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25th Jul 2019

COMEDY BOX: Why you need to watch… The Tez O’Clock Show

The Tez O'Clock Show is bursting with ideas and feels thrillingly overdue. Tez Ilyas has arrived and it's really fucking exciting.

Nooruddean Choudry

Who: Tez Ilyas

What: The Tez O’Clock Show

Where: Channel 4


The ‘late-night satirical comedy show’ is nothing new. There have been variations on the theme for years – with hugely varying levels of success. The secret is always to be as relevant as possible, whilst injecting a unique spin on events. Without an idiosyncratic angle, you are essentially televising water cooler topics with water cooler wit.

In the communication age, things get even trickier. The Twitterverse is awash with hot-takes and minute-by-minute gags on breaking news. So much so that even a relatively clever punchline quickly becomes passé and overused. Essentially, everyone is in competition with each other for the pithiest post and greatest number of shares.

It is in this context that Blackburn comic Tez Ilyas launches the Tez O’Clock Show, which is so cutely devised that even the title is multi-layered and laced with knowing wit: it goes out an hour later than the title pun suggests because of ‘desi time’. Such attention to detail and acute sense of identity propel this sophisticated hour to the elite of its genre.

There is real flair and surety to every creative step. Indeed it is rare for a show to be so fully-formed from the outset. The key of course is Ilyas himself. He is not just funny, smart, politically savvy and seemingly effortless in his charisma, but he is all these things in a singularly Tez way. Importantly, he avoids the trap of leaning too heavily into any one aspect of his identity.

It would have been so easy – and tempting – to play it safe. Essentially take a tried and tested format and simply sprinkle some Asian flavour on top. But this is certainly not the Last Lassi with a brown Adam Hills. It is bubbling with the kind of ideas and personality and tone that could only ripple from someone who is Muslim, and Asian, and Northern, and passionately socially conscious, and so many other things.

For instance, Ilyas’ experience of working in the civil service as a Muslim of Pakistani heritage give him an insight into the current political landscape that few others can boast. Whilst his years in standup have not only honed his comedy instincts and sharpened his wit, they’ve afforded him access a wealth of talent from which he can handpick glorious goreh such as Sophie Willan, Adam Rowe and Phil EIlis.

The show is fizzing with chemistry at every turn. Ilyas’ celebrated double-act with Guz Khan is nothing new thanks to the sublime Man Like Mobeen, but it is matched by his wonderful rapport with Sindhu Vee. She reacts to his tongue-in-cheek barbs and good-natured provocations with a delicious disdain that could only be born of a deep mutual affection. Like so much about the show, it feels fresh and gorgeously different.

And there’s the key. This ‘late-night satirical comedy show’ is absolute winner because you’ll never have seen anything quite the same before. It is bursting with ideas and feels thrillingly overdue. It is the perfect answer to anyone who sees multiculturalism or representation as some sort of problem rather than the heart-swelling eye-opening heady joy that it is. Tez Ilyas has arrived and it’s really fucking exciting.

You can watch the first episode of The Tez O’Clock Show at 11pm on July 25, and follow Tez Ilyas here.