Shazia Mirza, stand-up comic

 30 January 2011

Comedian Shazia Mirza offers advice for aspiring performers.

"I liked writing comedy and my teacher said I should try and perform it. So I went out one night and I performed it and I never stopped.

"But even after doing it for a few years, I never thought that I'd have a career in it. I just thought it would stop eventually and people would find out I'm not funny."

Moving from teaching to comedy

"You have to take care of yourself. How do I want to make money? How do I make a living?"

"Biochemistry, that's what my degree was. I left, I did a postgrad and became a teacher. I was teaching in an East End comprehensive in London, really rough 16-year-old boys.

"I used to tell them jokes, and they used to say 'God, Miss, you are NOT funny, please stop telling these awful awful jokes.'"

Advice for comedians

"Watch loads of comedy videos, go to the theatre and watch comedians that you really like.

"You have to take care of yourself and think, 'What do I want to do? How do I want to make money? How do I make a living?'

"In the beginning, this is an art form, it takes a long time to get good at it. I've been doing this seven years, I'm not great at it. It's a craft, it's an art, and it's very hard to make money out of doing things that you love.

"You always have to persevere and remember that you're doing it because you love it, so you will always do it."

Making a living as a comedian

"I never thought I'd have a career in it. I just thought people would find out I'm not funny."

"Then I went part-time teaching, then I did supply teaching. Before that, when I was a student, I was a waitress.

"I mean, you've always got to have money to get on the bus and get on the train. You need your bus fare, don't you?"

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