“What The Frock! has become the UK's most significant nurturer of female talent, and has meant Bristol now gives female comedians a bigger slice of the action” – The Naked Guide To Bristol, 2015
SAM HURLEY INTERVIEWS SHAZIA
Like most British folk with a penchant for comedy, Shazia Mirza was raised on a healthy diet of Are You Being Served? and Only Fools and Horses.
These sitcoms and the comedic musings of Frankie Howard, Kenny Everett and Les Dawson were always on the box in the Mirza family home in Birmingham, yet the arrival of stand-up as a career move was actually a complete accident.
Shazia had never once considered doing comedy as she grew up and, upon leaving school, turned on her heel and returned as a science teacher. Stand-up was just something she decided to give a go one night, inspired by a host of “dead, or nearly dead, comedians like Richard Pryor and Joan Rivers”. Then she just carried on with it and never looked back.
While her website professes that she no longer lives in Birmingham “because she’s doing well”, Shazia, quite humbly, never expected to still be going. She particularly didn’t expect to have picked up a host of awards, had global television and radio appearances, and have performed alongside the likes of Robin Williams on this journey.
Shazia has a style that is self-deprecating, picking fun at herself for being a Muslim woman “who no man wants to marry, now that she’s dabbled in jokes and has fingered a few men on the 38 bus”. In short, she gets off on tearing political correctness a new one, and as it has turned out, so does her audience.
Shazia took this attitude to 2013’s Women of the World Festival. Joining Danielle Ward and compere Rosie Willby, they teamed up with What The Frock! for a special afternoon of comedy. The annual festival coincides with International Women’s Day and is designed to celebrate female achievements and discuss women’s position on the world stage. Shazia has performed at the festival before, sharing the stage with Annie Lennox at the Royal Festival Hall in what she describes as "a great privilege".