<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Tez Ilyas - Blackburn-born comedian on his career so far

PUBLISHED: 09:18 26 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:18 26 June 2017

Blackburn-born comedian Tez Ilyas

Blackburn-born comedian Tez Ilyas

not Archant

A decade working in the Home Office helped prepare Blackburn’s Tez Ilyas for a career in stand-up comedy, writes Paul Mackenzie.

The old joke goes something along the lines of ‘How do you get to King George’s Hall? Practice.’ But for Blackburn-born comedian Tez Ilyas (whose jokes are much better than that one) the answer could also involve a degree in bio-chemistry and ten years spent in the civil service.

It’s not the conventional route to the stage, but then he’s not a typical comedian.

Tez – short for Tehzeeb – came to comedy almost by accident when he searched online for writing courses. He was working at the Home Office at the time and looking for a hobby. ‘I didn’t find a writing course but I came across a comedy course and people used to tell me I was funny so I thought I’d give that a go,’ he said. ‘The worst case scenario was that I would make a fool of myself and I was ok with that.’

He didn’t make a fool of himself – or if he did, he did so in a way that he and the audience enjoyed – and he started to write more material and to perform at open mic nights around London. In 2015 he took his debut show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and he has since appeared on television panel shows and Radio Four comedies.

But things could have worked out very differently. He initially planned a career in medicine but didn’t get the grades he needed and opted to study bio-chemistry at Lancaster instead.

‘I was quite good at science so I signed up and I had a great three years in Lancaster. I loved being a student, it was the first time I’d been away from home and I made some amazing life-long friends.

‘When it finished I didn’t want to leave being a student so I did a Masters in management because I didn’t want the responsibility of being a proper grown up with a 9-5 job and I suppose I thought that might make me more employable.

‘After uni I went back to Blackburn for a year and had a few jobs – I worked in a call centre and as a steward at Blackburn Rovers – and then I went to London and had a proper job for ten years, on the civil service graduate programme working in the Home Office.’

His family, he says, have now come to terms with his decision to step away from a regular wage and make the break into showbusiness. ‘It was a tough sell for me at first, but as I start to get more mainstream success and more appearances on BBC and Channel Four, it becomes more tangible for them,’ he said. ‘I carefully engineered the point at which I left my job and now I’m making enough money to support myself I think it’s easier for my family to understand.’

He is one of those affable, friendly, sorts it’s hard not to like and he has an on-stage style that has been described as ‘slick’, ‘sharp’ and ‘subversive’. Much of his comedy is rooted in his Muslim faith and aims to debunk myths and misconceptions about the religion.

He spoke to Lancashire Life from an Exeter hotel room on the final leg of a tour with fellow stand-up Josie Long before he embarked on his solo Made in Britain tour which took in his home town. He is now taking his third solo tour ‘Teztify’ to the Edinburgh Fringe (with previews across the country) and has some television and radio opportunities coming up, but while he’s aiming big, he’s down-to-earth enough to not get carried away.

‘I realise I’m not going to sell out the 02 or Wembley, I’m not going to be in that category but I’d be happy to be in the category below the category below that – it’s the level equivalent to playing football for Stoke, I’m not Lionel Messi but it’s still a decent standard.’

For tour dates, go online to tezilyas.com

More from People

Tue, 00:00

One man who brought giants of the rock world to Lancaster has told his story in a new book. David Stocker went to meet him

Read more
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

All the items that have appeared in our ambitious project to mark the 70th anniversary of Lancashire Life.

Read more
Lancashire70
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A poll taken by Lancashire Life readers has revealed who they think is the greatest.

Read more
Lancashire70
Thursday, October 26, 2017

A centre devoted to natural childbirth has just celebrated its 5000th arrival. Chief photographer Kirsty Thompson captured the celebration.

Read more
Blackburn
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The John O’Gaunt Rowing Club has a remarkable history – including the time one crew greased their shorts to make them go faster! Martin Pilkington reports.

Read more
Lancaster
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Lancashire rock star Jeffrey Hammond is back home and about to reveal his hidden talent for art. But first, he spoke exclusively to Barbara Waite

Read more
Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Troops clash in the seaside town as Allied forces attempt to capture a German fuel dump. Paul Mackenzie reports from the front line.

Read more
Lytham
Thursday, September 14, 2017

Presenter and journalist Beccy Barr tells Roger Borrell about her love of Lancashire, life as a single mum and dealing with trolls

Read more
Lancaster
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

This year’s Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards takes place at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel & Spa, Blackburn on Monday, October 16th

Read more
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Rebekka O’Grady meets people in Liverpool who are passionate about making their hometown the best it can be.

Read more
Liverpool
Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Beautiful boats like The Polly are still being built the old fashioned way on the river Wyre, writes Paul Mackenzie

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Lancashire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search