Dream Gig: Leila Navabi

Ahead of their Edinburgh Fringe debut, Leila Navabi talks us through their dream gig... or should that be dream gigs

Article by Leila Navabi | 19 Jul 2023
  • Leila Navabi's Dream Gig Illustration

My best-ever gig. That’s different from my favourite gig, right?

I think I have the sadistic inclinations of someone with something probably a bit wrong with them. Surely wanting to stand on stage and have people listen to you hypothesise for any amount of time is symptomatic of mental illness at the very least, and sociopathy at the most. So I think it’s fair to say that, regardless of if the attention you receive is positive or negative, the neurological chemicals that flood your brain every time someone shows a willingness to listen to your nonsense probably aren’t picky. I imagine the level of histamine in your body increases regardless. So yes, this is a waffly way of saying that I think ‘best ever gig’ and ‘favourite ever gig’ are probably two different things and that, for the sake of increasing my sense of importance, I’m going to discuss both. Because my favourite gig was absolutely not my best.

My favourite ever gig was at a University of London students' union. It was an all-POC lineup. We (myself and the other comics) were discussing what a shame it was that turnout for the gig had been low. And then, all of a sudden, floods of audience entered. It was brilliant until we realised they were all there protesting *something*. It wasn’t clear what, but I think it was something at least a tiny bit racist just from the general vibe. If you’re brown, you’ll know what I mean. They weren’t vocal or aggressive or anything like that – they sat with their arms folded until the end when I enthusiastically asked one of them if they’d enjoyed the show and they responded ‘I bet your mother is really proud of you’. She is, actually.

My best-ever gig was October 2021 at The Queer Emporium in Cardiff. I’d been asked to MC their first-ever stand-up night and gigging to a bunch of LGBTQIA+ weirdos like me was a revelation. I loved them and I think they loved me back. It was just lush.

My dream gig would, of course, be at The Queer Emporium again but like, a massive version on a planet where everyone is gay. Though that might be a problem because I think the reason us queers are so fun is because we’re trying to counter our oppression with Gemma Collins memes and X-Factor clips from 2007. So maybe everyone would be gay but there’d also be like, an oppressive stinky gas birthing from the planet’s surface because it’s not healthy to ever be too comfortable and comedy certainly wouldn’t work in any utopia. We’d get comics from other planets because of the guests I’d like at this gig.

The show would be MC’d by Mr. Blobby because he’s got great projection and wouldn’t do any unwanted toppers on anyone’s jokes. Also I would be there as Mr. Blobby's chaperone because I feel like he'd need help getting on and off stage. I’d have Jen Ives open the gig as ‘New York Jen’, a character she does who is Jen, but from New York (I think she’s from Kent or something in real life…). The crowd would go nuts and then Lolly Adefope would come on and do her Call Centre worker character. The only time I’ve ever had a nosebleed is seeing Lolly and I think it’s because I laughed so much I broke some nasal blood vessels.

And then, when the audience couldn’t face anymore fantastic character comedy for fear of bursting, Joan Rivers would rise from hell (the best afterlife place) and do a full hour about everything that’s happened since her untimely death at the age of 81. I’ve watched her documentary A Piece of Work more times than I can count. She was the only comedian I was sentiently aware of until the age of 15 and she’s the only one I needed because her repertoire was so vast. It’s my second biggest regret that I never saw her live. My biggest regret is not investing in crypto many years ago because the financial burden of the Edinburgh Fringe wouldn’t exist to me and I could buy as many limited edition pairs of crocs as I wanted.

Leila Navabi: Composition, Pleasance Courtyard (Attic), 2-27 Aug (not 11), 9.45pm, £7-13
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