British Muslim stand-up comedians feature on ‘New Voices’ talent show

Aiming to showcase a new breed of Muslim comedic talent, several upcoming names have been billed for a night of laughter

Nabila Pathan
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As British Muslim comedy continues to grow as a recognizable genre, there has been an increasing drive to broaden the range of comic voices. "New Voices," is the latest platform to hit London this year.

Aiming to showcase a new breed of Muslim comedic talent, several upcoming names have been billed for a night of laughter.


Some of the emerging names to be included in the line-up are Sadia Azmat, Bilal Zafar, Kae Kurd, Jay Islaam, Eshaan Akbar and Aatif Nawaz.

Performers will peppering their comic material with their own experiences of hailing from both Muslim and British backgrounds. Whether it's stories of discrimination, rising misinformation and hysteria about Islam or even stories about love, loss or hope, the material will be as eclectic and diverse as the British Muslim experience itself.

Omar Hamdi, a popular Comedian of Welsh-Egyptian heritage, who's performed on both British television and radio will be compering the show, spoke to Al Arabiya English a head of the event to explain how "New Voices" provides a supportive platform to emerging talent:

"Doing a show like 'New Voices' is great because it comes with a disclaimer - we're doing it on our terms, so you know what you're getting."

"If you're the average British person trying to understand issues to do with the Muslim world, it's difficult to know who to listen to...So a bottom-up rather than a top-down approach can help. Historically there's been massive prejudice against other communities in Europe and the U.S. and it's been remedied by normal people telling their stories, not by community leaders.

As British Muslim comedy continues to thrive, boosted by recent spate of programs like Citizen Khan, which draws millions of viewers per episode, "New Voices" aims to encourage more talent, explains Hamdi:

"It's difficult because you turn on your TV the 'normative' image of a comedian is still white, male, middle class. But the channels are doing a lot to change things and the talent is there. It just needs to be nurtured."

As for belonging to the newly emerging genre of 'British Muslim Comedy', Hamdi adds: "I define my stand up as my stand up. But inevitably all stand ups are defined by their 'outsider' perspective. So even someone doing observational comedy about airplane food, that's funny because they're observing it as an outsider rather than just participating in it like the rest of us. So me being a Muslim, just like me being Welsh, or me being Egyptian, hopefully makes my stand up more interesting to the average English person (if there is such a thing!)"

"New Voices" will be showcasing emerging British Muslim stand-up talent at the renowned The Comedy Cafe Theater in London this Thursday at 8pm.

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