Nazeem Hussain takes time out of his busy schedule to chat about 'Public Frenemy'.
“You know what – being a comedian gave me a lot of training to be in the jungle. Life on the road isn't glamorous. If you see some comedy rooms around Australia, they're not nice venues, So being in the jungle [on 'I'm A Celebrity'] having some of our luxuries taken away from us, is kind of like just being on the road.”
Nazeem was initially apprehensive about doing reality TV and says it took him a while to sign the contract.
“That's quite a scary thing to agree to. Reality TV – you can't really hide. Who you are will be revealed and all those layers and facades that you put up kind of do fall away after a week. I do feel like, as much as people take you out of context in reality television, at the same time, to take someone consistently out of context- means that that person also needs to be presenting the same kind of stories. Like, if you're an idiot one day you kind of have to be doing something the next day that makes that story consistent. At the end of the day you can be yourself and you think if they want to take me out of context they will but they're gonna have to struggle pretty hard if I'm not actually a bad person.”
Nazeem always wanted to be a comedian, but also says it's an important way for him to talk about the things that matter to him.
“I was mucking around at community events, at uni, and as the world got crazier, comedy was the only way I was able to properly vent and not explode.”
After constantly noticing the lack of representation of culturally diverse stories in TV and comedy, Nazeem decided it was time to create a space for that.
“We made a show on channel 31 ('Salam Cafe' with Waleed Aly) about Muslim life because we turn on the TV and we don't really have any muslims on TV depicting us so we sort of just created our own space and stand-up was the same sort of thing. I didn't get to hear people telling jokes about our lives so I just used to tell jokes about being not white or being Muslim or brown or whatever in Australia, and people who could relate to that experience decided to turn up.”
Despite the inherently political content of his work, Nazeem doesn't consider himself an activist. “Comedy and activism, they have similar things in common. I mean... You both walk around with a microphone, just yelling out what you believe at the world. Activism's more of an impactful medium, but comedy is like the soundtrack to all that maybe.”
“If you actually want to make a change in the world you probably need to do something after you come to my show.”
Nazeem's third solo stand-up show 'Public Frenemy' will be a mixed bag. It will include politics, life on reality TV, and stories about touring with his mum, and if you're really lucky, he might even tell you the story about the time he performed in Sri Lanka to the presidents wife – and the joke he told her that nearly landed him in a lot of trouble.