• sophiasalmassi

Jenan Younis

What comedy most inspires you?

Character comedy really resonates with me. I love being able to step into a new identity by changing my voice/accent. Watching character comedians is like stepping into the twilight zone. It is the ultimate escape.

Which comedian most inspires you?

Growing up it was Omid Djalili. I loved seeing someone from the Middle East present the culture and nuances in such an accessible way to British audiences. Crowds may be ROFL but there was and still is an undercurrent of a deeper message with his material (even with his dinosaur impressions – trust me on this one). He was the only figure from the Middle East that I saw on British television as a child, and it was truly inspiring watching someone talk about their background so freely and comfortably. I did try and meet him backstage at the Edinburgh festival a few years ago (Assembly Rooms #slack backstage door), but got escorted out by security. I think he may have a restraining order issued against me now.

Which comedian scares the shit out of you because you know you'll never be that good?

Patrick Kielty. My current day hero (now Omid has forsaken me). His mind runs at lightning speed; it takes him the blink of a nano second to produce the sharpest of comebacks. I have to think so hard with a comeback I get a migraine. The way he navigates comically through the dark tales of Northern Irish politics is pure genius. I will never be able to come even close to doing that with the Middle East.

Why and how did you get into comedy?

Theatre was always my first love. I sang for the English National Opera as a kid. I somehow found myself down an unexpected academic path at University and I was desperate to find a way back on stage. A former partner in crime from my theatre days suggested stand up which I ruled out. Thanks to her persistent harassment I did my first ever gig at the Edinburgh fringe (what a baptism of fire) to a crowd of rowdy Scots at midnight somewhere down George IV bridge. The rest is history.

What drives you to do what you do?

The adrenaline rush! It’s an addiction. And it’s getting worse. A great gig turns my whole perspective around. It’s my method to keeping emotionally healthy.