British Comedy Guide

Edinburgh Q&A

Published: Monday 8th August 2016

Jay Islaam.

Jay Islaam: 10 Edinburgh Fringe questions

Jay Islaam answers 10 questions about his 2016 Edinburgh Fringe show...

Give us a quick overview of your comedy career so far. Are you happy with where you're at?

I started performing stand-up almost three years ago, during the second half of 2013. Since then I've picked up a couple of national awards, been banned from more than 100 comedy venues, and won more new act competitions than any other performer (probably) with some very politically incorrect material. Even though I do a lot of traditional stand-up, mainly angry rants or one-liner sets, I do worry that I've been pigeon-holed as a character comedian. Which is why I've stopped doing much character stuff in the last six months.

Overall, though, I'm happy enough. My comedy podcast (comedycannon.com) has been featured on the Apple iTunes homepage for a few months now. I was recently commissioned to create a comedy pilot for BBC radio. And I've been asked to host a TV show that's slated for broadcast in early 2017. I reckon that's not bad for this stage of my career.

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (but mix them up, keep us guessing!).

1. I've visited every continent, and more than fifty countries, in the last decade.

2. For my day job, I write speeches and press releases for Royalty and the United Nations.

3. I once dated a well-known soap opera actress, but it didn't end amicably.

Describe your new show in exactly 23 words.

The media's portrayal of Autism covers a very narrow part of the spectrum. This show hopes to expand the audience's understanding of ASD.

Any cunning plans to get more punters in?

I'm a big fan of the power of new media, and plan to do no flyering whatsoever!! Instead, I will be entirely focused on public relations, social media campaigns and online advertising. It's a big gamble, as traditional wisdom suggests the harder you flyer the bigger your audience will be. So I'll consider my strategy a success if I fill even half my 60-seater room.

What's your plan for trying to eat - and drink - healthily during the Fringe?

The amount of walking you have to do in Edinburgh should keep me fit. Also, I'm a teetotal vegan, so no hangovers or food poisoning for me! Finally, I think my abject poverty will ensure I don't over-eat at the fringe. I'm basically a starving artist stereotype, and won't have the luxury of raiding other people's fridges when I'm up there.

What will you miss most while you're away from home?

Nothing. Not even family and friends. FaceTime will make sure I don't miss out too much. It's only 2 weeks.

Aside from performing, what else are you looking forward to doing in Scotland's fine capital?

I run a regular podcast (The Comedy Cannon) interviewing comedians and other performers, and I hope I can get at least 20 new interviews done for it while I'm at the Fringe.

If you took over programming a Fringe venue, what would your perfect line-up of comedians be?

Many of the comics are admire have sadly passed away. But of those still standing, and if it was a decent 200+ seater, I would love to see:

Omid Djalili
Scott Capurro
Bill Burr
Christian Reilly
Anthony Jeselnik
Jason Manford
Frankie Boyle
and
Michael McIntyre
(Cue sneering by jealous comics fashionably pretending they hate him for reasons other than his immense talent.)

Name the one person you'd rather not bump into during the festival.

I have a mentally ill stalker. Actually, I have two. But only one of them has credibly threatened to visit me while I'm up there. The staff and security team at my venue have been given his name and photo, but there's a strong possibility he could turn up at one of the other shows I'm performing at in August. My diary is publicly available on my website, so he visits me at gigs every now and then to threaten me. And there's a possibility he'll make the trip north of the border so he can, as he eloquently puts it, "f*** you up".

Why should audiences pick your show over the 1,800+ other Fringe offerings listed on BCG this year?

As someone who continuously suffers from crippling self-doubt, I wouldn't be so bold as to suggest audiences should pick my show over anyone else's. However, if you do come, then I hope I'll repay your faith in me with an enlightening and entertaining hour of humorous Autism-related facts and stories. And, even if you don't laugh, you will learn a lot about the subject of ASD.

'Travels With Autism' is at Just The Tonic at the Caves at 9pm on 16-28 Aug. Listing

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