Since emerging on the UK comedy circuit 25 years ago, Omid Djalili has long since become one of the country’s most beloved and prolific stand-ups.
His career has spanned his own TV show, sold-out world tours and even taken him to the silver screen (more on that later). His comedy has always offered a unique, sharp-witted voice that merges classic storytelling, a humorous look at his Iranian heritage and the kind of energy that can fill an arena. Even in his 50s, Djalili shows no sign of slowing down.
His latest show, Shmuck For A Night, has been performed over 200 times across the world – and, next month, it’s Australia’s turn to witness the magic. Ahead of Djalili’s return, here’s a look at five of his best moments across his career.
1. Foreign Accent Syndrome
As long as he’s been doing stand-up, Djalili has been an expert in accent work. If you’ve ever seen a comedian come out and do a convincing foreign accent before switching to their regular voice, there’s a good chance they picked it up from Djalili’s work. In this cut from The Omid Djalili Show, the comic goes on a miniature world tour as he recalls the bizarre medical case of Foreign Accent Syndrome you might remember from a few years ago.
2. Omid takes on football commentary
Prior to Schmuck for a Night, Djalili’s last show was entitled Iranalamadingdong. It’s a love letter to his heritage, his culture and his upbringing – but it’s simultaneously unflinching in its send-ups of some of his cultural touchstones. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is when Djalili gets into Arab football commentary. It’s far from an original concept – even The Simpsons have made a “GOOOOOAL!” joke – but given Djalili’s direct connection, he’s able to pull back the curtain a little more and properly emphasise the true hilarity behind their histrionics.
3. The Infidel
About ten years ago, Djalili scored his first proper lead role in a movie. Written by fellow English stand-up veteran David Baddiel and also starring UK comedy star Miranda Hart, Djalili plays a Muslim man who experiences a crisis of faith upon realising he is adopted and that his birth parents were, in fact, Jewish. The Infidel wasn’t exactly a box office smash by any stretch of the imagination, but if you have the means to go back and revisit it there’s a lot more humour and heart to this peculiar comedy than you probably remember – if, indeed, you remember it at all.
4. Omid takes on the comedic dividing range
Having been a world-touring comedian for years and years now, Djalili is all too aware of the key, acute differences that lie between performing in different parts of the world. In this excerpt from his stand-up, Djalili breaks down the culture clash that comes with performing in Iran, performing in the US and performing in the UK. It’s done with the acerbic wit, dark underbelly and impeccable use of both tension and release that can only come with the very best of Djalili’s stand-up.
5. Playing the villain in Shaun the Sheep
Yep, no kidding. Just a few years ago, Aardman Animations took one of their most beloved characters to the big screen for the very first time with Shaun the Sheep: The Movie. In the film, Djalili plays the role of Trumper, an Animal Containment worker who attempts to capture and reign in Shaun’s various hijinks. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t work out so well for him. In the documentary, Djalili talks about what an absolute joy it is to be a part of something he’s adored watching in the past. Given the chance to really camp things up the way that he does here, it’s easy to see why this is one of his personal favourite roles.
Omid Djalili comes to Palais Theatre on Saturday March 28. Grab your tix via palaistheatre.com.au.