Has your Twitter account ever been misidentified as a Muslim-only cake shop? No?
Well, Bilal Zafar’s has, and he has used it as the inspiration for his show, Cakes, which is on at Just the Tonic at the Mash House from 4-38 August (not 15). You can get tickets here.
We caught up with him to find out a bit more about his comedy career, what he thinks of the Edinburgh Fringe, and his private battle with heartburn.
Describe what the Edinburgh Festival means to you in no more than three sentences.
It’s a massive deal to me. It’t the biggest arts festival in the world and I think you have to be part of it if you can.
How many fringes have you done?
I’ve only been up once to do open spots, watch loads of shows and try to learn about it.
Did you pick up any tips for surviving the festival?
I haven’t done Edinburgh properly yet…but I imagine making time to rest properly and having other things to do apart from comedy can quite useful in such an intense month.
Do you think comedy acts feel they “have” to do Edinburgh or they won’t be taken seriously? Is there a risk the pressure take the fun out of it?
It definitely can take the fun out of it. I know comics that have really hated their fringe experiences because of the pressure.
Personally, I’m just really excited to have my own hour long show. I couldn’t imagine being in this position a few years ago so I just want to enjoy it.
Why did you get into comedy and how long have you been doing it?
I’ve been doing it for just over three years. I got into because I wanted to write comedy for TV as a teenager.
I went to university to study screenwriting and eventually learnt that it was almost impossible to have a career in. I had a proper epiphany in my final year of uni and realised that I should just be writing stuff and saying it on stage.
It’s like I found my perfect thing, I tried it once and have just kept doing until it has become my job.
How much of what we see on stage is you, how much is an onstage persona?
My onstage persona is usually a sligt exaggeration of myself. I can’t help seeming wry or dry when I speak and it can be very effective on stage.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I get heartburn a lot. I don’t usually tell people.
Your show’s called Cakes. What’s it about, and why should we come along?
My show is about a time when my twitter account (@Zafarcakes) was mistaken for a “Muslim only cake shop”, and I sort of became a prime target for the furious far right around the world.
You should come along because it’s quite a unique show, it’s fascinating, there will be free cakes and it’s hilarious.
What’s been your biggest success and your biggest challenge in the world of comedy?
My biggest success has to be winning the new act of the year award (previously Hackney Empire new act of the year award) in February, which so many comedy legends have featured in over the last 30 years. It also led to me being signed by a huge, amazing agent.
My biggest challenge was when I was about two years into stand up, I felt like I wasn’t good enough to ever get anywhere and thought I should give up. Luckily, I stuck at it and now it’s mostly great!
So there you have it. Go and see the Muslim-only cake shop, live at the Edinburgh Fringe! We think we got that right…