Next week, the charity night Weapons Of Mass Hilarity returns to London at The Phoenix Arts club. Special guests at this weeks show include Patrick Monahan, David Lewis, Luno and Athena Kugblenu. Another act that is performing is Jenan Younis, she is also one of the shows creators, I caught up with her to find out all about the night.
Weapons Of Mass Hilarity Charity Comedy Night
Date: Wednesday 20th November
Location: Phoenix Arts Club, London
Hello tell us all about who you all are and three unknown facts about yourself!
Hello, I’m Jenan; I’m a stand-up comedian based in London. A lot of my material revolves around identity politics and growing up with Middle Eastern heritage in Britain; or in other words “Brethnic” (British + ethnic).
Three unknown facts about me :
I am a DIE-HARD Gunner. Ian Wright is the world’s greatest footballer. No dispute! I spent £500 on a ticket to go watch the last ever game at Highbury; even bought a seat from the stadium at the Highbury auction (sadly recalled because of the asbestos!).
I learnt to play the saxophone solely because of Lisa Simpson. The only thing I can still play is the Pink Panther theme and Yesterday by the Beatles.
I do the world’s GREATEST vocal impersonation of Stacey Dooley. I have a ginger wig now and am toying with the idea of turning it into a cabaret act.
How did you get into stand up?
Performing has always had a part to play in my life; I sang for the English National Opera at school and theatre was the only thing that kept me sane during university. A friend consistently harassed me into trying out stand-up; it took well over three years to convince me to take the plunge; there is something incredibly unique and frightening about being solely responsible for the content and delivery.
How do you come up with your jokes? what inspires you?
The writing process is still a huge enigma for me – I’ll often beaver away desperately racking my brain for a punch line, and then when I least expect it (usually a week later starring out a train window compiling a grocery list) it’ll hit me! (Well – not always!).
I do talk a lot about my background, childhood and bizarre encounters and conversations I have experienced with regards to being “ethnic”; comedians such as Gina Yashere, Omid Djalili and Patrick Kielty were and still are inspirations particularly with their fearlessness in showing who they are and where they come from often communicating a political message in the process.
Tell us a little bit about the show that is happening next week?
I created a comedy charity night entitled “Weapons of Mass Hilarity” 2 years ago with LSE initially to champion the emerging talent from comedians with Middle Eastern heritage as well as fundraising for charities such as AMAR and Syrians Across Borders.
The night has evolved and is now a space where comedians from all under represented backgrounds are showcased with the aim of inclusivity rather than exclusivity. Representation is still an issue within the comedy industry. I am often (far too often) the only female (and the only “ethnic”) on a line up.
Our next instalment is on Wednesday November 20th at the Phoenix Arts Club, it will be headlined by Shazia Mirza, and the other acts include:
And myself! (#bitingOffMoreThanIcanChew)
All proceeds will go to Shlama Foundation (shlama.org) a charity that works predominately with indigenous Assyrians in Iraq to help rebuild their lives in the aftermath of IS.
It is the month of November, the month of fireworks! What is the key to having a spark on stage with the audience? How do you create a bond?
A turning point for me with stand-up was recognising it isn’t so much a performance but a conversation. I might have a set agenda I want to talk about but listening and responding to an audience is vital which is what makes stand-up so unique (and challenging).
How do you warm up before a show?
I always listen to a few cheesy mellow tracks on my way to a gig to filter out whatever else may have happened that day. Currently on my playlist (and please don’t judge me!) are some 1990s Backstreet Boys, Maroon 5 (the early years) and Nancy Ajram (if you don’t know who she is – look her up!). Nothing beats a cup of builders tea (with oat milk of course) pre show. I’m very low maintenance.
What have been some of your favourite shows to play so far this year and why?
I played the Bearcat comedy club with Omid Djalili – one of my childhood comedy heroes. I never thought I’d find myself in a green room with him! Many moons ago at the Edinburgh Festival after his show I tried to sneak in backstage to meet him and ended up escorted out by security convinced there was a restraining order in my name. He was incredibly down to earth and encouraging and if I could grow up to be half the comedian he is (but hopefully minus the excess sweating and I’d quite like to keep my hair!) I’d be very happy.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
Yes please! I often give out free tickets/discounts to shows on instagram: @jenandoescomedy and if you’re after tweets alternating between surreal one liners and political satire I’m on @jenan_younis
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
FUN, FUNNY, (the) FUNNIEST! ?