BGT standup sensation Nabil Abdulrashid: ‘There’s so many people to annoy!’

BGT standup sensation Nabil Abdulrashid: ‘There’s so many people to annoy!’

March 3, 2021

His routines about race, identity and a black Winston Churchill clocked 3,000 complaints. As he looks forward to touring again, the standup explains why he won’t be toning things down

Watch Nabil Abdulrashid’s audition for Britain’s Got Talent from last year and you’ll see a man overcome by emotion when judge Alesha Dixon’s buzzer propels him into the contest proper. “That means a lot!” scream Ant and Dec from the wings, as confetti rains down on the 35-year-old, who’s close to tears. “At that moment,” Abdulrashid says now, “I thought of all the times I’d emailed agents who never got back to me, all the times I’d emailed comedy nights that wouldn’t let me get 10 minutes, all the times I’d smashed shows and they wouldn’t call me back. All that anger, frustration and pain – I let it loose on stage because I knew that, no matter what happens now, that stuff will never happen to me again.”

Abdulrashid was no talent-show greenhorn, trying his luck for the cameras, though. A 10-year comedy circuit veteran, the British-Nigerian turned to BGT in despair that “the traditional avenues” – to television in particular – “seemed exhausted”. By the end of the series, he’d become a tabloid mainstay, his routines about British Muslim identity, #BLM and Winston Churchill being black attracting 3,000 complaints, and many, many more fans. He finished fourth in the final. “But my name,” he tells me via Zoom, “trended more than the winner’s. Anybody who remembers BGT last year will remember me.”

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