Q&A with comedian Omid Djalili

Q&A with comedian Omid Djalili  by Ben Williams

Award winning comedian and actor Omid Djalili has announced a huge 108-date 2016 and 2017 UK tour of his brand new show Schmuck for a Night, which arrives in Buxton on  November 8, at 8pm.

Omid is known to millions for his roles in Hollywood blockbusters and West End appearances, but he started his career in fringe theatre, moving on to the theatres of Central and Eastern Europe in the early ’90s. Here we find out about his new show and career.

The new show’s called ‘Schmuck for a Night’. Why Schmuck?
I like the word ‘schmuck’. It means ‘fool’ or buffoon. You have to be a schmuck to do comedy in today’s climate.

I found the show mellower than your other tours. Is that fair to say?
I’ve become less frenetic. I used to dance every two minutes in between the stand up. I can’t even remember why. It was mentioned to me that when I danced audiences were laughing at me not with me.

Right. You touch on Brexit, ISIS and Trump in the show. It’s a long tour, will the show change while you’re on the road?
Well, I think the show will change even while I’m on stage. It’ll be so current sometimes audiences won’t laugh until they get home and turn on the TV.

Are you looking forward to that challenge?
Of course. Although, my main challenge is getting the audience in a good mood again after my support act Boothby Graffoe has been on.

Your stand-up isn’t particularly political or agenda-based, though.
Well yes and no. I’m not party political if that’s what you mean. I have no party political agenda. But I’ll talk about what’s going on around us trying to contribute to the discourse.

You’ve just been cast in The Nutcracker with Morgan Freeman and Keira Knightley. How is that going to feel filming and then showing up at a theatre to do stand up?
Am I? What are you my agent? News travels fast! (Laughs) You’d think it’d be weird but it has never phased me. Once in Barnet years ago I was late so didn’t change and came straight to the theatre from the set of The Mummy. I went on stage in full 1930s Egyptian prison warden garb. I even heard a crowd member say “well at least he’s making an effort.”

Away from stand-up, you have an impressive acting CV and have worked with Russell Crowe, Brad Pitt, Robert Redford, Johnny Depp, Mike Myers, Sarah Jessica Parker… Who’s been most fun to work with?
That’s a tough one… (thinks) I’d say, and anyone who’s worked with him as an actor would agree, Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones, was probably the most extraordinary. He played the father of Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 3’. His character shoots and kills my character for no reason. This seemed to bother him. In fact, he shot me about 14 times and after each take he’d come up to me and say, “listen, you do know I don’t mean this?”
Omid Djalili: Schmuck for a Night’ Buxton Opera House Box Office, 01298 72190 or visit http://www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk