Imran Yusuf - the funniest dinosaur impersonator/mock terrorist around
- Brian Donaldson
- 24 March 2011
Comedian set for date at Glasgow Stand as part of UK tour
Whatever he goes on to achieve in his comedy career, Imran Yusuf already has three mightily impressive entries on his CV. Last August he became the first Free Fringe act to gain a spot on an Edinburgh Comedy Award shortlist, ultimately losing out to Roisin Conaty for the Best Newcomer prize. Prior to that he posted a spoof video on YouTube in which he played a jihadist martyr proclaiming death to the infidels before intercut footage of the Britain’s Got Talent judging panel gave the game away (see below). And he does a mind-swervingly brilliant dinosaur impersonation.
It may be a surprise to those who have seen him in live action, but the tall, gangly Yusuf was something of a short-stop as a kid, a situation which helped to contribute to him being picked on. Not in Kenya, where he was born, or in the UK, where he was mainly brought up, but in New Jersey, where he spent a year at the age of 13. ‘Once you become a teenager you start to become really aware of your background, your identity, who you’re meant to be as an individual. When I was picked on in America for being English, it was never horrible, it was teasing. It was annoying because I got it every day without fail. Everywhere I went, it was, “English muffin this, English muffin that”.’ Yusuf returned to Britain with a hardened resolve to be himself and an exclusive killer routine thanks to Jurassic Park, which had yet to open in the UK.
Dropping out of university to pursue his dream job in the video games industry, he eventually quit when that went sour to follow his other burning ambition. ‘I was doing open spots after a day’s work but the point came in 2007 when I was being worked to death on a game I was working on. At work I was treated like an animal, being worked to the bone and humiliated by my employers. I remember doing the gong show at the Comedy Store and it went so well and the girls were all over me and I thought, “Wow, do I want to be treated like an animal or do I want to be treated like a hero?” You just can’t beat it; it’s the best job in the world.’
An Audience with Imran Yusuf, The Stand, Glasgow, Mon 4 Apr.