Edinburgh Fringe 2022
VENUE 302 - Underbelly, Bristo Square - Jersey
Aug 3-14, 16-29 / Tickets
June 6, 2022
Bilal Zafar returns with a brand-new show about how he spent a year working in a care home for very wealthy people. Fresh out of university with a media degree, Bilal was dropped into the real world where he was given far too much responsibility for a 21-year-old who had just spent 3 years watching films.
Hi Bilal, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these strange times?
Fine overall thank you, can’t really complain.
How does it feel to be heading back to Edinburgh with a new show?
Very exciting, I haven’t been up since 2018 and like every comic, I really missed stand up during lock down. I think this show is quite different to my previous ones and I’m looking forward to showing what I can do.
As well as getting an Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Award Best Newcomer Nomination you won New Act of the Year, what has it meant to you to get this type or recognition for your work?
It’s been very nice but I accept that I’ve been very lucky. There are lots of excellent comedians that miss out on these things and it ultimately doesn’t matter. I’ve realised that I shouldn’t be relying on awards etc and should appreciate when people wanna see me. In 2016, I got a lot of attention and then in 2017 I didn’t. Looking back, I was miserable that year but my show was full everyday and audiences loved it.
Does the attention add any additional pressure on you or are you able to keep it out your head?
I did my first Edinburgh show when I had only been doing stand up for 3 years so initially, the pressure did really get to me because I was inexperienced. Now I’m able to not obsess over that stuff as much. I’m also very lucky to have my twitch audience now so it doesn’t feel like my entire life doesn’t hinge on an Edinburgh run. I’m hoping I can just enjoy performing a show I love.
You’re referred to as a ‘Twitch sensation’ what made you want to use Twitch to showcase your comedy and did you imagine it would build up so massively?
I used twitch because lockdown had begun, all of my gigs had vanished and I didn’t have anything else. My friend Limmy was having a great time on twitch and encouraged me to really go for it. I didn’t expect it to go so well. Twitch has allowed to me to gain a whole new audience and it's amazing.
What/who inspired ‘Hot Peppsy’ and what do you think it was about this character that connected with audiences so much?
I was inspired by the work of Tim Heidecker who creates horrible but very funny characters that are often out of their depth. I’ve also always loved football and all the ridiculous cliches and attitudes that go along with it. I think people like it because unlike most streams on twitch, it has an ongoing story that they can be invested in, it’s full of twists and turns, there’s some chance involved because we don’t know if we’ll win or lose and it’s quite silly.
How does it feel to being Care to Underbelly this summer?
Exciting! I’m also a bit nervous because I haven’t done a show like this at the Fringe before and I had always been in a ‘Pay what you want’ venue rather than a big fancy one like this.
"Comedians that weren’t nominated for best newcomer when I was have gone on to be far more successful than me so it really doesn’t matter as much as you might think."
What can you tell me about Care, what was the inspiration behind the show?
Storytelling stand up without any fancy tech etc is my favourite type of stand up to watch and I wanted to that this year. I worked in a care home for a year when I was 21 and I was very naïve and didn’t realise how strange this particular home was. I realized this year of my life can tell a very good story and hopefully be very funny.
When you preview a new show how much does it change before a major festival and do you still allow yourself some flexibility once a run has started?
It can change massively. I usually improvise bits that turn out to good enough to go in the show, I also sometimes write bits that I think are great but don’t really work. Previews can also massively vary depending on where you are in the country and what time you’re on so it can be a bit tricky at times. I don’t usually change a show massively when I’m at the fringe but I do find that it gets better after a fringe run.
Have you always had a passion for comedy?
Yes! I grew up with two older brothers that watched some of the best comedy when I was little so I was always a big fan of it and realised I wanted to work in comedy or at least something creative when I was about 15. I never thought I’d actually do stand up because I was so shy.
As well as comedy you have also dabbled in acting, Last Christmas, will you continue to explore more acting opportunities as well as your comedy?
I hope so! I’m very lucky to get a lot of great auditions and I’m trying my best to get more parts but it’s very hard!
For anyone making their fringe debut this year any advice or tips for them?
Enjoy yourself, remember that whatever happens; you will be a better comedian after the month, try not to get too sucked into awards and reviews. Comedians that weren’t nominated for best newcomer when I was have gone on to be far more successful than me so it really doesn’t matter as much as you might think.
And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from Care?
I hope they feel better having seen a (hopefully) very funny hour of comedy. If they get a better understanding of the care industry and minimum wage work, that’d be nice bonus.