Sometimes it takes a horrendous global crisis to set free your comic potential. Shazia Mirza has been a successful stand-up, columnist and broadcaster for much of the 21st century, with a healthy transatlantic fanbase too, but only recently found her full comic mojo. Mirza's latest show, The Kardashians Made Me Do It, might just make you think a bit differently about the stuff that's all over the papers. But before we get into her genuinely eye-opening views on radical recruitment, a slight Bake Off-related disagreement...
What's the story behind this show?
I wasn't going to do Edinburgh last year because I thought 'I've got nothing to say, I don't know what to write about.' Then in about March I was in New York and these three girls from Bethnal Green went to go and join ISIS, and it was all over the TV in America.
I was with a friend of mine - she's Bangladeshi and the girls were - and we were really shocked like, oh my god, we would never have done that, and we were probably brought up in even stricter [families]. We did some stupid wild things, but we never ran off to Syria to join a terrorist organisation. We just couldn't understand how and why they'd do that.
Then I just started writing what I thought about it, and in a month I had a show. Since I wrote it, eight months ago, so much has happened. I've put new bits in, a new bit about Donald Trump, and the girl in the headscarf winning the Bake Off - that huge event that changed the world.
I suppose it did a little bit - it gave a more positive message at least.
I don't understand why. Yes it's great, she won a baking competition and that's what she should be rewarded for, but it turned into a huge race relations act for the whole of Britain.
I think it was just liberal people clinging to a positive story: 'look, she's a regular person'.
Well I just thought, if a white man wins a baking competition he's a great baker, if a woman in a headscarf wins a baking competition she's Nelson Mandela!
Surely it was the fact that she was normal that was important? She counteracted all this crazy stuff coming out about Muslims: 'look, this whole community isn't bonkers'.
But we know that, and any right-thinking normal person knows that some of us bake cakes and some of us blow up the world - we know that.
But do we? A lot of people seem to be getting sucked in by all these front pages. I live in the London suburbs, and a lot of people outside of cities, those are the only images of Muslims they ever see.
When I did my show at the Tricycle [Theatre, in London's Kilburn] - the people that came are white, middle class, Guardian-reading educated people, they come up to me afterwards and say 'how come I didn't know that?' People say they want to read the truth - well if you want to read the truth, read the Koran, not the Daily Mail. But they can't be bothered.
As a well-known Muslim comic, do you feel the need to address these issues now, as opposed to the lighter stuff you used to do?
I've come to a point where I'm doing a show and I don't feel like I've been pressured into this. It's not just Muslim comics who are talking about this; ISIS and terrorism. More girls are going to join ISIS, I have an opinion about that, I feel like I can relate to it, I've had a similar upbringing to these girls, I know why they're going, and it's not religious or political reasons, and I feel like I should tell people about that.
People read the Mail, the papers, that's where they get their opinions from - TV -and they think it's because young people hate Britain, hate the West, they hate British values. But these girls are very British, they've been brought up here, they don't know any other nationality; 15 years old, they watch The Kardashians, they've got pictures of Justin Bieber on their bedroom walls. Normal teenagers.
So they're craving excitement?
You look at the [ISIS] men - they're macho, they're hairy - they are hot. Some of the men are really hot. I have friends who've seen them on TV and gone 'god, they're a bit of alright' - some of them are! It's just the fact that they are murderers, if you take that out of the equation.
It is a bit of a drawback. I'd always imagined that people joining ISIS are probably pretty troubled, but you reckon it's normal kids?
I did a gig in Leicester on Christmas Day for 200 Muslim boys, young men, and I asked all of them individually 'would you go and join ISIS?' and they said no way. Everybody I've asked, all the women I've spoken to, they say [those girls] are going because they fancy these blokes - they're like the One Direction of Islam. They're sexy, that's why they're going. All Muslims know that. But when I suggest this in my show, or in an interview, it gets brushed under the carpet, because it doesn't fit into the narrative.
They don't know anything about religion. When you're 15, you just know what your parents have told you, they just know what they've learned from Twitter or Facebook, they've not read the Koran inside out, they don't know the essence of the Koran, the meaning of Islam. They're not becoming radicalised, they're horny teenagers.
So how do we deal with it? Clearly we're going about it completely wrongly.
Yeah, more people are going. When I was growing up my parents were really strict and I wasn't allowed to do things, but we rebelled in the normal way - we took Ecstasy and went out with gay men to nightclubs - I didn't join the IRA or help Gaddafi. ISIS weren't around when I was growing up, maybe if they had been, god, I might have run off and joined ISIS. Their parents have a lot to do with it, this repressive culture we're brought up in, you can't do this or that. It's nothing to do with religion.
These young girls, they should be allowed to be normal, go out with boys, so when a terrorist approaches them on Twitter, tells them that they're beautiful, they should come to Syria and live together, then it won't seem such a romantic adventure, it won't seem so exciting.
It sounds like the way teenagers were seduced by gangster rap: macho dudes with guns.
Life is boring when you're not allowed to do anything, then some gorgeous hunky guy with a gun in a war-torn country says 'come over, we'll live together, you're Muslim, I'm Muslim, so it's all allowed.'
In my show, I show a short film at the end. This French journalist called Francois was held by ISIS for eight months, and when he was released he did this interview on CNN, they said 'did they try to convert you to Islam, did they force you to read the Koran?' and he said 'they never had a Koran, I never saw a Koran, it's nothing to do with the Koran.' You'd think if you were holding Western journalists hostage for eight months, you might force Islam upon them, or see a Koran if you're calling yourselves Islamic State.
Someone just needs to tell the truth really - shame it has to be a comedian.
It's often the way these days. The most high-profile campaigners tend to be comedians.
We're allowed to tell the truth. No matter how offensive and controversial it is, we can say it, then go 'well, it was just a joke.'
This story is in the news every day - will you be adding bits during the tour?
I think I'll have to. I was in LA before Christmas and there was all that Donald Trump business - I've got a US visa, I work in the US all the time, and when I was going through immigration, there were men with beards in front of us who were stopped for ages. And I thought, if he stops me and asks me if I am, should I deny it? And I thought 'why has it come to this?' All my friends in LA are Jewish, my manager's Jewish, and I remember him telling me, 'this is what happened to the Jews, they had to change their names, their look.'
And Trump isn't even the bloody president...
But a lot of people like Donald Trump, they think he's brave, telling the truth, saying what we're all thinking. I was there when the presidential debates were on - that hatred just breeds more hatred.
I'd imagine most of his fans over there never actually meet real Muslims, so just swallow whatever he says
The people who like Trump, from what I can gather, are uneducated, and the uneducated don't vote, so it might not be a problem. But it stirs things up - he also doesn't want Mexicans in, he wants to build a wall round and get the Mexicans to pay for it. He spews hatred towards every kind of immigrant - which is strange because all his wives are Eastern European.
That's a point. The worry is that it'll make proper politicians more extreme, because it's popular. The Farage effect.
When I saw what Donald Trump was saying I actually warmed to Nigel Farage. My God, he's not half as bad as Trump. He's like trump lite. He's very likable.
So what's next for you?
I'm going to do the tour for four months, until about May, then America for a bit - I'm doing two weeks in New York with this show, I'm also going to Sweden and Denmark and Paris.
Have you thought about doing something else with it? A documentary, book...?
I've had people asking me to write a book for a very long time, but I held that off because I didn't know what I wanted to write about. I've had people watch the show who've wanted to film it, put it on TV, stuff like that. But I don't know. It's something I have to do live.
Shazia's tour begins on February 5th - visit www.shazia-mirza.com for details.