Audiences are "more demanding" post-pandemic - Omid Djalili

Omid Djalili embarks on his Good Times tour – very much also a tour for changed times.

Omid Djalili
Omid Djalili

Things are certainly different as we emerge from the pandemic, Omid says.

He was noticing it in the first few days as he hit the road.

Shows coming up include Guildford’s G Live on Nov 18; Chichester Festival Theatre on Nov 22; Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion on Mar 19 2022; and Hastings’ White Rock Theatre on Oct 29 2022.

“I think we have all changed. I think there is a new normal. You can tell it from the audience.

“ The difference is that everybody has been at home watching stuff digitally and they are now demanding higher-quality content.

“Stuff that I was saying in comedy clubs that would have got a ‘Wahay!’ or a cheer, well, it has changed. I was doing a joke about Covid variants, the kind of thing that you would put on Twitter. I said something and there was a groan and somebody said ‘Oh my God!’ It was like ‘For God’s sake, is that the best you can do?’

“I think new audiences are more empowered and very entitled. They are demanding better quality, and I think that that is good.

“And I think people are way more intolerant about jokes about the other. The Paddy jokes, the Scottish jokes, they all went out in the 1970s. But now they won’t tolerate jokes about somebody who is other in some way, somebody who is German or whatever. We have got to be thinking about really important stuff about people’s lives and experiences.”

And certainly it is difficult talking about the pandemic: “You find that if the joke is not brilliantly funny, then people will get twitchy. If it is actually brilliantly funny, then they will go with it. If you are trying to create something new – and new comedy is all about clutching something out of the air – then I do think people will appreciate that shared experience.

“But I think people want you to talk about the pandemic. They want you to talk about politics and where we are. They want you to talk about what we have all been through and how things have changed. They want to reflect on all the terrible things that have happened. It is about finding the right moment.”

And Omid has changed too: “I have certainly really appreciated coming back to stand-up comedy.”

Omid cites a gig in Telford. A smallish venue. No big deal. The gig was something to get through in order to get to the hotel afterwards. But not anymore.

“It is a 640-seat venue. But now there are only 200 people there and I absolutely cherished it. I loved every moment. I absolutely loved being on stage and I wanted to stay there.”

So in that sense the pandemic has energised him, he says: “I really appreciated the job because I haven’t done it for 20 months. I just loved being back there doing it again after all this time.”

A firm favourite at the Edinburgh Festival, Omid’s stand-up awards include the Time Out Award for Best Stand Up and the EMMA Award. He’s also been a nominee for a Perrier Award and the South Bank Award. His credits range from Hollywood to television, the West End Stage to his critically acclaimed performance as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. Omid’s drama, Letter For The King was on Netflix and the second series of His Dark Materials aired on the BBC. He is also the host of ITV quiz show Winning Combination, which aired in November 2020.