Imran Yusuf has come a long way fast as he embarks on his debut UK tour, on the back of a successful Edinburgh last year and an appearance on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Road Show.
The tour, which takes him to the Komedia, Brighton on April 21, was certainly always an aim. It’s just that he has got there rather sooner than he imagined.
“I just didn’t think it would happen so fast,” Imran says. “Last year everything changed so rapidly. I just happened to get a five-star review and but I thought it would take at least a couple of years to get this far.
“It’s a testament to how often I am gigging. I am always out there trying to improve my craft. That’s what I am in it for - my craft. The more I improve, the more I will have to offer.
“Everybody gets their 15 minutes of time, but what I want to leave behind is the respect.”
Key to that craft is likeability, Imran says: “Comedy is very subjective. Some people will like what you are saying, and you go with that; something will like what you are, and you go with that. Being very affable on stage is very important to me.
“I always like to talk to the audience, I like to get to know them first and interact with them. If I didn’t do that, then I might just as well be reading from a script.”
He also likes to chat with them afterwards, sit and talk in the bar, continue to tell stories.
“It’s just nice to meet people, and what is great is that I get such a cross-section. I get the lightest of the light, the darkest of the dark, the oldest of the old, the youngest of the young.
That’s what I like - people from completely different backgrounds all together. What I want to see is a really mixed family.”
And in part that’s a reflection of Imran’s own background.
Born in Mombasa, Kenya and raised in the UK with a brief stint at school in the USA, Imran travelled much of the world including Israel/Palestine, Jordan and Saudi Arabia during the Lebanon Crisis in 2006.
His own rich multicultural background inevitably finds its way into his work.
He’s particularly delighted that Asian people are coming out to see him: “For some reason, Asian people won’t come out to mainstream comedy, but I get a section of them coming to see me, which is good. Comedy is for everybody!”