skinny). **** (BroadwayBaby.com).

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