Nadia is one ridiculously talented lady. I knew her back at uni on the student theatre scene (dahling) and now she’s representing in the world of stand-up comedy! *cheers* *applauds* *whoops*…
Name: Nadia Kamil
Website: I talk a lot on Twitter – I do jokes sometimes but mostly post photos of meals or outfits. I also have a YouTube channel where I post videos of me titting about with instruments or basic animation.
1) What do you do and why?
I am a comedy writer and performer. I am also an actor and a writer of non-joke based things (like poems, plays, the occasional blog and about 25 novels I have started and subsequently forgotten about) and I am also anything that will pay me money to do a job*.
The question of “why?” is tricky. I have always loved theatre and literature. I made my stage debut at the age of 3, playing Toto the dog in Hafod Primary School’s production of The Wizard of Oz. I recall the direction I received well, “follow Dorothy around and bark when she taps you”. Needless to say, I stole the show and my sordid affair with the stage began. Woof.
I am socially quite an awkward and shy person (no way?! yes way!) so acting is a release for me in which I can be excellent and confident. However, I struggled with the lack of decent parts and writing available to me so began writing my own. My social awkwardness exposes itself in the way that I use humour in nearly all situations (including my grandfather’s funeral, where it was heavily frowned upon) so it was quite natural to me to start writing comedy. I then became a big fan of it- watching lots of stand up, sitcoms, sketch shows and am now quite passionate about it as an art form. I love doing live shows, but am also getting to really enjoy writing for other people. There’s something deeply satisfying about hearing your joke go down well, even when you didn’t say it.
I’m also passionate about women in comedy. I feel they don’t have enough of a voice or a platform and I am actively trying to combat that in my own tiny way.
2) Does being a woman affect your work in any way?
Enormously. The comedy industry is still massively lopsided on the gender equality front. It makes it significantly more difficult in almost every aspect for women. Initially there is the problem that comedy is perceived as such an aggressive, masculine industry (much like politics) that it would appear to not appeal to women. Then once you’ve decided that you do want to give it a try you’ll find that there is a staggering amount of prejudice in the way. From the fact that many main-stream clubs will not book more than one female act per night to the endless stream of nonsensical journalistic non-articles about whether women are funny or not. If we were asking “are white people funnier than black people?” the prejudice becomes so stark as to give a decent idea as to how retarded the comedy industry is in its relationship to women.
The difficulty of being the sole woman on a comedy bill is that then, that woman becomes representative of all female comics, and is judged as a woman and not as a comic. Whereas you have 4,5 or 6 men on the bill who are judged in their own rights on the individual acts they perform. This sort of thing extends to television as we rarely see even one, and almost never, more than one woman on comedy panel shows. Not until shows like QI, Have I Got News For You and Mock the Week are equally populated with men & women can we begin to believe in achieving gender equality in comedy.
3) Are you a feminist?
A massive yes. My mother died when I was 6 so I grew up in a super macho environment – me, my dad and my three brothers. This made me hyper aware of being female. I see so much gender inequality still (in 2010!), that it angers me when people dismiss feminism as old and irrelevant. Feminism is about equality and that has still not been achieved. Feminism is even more important in a world that sleazes by with an oleaginous facade of equality. The gender pay gap is around 22%. That stat by itself makes me sick with rage.
I have been reported in the Daily Mail (with a tone of disgust) as a feminist activist for defacing body-confidence-eroding ads on the tube. The portrayal of women in the media (what I consider my area of work) is insane. Body image is an important issue for me, and one that affects women enormously. I believe it’s a massive contemporary feminist issue that underpins women in nearly all aspects of their lives, consciously or otherwise.
4) What are your future plans?
To write more, to perform more. I’m working on a play that has a strong female agenda but I’m concerned that will put people off (which in itself is terrible).
5) Tell us one cool thing we don’t know already:
I’m half Welsh and half Iraqi. My mother was from Swansea and my father from Baghdad. I lived in the Middle East just after the Gulf War but mostly grew up in Wales. I am so ashamed of Britain’s actions against Iraq that I can barely think about it, but I want to tackle it and will work up the courage to do so sometime in the future. Hopefully the Royal Court will pay me to do so (unlikely).