Aatif Nawaz is a comedian who isn’t afraid to challenge mindsets by delving straight into taboo issues and offering his own side of the story. He is bringing his latest show The Last Laugh (following his previous two shows, Muslims do it 5 Times a Day and AATIFicial Intelligence) to the Edinburgh Festival. Aatif will be performing this free show at the Newsroom throughout August.
1) What excites you most about the Edinburgh Festival?
I could tell you it’s the world’s biggest arts festival. I could tell you it’s about the opportunity to test my new show in front of the strongest, most comedy-savvy audiences. I could tell you it’s an inspiring environment. But you want the truth don’t you?
Honestly? There’s a halal kebab shop in Leith that’s open 24 hours and they always throw in a deep fried mars bar. All for a fiver! A FIVER!!!
2) What was your first Edinburgh show about?
In 2015, I took my first solo show to the Fringe: It was called ‘Muslims Do It 5 Times A Day’ (I know. That’s really clever innit?). The show was about my life as a muslim man in what was becoming a more islamaphobic atmosphere around the world.
3) Does your comedy attract a certain type of audience?
Guardian readers and Daily Mail readers. But not Times readers. That’s a nut I’ve yet to crack…
4) What is the worst experience you’ve had with Edinburgh accommodation?
It’s one I bring on myself every year. I’m a creature of habit. So I stay in the same place in Leith every year. And it’s a really nice place with really nice flatmates. Everyone is considerate and tidy. It sounds pretty great right? Well here comes the caveat: It’s on the 5th floor and there’s no lift. And on any given day at the Fringe, I’ve probably walked anywhere from 5-10 kilometres. So a steep five-story staircase isn’t something I have wet dreams about. Particularly when I have to lug 5000 flyers up them on day one.
On the plus side, my calves are always in great shape…
5) What is your most treasured memory of your comedy career so far?
I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the stage with many of my comedy idols. That moment where your heroes become your peers feels like a massive accomplishment. Also, walking off stage at the Watford Palace Theatre to a standing ovation after my first major TV set. I still think about that from time to time. It makes me smile…
6) What show will you definitely be seeing at the festival this year?
Aside from my own fantastic show you mean? Well there are so many acts I love – last year, in addition to performing my own 60 minute show 24 times and doing another 48 sets, I managed to see another 38 shows. And I loved almost all of them. I fear if I began listing them for you now, you’d run out of bandwidth and storage space for your website and would have to upgrade your plan to one that allows more storage. And I’m a considerate guy. So I won’t put you through that..
7) What do you hope to gain from the Edinburgh Festival this year?
I’m hoping someone will come along to my show and think ‘Damn – he’s so good, why don’t I cast him in a British remake of Better Call Saul I was planning…’ or something along those lines.
I think of the Fringe as comedy bootcamp. I develop a new show, perform is 20-odd times to varying audiences and then that’s my set, my show, my material for the next 12 months.
8) What do you imagine your last ever show will be about?
It might be this one. Maybe. It’s called The Last Laugh and it’s about how I took a non-traditional route as a stand-up comedian. They told me it wouldn’t work. They told me I wouldn’t be successful. They told me I wouldn’t last. Well, here I am. Back again. For a third year in a row. And a third show. And it’s on at 11:15pm. So, in a literal sense, I may well be having the last laugh…