Performer: Bilal Zafar Photograph by: Matt Crockett Show: Lovebots Venue: Just the Tonic at The Mash House Promoter: Avalon
Tell me about your Edinburgh show.
My new show ‘Lovebots’ is basically about Cambridge Analytica. I’m kind of obsessed with how they influenced elections recently. They made loads of fake Twitter accounts which were fake right-wing people saying horrible things all the time and making things trend, and it’s not even real which is just really weird. So my show is about creating my own bots which will only talk about love and compassion to try and reverse the bad.
Tell me about your first gig.
Somewhere in South London. Not much of an audience. When it was my turn, I went up, felt like I was shaking, felt horrible and went completely blank. I had written some bullet points on my wrist but I realised my sweat had them unreadable…and then 20 seconds later it was all fine.
Do you have any rituals before going on stage?
Not really, I might pray if I have a really bad feeing about it. I get very very tired before going on stage, if trying to wake yourself up counts as a ritual.
Tell me about your best and worst review.
I ended up in hospital with Pneumonia after last years fringe. Sometimes reviews come out after the fringe and I realised I got my first ever 5 star review when I was in my hospital bed. The year before, I came across a title for my how CAKES which said that it ‘slowly crumbles away’. Inaccurate.
During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?
Nahh. It’s too risky! It’s best to try and enjoy the month.
How do you feel about reviewers generally?
Necessary evil. They could definitely be nicer about people.
In April 2018, YouTube comedian, Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was fined £800 for training his girlfriend’s pug dog to do a Nazi salute with its paw, in response to the phrase ‘Gas the Jews’. Do you believe Meechan committed a criminal offence, and why?
This is controversial, but I don’t think you should actually be allowed to joke about ‘gassing Jews’. The guy has turned out to be an actual Nazi as well so I really didn’t mind when he was arrested.
Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?
No but it depends on context.
Have you ever gone too far?
No, sorry, I’m mostly nice on stage. I’ve been mean to hecklers but I probably didn’t go far enough.
Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career
In 2015, I became runner up in the Leicester theatre new comedian of the year competition. I know that we shouldn’t seek validation through stuff like that but it was the first time I felt like I could actually get somewhere in comedy. (I’m generally a low confidence guy)